A Self-Interview with Ben Pastore, Author of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper

 Greetings! This is Trip Accomplice travel writer and blogger extraordinaire Ben Pastore. Today I’m happy to have with me author Ben Pastore as he talks to us about his new eBook You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper. Great to have you with us today, Ben. Thanks for stopping by.

BP: Well, considering that I was already here, it’s no big deal. I’m happy to have this opportunity to get the word out about my new book.

TA: No doubt. So, to get right into things, what would you say your book is about?

BP: Well, Ben, basically it is a travel guide, though not in the vein of most others out there. This isn’t a directory of places to stay or a town by town breakdown of a given country. It’s more like an overview of some 40 destinations in over thirty countries to go along with my own blend of anecdotes, travel tips and industry insights – all in a witty style intended to entertain as well as inform.

TA: Sounds pretty different. What would you say is the greatest difference between your book and other guides on the market?

BP: Good question. I’d have to say it comes down to the target audience. If you’re planning a trip and need detailed information about a given place such as hotels, museum hours and restaurant reviews, my book is not for you. I readily defer to the experts at Lonely Planet or Insight Guides. But if you’re interested in travel in general, are looking for ideas or inspiration to make that trip of a lifetime, and/or want to have an overview of the world before settling on a specific destination, then You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper would be a perfect fit.

TA: Thanks for clearing that up

BP: Well, I know how easily you get confused.

TA: Ain’t that the truth. So, getting back to your target audience, who would you say would be the ‘ideal’ reader?

BP: Since the writing style and message is designed to appeal to any number of audiences, it’s hard for me to say there’s only one ‘type’ of reader that would enjoy it. Ultimately, I’d refer to the subtitle on the cover “A Witty Guide for the Armchair Traveler”, which implies that it would be a person who doesn’t always have the opportunity to travel, but enjoys doing so vicariously. It would also indicate that they would enjoy their world tour with a dash of humor as well.

TA: The humor aspect is evident even from the title. Any explanations you’d like to share? Is it really about toilet paper?

BP: No, no, it’s not a book full of potty humor. I originally got the title from one of my early blog posts where I mused about how glad I am to explore the world with the benefit of modern comforts such as air conditioning and flush toilets, as opposed to early explorers who often had to bear up under hideous conditions. I thought that title would best describe most people’s preferred comfort level when it comes to travel. They might be up for some adventure, but not at the expense of indoor plumbing. I know that that’s where I draw the line (camping aside). I figured that my readers would do so as well, and the title is sort of a guarantee that everything I go on to describe in the book would still be within the readers’ comfort zone.

TA: But isn’t  travel all about getting out of your comfort zone?

BP: Sure, but there are all sorts of comfort zones. I can immerse myself in a foreign culture, language and landscape without necessarily going to physical extremes. That’s kind of my point: Embrace the differences; revel in the similarities.

TA: Okay, okay, no need to get snippy. How about the other parts of your book besides the destination guide? What can readers get out of it?

BP: First, I’m not being snippy. You’ll know when I’m being snippy. Second, the other parts of the book are in my opinion essential because they put the destination guide into context. The first section prepares the reader’s mind to not only be open to learning about the places that follow, but how to make the most of their own travels – even in the early planning stage. Section three not only espouses some of the priceless wisdom travel imparts to a person, but also how to preserve those incredible memories you went through such trouble to accumulate. I guess you can say the book covers the entire travel experience from the seeds of inspiration to looking back reflectively even many years later.

TA: That definitely makes it unique compared to any travel books I’ve read.

BP: Same here.

TA: That’s what I thought. Is there anything in particular you’d like to say to your readers now that the book is available?

BP: Actually yes. So thoughtful of you to ask. Besides asking for their support as readers, I would love to ask for their help as advocates. If you read the book and enjoy it, please tell your friends and family. If you’re comfortable doing so, a post, repost, tweet, share, like or pin on social media goes a long way in spreading the word for small publishers like myself. Any support in the form of reviews – such as on Goodreads or the online store where you bought it – or even word of mouth would be a big help and allow me to keep bringing you a fresh perspective on travel.

TA: Good points, Ben. One last question for you: How was it for you speaking of yourself in the first, second and third person?

