Commentary: The same travelers who insist on dropping the “s” from Laos in the interest of linguistic accuracy would never call Egypt “Misr” or Finland “Suomi.” What factors influence the names we give to the places we visit?
Interview: Rolf talks with the legendary travel author about technology, traveling light, reportorial accuracy, notions of home, and the “Tao of Travel.”
Essay/Reportage: When allegations surfaced that parts of Greg Mortenson’s memoir “Three Cups of Tea” had been fabricated, reports noted that the book is “required reading” for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Various other branches of the military promote titles like “Freakonomics” and “Starship Troopers.” Why is this the case, and what do these non-military books offer to combat-bound soldiers?
Media criticism: Where does the Travel Channel take us? To find out, Rolf locks himself into a Vegas hotel room and embarks on a one-week experiment in gonzo-criticism.
Literary Criticism: Between 1996 and 2002, a spate of British-authored pulp fiction portrayed self-absorbed 20-somethings trying (and failing) to use travel in Asia as an escape from the superficial, directionless, consumerist lives they lead back home. What did these novels predict about the way travel was changing?
Rolf leaps off of cliffs, soars through the trees, and jets up rivers near Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island.
On a 24-hour train transit from Bangkok to Penang, Rolf learns the social limitations of Thai whiskey, and meets a fellow traveler who embodies the antithesis of “traveling light.”
Back in Thailand after a seven-year absence, Rolf revisits the Khao San Road backpacker scene, eats insects in Chinatown, and tests his no-baggage wardrobe in an upscale nightclub.
Stuck with a cold in an isolated corner of South Africa’s Welgevonden Game Preserve, Rolf’s cameraman Justin comes face to face with an unusual bush cure.
Near Kruger National Park, Rolf discovers that the “Big Five” safari animals aren’t nearly so exciting as the creatures one finds by happenstance.
Looking to trim his beard amidst a luggage-free journey, Rolf stumbles into the most detail-intensive barbershop-shave of his life.