The Traveler: Ken Grünberg

This Sunday’s Guest Post is from none other than Ken Grünberg, my partner in crime, adventure and, well…. life! Ken shoots, directs and edits video in his professional life and he is responsible for much of the visual documentation of our travels. He also hates packing, but damn, he’s good at it.

1. What is your dearest/funniest/strangest childhood travel memory?
I would imagine my three-week, transatlantic journey to America on a freight liner with my family would qualify for this question. With an invitational visa from a relative in Canada, my family, as the only passengers, scored a ride on a Texas-bound ship leaving port from Estonia. Much of the 3 weeks was a blur for me (mostly because I spent 2 weeks in bed, seasick), but there are a few memories that stand out: taking walks on the massive bow of the ship and looking into the empty red hull several stories below, scoping out the dolphins at the nose of the ship, and being tossed around in a half-filled saltwater cube swimming pool. Even mealtime in the mess hall was an experience, especially when you found yourself sliding across the room in your chair because you forgot to chain yourself to the floor—as if maintaining control of your dishes on the table wasn’t enough. As we unloaded in Texas, we were literally fresh-off-the-boat.

2. What was your most comfortable home away from home?
There’s isn’t any one rental apartment or hostel that I would highlight, but Iceland provided an unexpected sense of belonging. Perhaps it’s my Scandinavian temperament (reserved and matter-of-fact) or the cool weather and proximity of the country in longitude to Estonia that formed this connection, I’m not sure. I never felt out of place there.

3. Who makes the best travel companion?
There’s only ever been one. I think she runs a travel blog.

4. What do you always pack?
Other than the bare necessities, I don’t really concern myself with what I pack. However, I am a bit of gadget geek, so I do make the effort to try out some new toys for my camera on every trip.

5. Is there anything particular that you collect/photograph/save on your trips?
I used to have a photo-fetish for walls early in my travels. Now, there are photos I avoid taking. If I can’t provide a new angle on a subject that has been exposed to death, what’s the point? People excluded of course.

6. What would you change about the way we travel today?
For trans-oceanic flights, eliminate seats on airplanes and replace them with beds (à la Japanese capsule hotels). This way you will actually sleep through your flight (regulated nitrous oxide would be a nice bonus!) and you’re ready to hit the town right as you land. Radical? Perhaps. Ergonomic issues? Probably. But, sign me up.

7. What lesson can you share that arose from a mistake or misconception?
Try to accurately assess your attention span for any one location. Nothing is worse than being tied down for several days in a place where you lose interest after the first. Oh, and charge your batteries every night. Just do it.

8. What’s your trick for blending in, avoiding looking like a tourist?
Embrace the colour palette of the locals if possible. A body language that exhibits comfort and confidence, instead of disorientation and nervousness, goes a along way in not having you stand out. And most importantly, don’t wear stupid hats.

9. If you could teleport to another location right now, where would it be?
I would jump right back onto a beach in Maui and this time, bring my dog with me. I’d give her free reign to dig for sand crabs and drink saltwater (and consequently puke it up), while Una and I take in the sunset and watch surfers. Speaking of teleportation, it would definitely be the ideal alternative to current forms of travel, but I suspect we are some years away from that. Plus, how comfortable are people with having their molecular structure digitally recorded, their ‘original’ body destroyed, and then reconstructed at a new location ? It’s you, but it’s not. Woah.

10. And realistically, where are you off to next?
Thinking of checking out the Big Island in Hawaii … but without the dog :(

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UnaThe Traveler: Ken Grünberg

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