BP: Honestly, a bit awkward, but not thoroughly unpleasant. I’ve always felt that people who refer to themselves in the third person are a bit obnoxious, but now that I’ve tried it I can see the appeal. I realize that I still might come off as obnoxious, but that would be the case whether I was speaking in the first, second or third person, so I’ll just go with it for now.

TA: Well, that about wraps things up for us today. Once again we’d like to thank author Ben Pastore for joining us today and recommend that you download his new travel book You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper from your favorite online retailer. This is Trip Accomplice writer Ben Pastore signing off…

Do you have any questions or comments you’d like to share with Ben? Leave a comment below!

Buy You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper on Amazon, the iBookstore, & lulu.com. Coming soon to Nook and Kobo readers
Buy You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper on Amazon, the iBookstore, & lulu.com. Coming soon to Nook and Kobo readers

Update: The Time is Nigh!

Just wanted to let you all know that the release of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper will be March 31, 2015! Look for it on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Lulu and more.

To my fellow bloggers!!!

Naturally I am trying to get the word out about my book as much as possible. If you would be interested in doing a review or post in exchange for a free copy please let me know at ben@tripaccomplice.com

Stay tuned for more….

Savvy Travelers Know the ‘B’ List Deserves an ‘A’

Citadel, Ollantaytambo, Peru
Citadel, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Perched high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, nestled in a verdant valley, is the living Inca town of Ollantaytambo. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. The reason has nothing to do with the town itself, which is a sterling example of Inca architecture showcased in a spectacular alpine setting. The real culprit is the attention-grabbing diva some fifty miles down the road who just happens to go by the name of Machu Picchu.

Scattered around the globe are scads of wonderful destinations whose praises go relatively unsung due to their position in the shadow of even ‘greater’ destinations. These are places that might not be completely unknown, but certainly don’t get the attention or prestige they deserve. I will now take you on a rundown of some of the best of the second-best on each continent in an attempt to spread the love to these lesser-known gems.

North America

A Peaceful Courtyard in Antigua, Guatemala
A Peaceful Courtyard in Antigua, Guatemala

I could write an entire month’s worth of things to see on this massive continent, but even when narrowing things down to the region of Central America, most visitors’ minds – and itineraries – focus on destinations such as the natural paradise of Costa Rica or Mexico’s Mayan ruins and beaches. What they don’t focus on is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in all of the Americas called Antigua, Guatemala. Not to be confused with the other Antigua out in the Caribbean (see the post Not That Antigua, the Other One), this former capital of Spanish Central America still retains its colonial charm in cobblestone streets, heritage hotels and a backdrop of not just one but three smoky volcanoes. Just 45 minutes out of Guatemala City, it is both easy to get to and a great place to stay – just ask the many ex-pats sipping coffee in the main square.

South America

Returning to Port, Parati, Brazil
Returning to Port, Parati, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is arguably the greatest city on the continent and definitely among the top ten in the world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it gets a lot of attention. But just 4-5 hours away by bus is the adorable, historic town of Parati, which may not be as popular, but is pound for pound Rio’s equal. Set on a gorgeous bay dotted with islets and the mountainous backdrop of the Mata Atlantica, this well-preserved colonial gem boasts a pedestrian only center of whitewashed buildings in multicolor trim featuring art galleries, local artisans, and a spectrum of dining options. At night street performers play for the crowds milling about the discreetly lit streets and outdoor restaurants. You’d be hard pressed to find greater ambience anywhere – including Disney World. For more information see the post Parati, Brazil: The Whole Package)


Blue Iceberg, Near Elephant Island, Antarctica
Blue Iceberg, Near Elephant Island, Antarctica

The entire continent of Antarctica falls into the category of lesser-known destinations, because most people would consider it inaccessible. However, despite being the least accessible continent anywhere, the Antarctic Peninsula – a cold, bony finger reaching northward past the Antarctic Circle – is seeing more and more visitors looking to check off that large white blob at the bottom of the map. While expensive just about anyway you cut it, an Antarctic cruise will bring you past towering mountain chains covered with glaciers, and those signature icebergs in an ever-changing range of shapes and sizes – often topped with adorable little penguins. With no cities, towns or indigenous peoples, the sense of being in the remotest corner of the earth couldn’t be any stronger. (For further details about cruising Antarctica, see the post The Witty Traveler’s Guide to Cruising Antarctica)


Anse Source d'Argent, La Digue
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue

