Meeting Places and Exploring People

Forrest Mallard

TRAVEL IS ABOUT PEOPLE

Very First Life-Goal

When I was younger, around three or four years old, my mother asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. My answer was simply: ‘I want to travel the world and meet people.’

Early-Travel-Inspiration

I don’t remember that conversation, but what I do remember is being extremely fascinated by photos in geography books. Children dressed in colorful indigenous clothing, walking alongside farm animals on the mountain trails in of some random country. I wanted to know them. They were so different from me and that fascinated me.

From the point of view of a child that had never left his suburban neighborhood of South Florida, the images in those photos could have easily been from another planet. They had goats to play with and hillsides to explore. I wanted to join them on their adventures.

Growing up with limited travel experiences.

Aside from regular trips upstate to Disney World or to visit relatives in St. Augustine, my family never had the opportunity or reason to leave Florida. At the age of 17, I finally left my hometown for the U.S. Marine Corps. I still had never seen a mountain or even a hill (Florida is quite flat). I had never seen snow or felt an earthquake. Outside of St. Augustine, there was barely more than 70 years of local history to learn. (Of course there were hundreds if not thousands of years of Native American history in South Florida, but sadly this history was and still is suppressed and not taught.)

A Passion for Travel

A-little-bit-of-local-culture-Belogradchik-Bulgaria
Belogradchik, Bulgaria

Because I spent the first two decades of my life dreaming of mountains, castles, snow, and foreign lands, I now have a life-long passion for exploration and adventure that I will never be able to satiate. I have so much passion to see the world and to experience every type of culture, and I don’t know if it would be the same if I had been given access to all of these experiences in my early youth.

My new goal was to travel and I wanted to travel far. When I signed my contract to join the Marines Corps, I had a guarantee included in that agreement that I would be stationed in the farthest place I could think of, Japan.

Animated Virtual Backgrounds

A life of travel begins.

My journey through life began as I boarded that bus to bootcamp. Since then I have made so many mistakes and indulged myself with at least a decade’s worth of self-destructive antics. The thing that always pulled me out the other side was realizing, once again each time, that there is a whole lot of the world I still need to see, so I needed to get my act together.

In 2015 I was working in the events industry in Dubai. Everything stops on the Arabian Peninsula between April and September, so I figured that this would be a good chance to go on a super-long hike. I had still never been to Europe, so I set out to cross Scotland, Spain, attend a wedding in England and then hike through Wales.

For decades I envisioned this trip. Images in my mind of long, gorgeous walks through the Highlands. Strolling on mountain trails with dappled light, filtered through overhead leaves, dancing on the dirt path before me. Breathing the exotic, European air. Euphoric in the mere fact that I was living out the adventures of my long-anticipated dreams.

In Scotland, I saw some of the most magnificent mountains. Bigger and more majestic than I had even imagined. In Spain I walked over 600 miles, immersed in many centuries of medieval history and architecture. In Wales, I saw lots of sheep.

Dinner-at-Bulldog-hostel-Shkoder-Albania
Shkodër, Albania

However, my desire to travel and meet people had been replaced with a desire to travel and see things. Now that I am much older and I have traveled for many years, I can say I was so much smarter about travel at 4-years old than I was later in life, because at the very heart of travel, is meeting people and sharing a cultural experience.

Trampy-and-Patrik-Pudil-Grand-Hotel-Pupp-Karlovy-Vary-at-Gra
Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Travel is about People.

The mountains, the beaches, the monuments, the tourist attractions, the history. These are the things that initially draw us places. But until you have met the people, you have not experienced the country.

When I think now of each of the countries I visited that summer, and the first thing I remember is the people that I met in each place.

Forrest-Mallard-and-the-Bad-Girls-West-Highland-Way-Scotland
The Bad Girls of Glasgow

When I think of Scotland, I remember the Bad Girls Club. A group of middle-aged Scottish ladies I shared a hostel with one night along the West Highland Way. An unholy marriage of a Tupperware party and an all-girl biker gang. Before I knew it I was drinking shots of Malibu rum with them and laughing until I had to retreat.

Camino-Family-Dinner
My Camino Family

When I think of Spain, I remember: The ragtag group of random people I met on the Camino de Santiago. Every single photo I have of that epic journey reminds me of these dear friends… even if they are not in the photo.

Zac-Henry-Orehawa-and-Tracey-Pryce
New Friends from Wales

When I remember Wales, I remember: the mother and son that took me on a spur-of-the-moment canoe trip on a stunning reservoir lake; the mayor of a historical village that met me at a pub and spoke at length and with passion about how much he loved his town and the people that lived there; and the family that found out it was my birthday and surprised me with a small cake and some hastily purchased Wales souvenir trinkets for gifts.

Welshpool, Wales – Surprise Birthday Party

I will still research the places I go so that I can see as much as possible on my trips. But, no matter how much research I do, I now know that there is no sight or attraction on my journey that will mean as much to me as the people I will meet along the way.

TRAVEL:
Meeting Places and Exploring People

Porto-Muge-Santarem-Camino-Portuguese-Portugal
Santarem, Portugal

It is oddly fulfilling that I finally learned to travel in a manner that I had originally set out to do as a child. “I want to travel the world and meet people.” It really all just comes down to that.

Travel is People
Travel is People

A new friendship is the best souvenir.


Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. If you have any questions about any of the products or services listed on this site, just ask.

The true spirit of travel focuses on the people you meet.
The true spirit of travel focuses on the people you meet.

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Hi! I'm Forrest Mallard

In 2005, I moved to Quito, Ecuador with $35 in my pocket and a small handful of online clients. Fifteen years and five continents later, there were moments of absolute glamour, as well as a number of brutal rough patches. But I always felt that a horrible day of travel is infinitely more preferable than a great day at the office. Oh the stories I could tell, and I will try to do that here in Tramposaurus Treks. You'll have access to the good times, the horrifying times, and a few well-deserved moments of travel glamour.

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