Africa is a bucket list destination for many. They envision racing across the Serengeti in a Land Cruiser or staring at the wonder of Victoria Falls. But few people venture beyond the game parks of eastern and southern Africa (which are absolutely worth seeing, I should add) to the tropical paradise of the Seychelles Islands, which are technically considered part of Africa despite lying some 900 miles or so offshore. This upscale archipelago attracts an affluent clientele – mainly due to the high costs of getting and staying there. But for those who do manage to visit, they will be surrounded by gorgeous beaches, lush rain forest and those sculpted granite boulders made famous in screensavers everywhere. (For more information see the post The Seychelles Islands: Vacationing Inside Your Screensaver)


Moni Rousanou
Moni Rousanou

As the birthplace of some of the world’s most influential cultures, it’s no surprise that hidden gems abound. One of my favorites is located smack dab in the middle of Greece. While throngs of tourists regularly invade Athens and its impressive collections of classical ruins, three hours to the north is the small town of Kalambaka, gateway to the other-worldy Meteora (See the post The Best Part About Joining a Monastery is the View). These enormous pillars of rock jutting up from the fertile plains of Thessaly are home to many historic monasteries, which are often dramatically perched on top. Believers and non-believers alike can agree that this is an optimal setting to search for the divine.


The Blue City, Jodhpur, India
The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

As the largest, most-populous continent in the world, Asia abounds in visit-worthy attractions. Among the best is the exotic city of Jodhpur (See the post A Hyper Inspirational Shade of the Color Blue). Situated at the desert’s edge of Rajasthan, this Indian city is famous for its enormous fort looming over a warren-like maze of buildings that are all painted in appealing shades of the color blue. This is a great place for shoppers, shutterbugs and architecture enthusiasts, and is even slightly less chaotic than other destinations in India. While the Taj Mahal and Pink City of Jaipur are worthy destinations, a stop here is another tasty flavor in the already spicy palate that is India.

Australia & Oceania

The Pancake Rocks, New Zealand
The Pancake Rocks, New Zealand

I’ve stated many times that New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. Tucked away in a relatively-obscure stretch of the South Island’s western shore is tiny Paparoa National Park and its main attraction, the Pancake Rocks. This surreal byproduct of erosion has left the shoreline honeycombed with towers of sculpted rock layered into strata that with some imagination resemble stacks of pancakes. While nowhere near as popular as incredible Milford Sound to the south (See the post The Best Spot on Earth? Can You Repeat the Question?) this coastal beauty is worth a visit, especially at around sunset.

While the above is by no means an exhaustive list of amazing less-popular places to see, I’m not implying in any way that the more-famous places aren’t worth the trip. The key isn’t in choosing between one and the other, but finding a way to visit them both. Much like peanut butter and jelly, the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

So how can you avoid missing out on the lesser-known wonders unfairly relegated to the B-List? The only real way to combat this injustice, is to inform yourself ahead of time. By doing a bit of travel research – or hiring a professional to do it for you – you can be sure not to miss out on the less-popular-but-just-as-awesome places that get lost in other attractions’ shadow. They might not be the most popular kids in school, but once you get to know them, you will certainly be glad that you did, regardless of which list they’re on.

Update! I finally have a release date for my travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper. Look for it on your favorite online bookstores beginning March 31, 2015. Can’t wait to share it with all of you!

No More Excuses! Why it’s Time For You to Travel – An Excerpt from You Can Keep Your Adventure. Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper

pr-planeIn anticipation of the upcoming release of my travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, I have modified the penultimate chapter to give you a taste of the kind of insight (and humor) you can expect.

Just a brief word of caution, I’m going to be blunt: Get out of your chair!!!

“But, wait!” you might say, followed by any number of excuses with varying degrees of legitimacy. I don’t want to hear it. If you’ve been following this blog that means you’re fully informed and therefore no longer unaware of all that you’re missing. Hear me out as I break down your excuses with both how and why it’s time for you to start traveling.

I Don’t Have Enough Money to Travel

Do you honestly think anything so lame as money would stop a real traveler from traveling? Granted, how and in what style you travel is dictated by your finances; but it should never be the determining factor to go or not go. So you don’t have much money; big deal! Most of my adult life I was just above the financial waterline myself. The key is in setting priorities. For example, which will mean more to you in another ten years – a new TV or that cruise you booked for a steal? By keeping your burdens as light as possible and setting aside a little at a time, most people this side of the poverty line can at least do something.

If money is really tight – and believe me; I know what that feels like – why not try something of short duration and close to home? Can’t afford an air ticket? Take the train or do a road trip. Maybe it’s not as exotic as you would like, but it can still encapsulate all that is good about the act of traveling; and the deposit in your memory bank will be greater than the withdrawal from your real one.

I Don’t Have Time to Travel

I’ve got one word for you – lame! Nobody has enough time to do everything they want to do, so it again comes down to priorities. Just as you would drop your loose change into a jar, scrounge up as many vacation days as you can. Budget your time so that you can steal away – even if it’s just for a weekend. No one says you have to spend half a year backpacking through Asia. I myself have never been away longer than three and a half weeks at a clip. It’s not the quantity but the quality the counts, just as it does in every other aspect of life. If traveling is really something you want to do, you will find the time to do it. I know you’re busy; I am too, but that still doesn’t count as a valid excuse. Nice try, though.

I Don’t Know How to Plan a Trip

I believe you. With so many options and variables, even those who work in the industry sometimes feel like their head is about to explode. But no one is saying you have to do it all yourself. Find yourself a knowledgeable travel agent or talk to someone who knows the drill. For example, this blog is full of ideas and advice. If you lack confidence, start with something small; a cruise, a road trip, an all-inclusive. Once you recognize that you’re a reasonably intelligent human being and that this isn’t advanced Quantum Physics, your confidence and sense of adventure can only grow.

I’m Scared

I’m not going to patronize you and say that there’s nothing to be worried about. The world is a scary, unstable place. But you know what? The same is true where you live. To overcome your fears you have to first learn why you have them. I realize this might be unpleasant. Finding the root of your fears is like giving a prostate exam – uncomfortable even if you do manage to put your finger on it. Still, all it takes is to realize that the benefits far outweigh the risk, and much like that exam, it will leave you with greater peace of mind.

Traveling is a Hassle. I’d Rather Just Read About It

OK, it’s time for me to pull out the big guns. Let me tell you about the best meal I’ve ever eaten. It was in the restaurant of a tiny hotel overlooking a valley on the Italian island of Ponza. First came the antipasto – a delicious medley of fresh olives and cheese bathed in a light drizzle of olive oil. Next came the rice balls and potato croquettes. After that the waiter brought out a heaping dish of linguini with shrimp topped by a dusting of fresh-ground parmesan cheese. Finally, after well over an hour of eating, came the main course – baked swordfish that was caught just that morning. I’d describe it further but it’s hard to see through all the tears welling up in my eyes at the memory alone. Suffice to say it was fabulous, especially when washed down by salad, dessert and a potent bottle of the local wine.

Now why would I torture you (and myself) by describing in great detail this delicious feast? To illustrate the downside of living solely through description. Maybe with lots of effort I can convey the crispiness of the rice balls; the soft texture of the pasta; the heady flavor of the wine that was likely bottled right there in the basement – but I can tell you truthfully; it doesn’t compare to actually experiencing it firsthand.

Have I made my point? Travel is the same thing. You can read about the Taj Mahal, but witnessing it in person is a whole different animal. I can tell you about how charming the Brazilian town of Parati can be, but until you’ve walked those uneven cobblestone streets bathed in half-light to the sound of a street musician, it’s all just theoretical. I know traveling can be a hassle – nobody likes being on a plane for long stretches of time – but it still doesn’t replace making the scenes you’ve heard described here your own.

I’m a Quadriplegic with Anxiety Disorders Chained to a Radiator in the Basement

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this exact same excuse (actually, I can) but if this is you, I will readily concede that your excuse is valid. In fact I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. From the sound of things, it doesn’t seem like you’ve got much else going for you.

Though I’m sure there are many more excuses you can come up with, I don’t have time to address them all. I think that in all things, anyone actively looking for an excuse can find one. I don’t feel any particular rancor toward those that do. I just feel kind of sad. Along with relationships, experiences are among the most valuable things a person can ever have. Missing out on that great adventure is akin to never meeting a person that would one day be one of your dearest friends. So don’t let that happen to you. I know your chair is comfy. I know you might already be in your PJ’s. Just start making your travel plans and leave the excuses for someone else – because I’m not buying them.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the preview of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper by clicking here and stay tuned to this blog for more release details.