Evolving Perspectives on Travel

Based on a conversation from the Transnatural Perspectives Podcast with Zero to Travel’s host Jason Moore on developing a travel mindset that brings fulfillment to oneself and the world around them.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Moore

Exiting the subway somewhere on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway, I am met by fellow US American and travel podcast host, Jason Moore. We begin the hike to his home in this suburban family neighborhood. Such a casual trek is commonplace in this wilderness laden Norwegian capital where Moore, a prolific traveler and nomadic-entrepreneur, has decided to call home. In this time of pandemic isolation and seasonable darkness, the uphill journey complete with the crunch of autumn leaves and the scent of pine trees, is welcome. Approaching Moore’s town home, we are greeted in English by a jolly neighbor wielding an axe and heavy Swedish accent. He invites us to the nearby forest to help toss some logs onto his growing stash of community firewood.

We haven’t even made it inside Moore’s home yet our micro-adventure from the subway is a fitting introduction to the purpose of today’s meeting — drink copious amounts of coffee, trade obscure North American pop-culture references, and record a podcast about the Evolving Perspectives on Travel.

Moore’s perspective on Travel is nuanced and informed by a combination of his own experiences as an intrepid globe-trotter and the hundreds of people he has interviewed over the past seven years on his widely acclaimed podcast, Zero to Travel.

Leaving our lumberjack friend in the forest, we retreat to Moore’s living room carpet. Our musings begin in reflection on the origins of Travel itself and Moore’s roundabout journey from being, among many things, a traveling wine salesman to a podcasting polymath based in distant Scandinavia.

Josh Bennett: The world travel itself has traveled quite a long way. In the modern English vernacular, the Cambridge English dictionary defines travel as “to make a journey, usually over a long distance”. Digging deeper into its origins, notions of the word travel appear as early as the 12th century in the form of the french word travailler, meaning “to work, labor, toil, suffering, a painful effort, trouble or an arduous journey”. What’s your travel origin story and how did that lead to the podcast?

Jason Moore: I had traveled for many years, lived nomadic and worked travel jobs. I’d manage events and bands for a while and between gigs I’d travel overseas. My first big trip was a solo backpacking trip. I didn’t know anybody that ever did anything like that. I was from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Along the way I had countless conversations with other travelers, as I’m sure you have as well, in hostels, campsites or wherever. This was pre-internet type of stuff, so we didn’t really have a lot of information about people that were out there just traveling for years. I started meeting from Australia and elsewhere where traveling was a part of the culture. They’d say things like, “Oh yeah, I’m traveling, for a year.” And I thought, “What?” Then I learned how you can volunteer on farms or find other odd jobs along the way. I realized that Travel can be a way of life and you don’t have to go home after two weeks. So, I just remember just being so inspired for many years by those conversations. I got more experience doing it and realized that people need to know about these conversations. That was the Genesis of the podcast.

Through your podcast interviews Have you seen any emerging trends or changes in the way that people are traveling?

One thing that I’ve been drawn to in my later years of traveling, doing the show, talking with more people and getting inspired by people like you who just bike down most of Norway, is this idea of human powered travel. You know, I’ve always been interested in hiking the Appalachian trail (AT). Some people who aren’t aware of what that means might just see a hike in the AT as a really long hike through many states or for people that are really into nature and hiking. However, there’s a whole culture around the trail, subcultures in each state, different things to see, and you’re doing it all by foot. I haven’t gotten the pleasure of doing that yet, but I’ve hiked like little parts just for fun for the day. It seems like experiences like [the AT] are increasing in popularity.

Let’s consider that the meaning of travel is subjective. As humanity finds itself faced with much adversity here at the beginning of the Anthropocene, have you noticed changes in perception of travel due to existential issues like climate change and more recently the pandemic?

I think people are changing their minds on what a travel experience means. Some people go right to the, “Oh, well I get on a plane and then I fly somewhere and then I go to a hotel and that is a travel experience”, but it’s not the only one that you can have. I become more conscious of the impact of my travels as the years have gone on. Not that I wasn’t before, but I think that’s a good general trend coming out of the pandemic. I remember when the pandemic first hit and a couple months in we started to see articles about “the dolphins are back in the canals in Venice” and news explaining how pollution has cleared in some cities and the people there can see the mountains again for the first time something like a hundred years.These are good things coming out of these times. We need to dial this back. I would never say, “Oh, everybody should just stop traveling”. Cause it’s hard and I feel like there’s a lot of good that comes out of travel in terms of gaining perspectives and the ability of travel to create global citizens.

What about your own perceptions on travel?

I’ve always been incorporating nature into my travels. I remember we wanted to go to Patagonia for three or four months because we wanted to be immersed in that organic mix of nature and culture. That symbiotic relationship with the land can define how the people live. Going back to the idea of the AT, again there’s the idea of slowly and methodically walking through nature and appreciating that aspect while slowly traveling through and experiencing the culture of the trail, the people and the towns. And it’s just a different way of traveling that I think ultimately can be a lot more fulfilling than just ticking destinations off your bucket list.

There’s a lot of reasons why someone might not be able to physically travel somewhere aside from global restrictions. Any advice on how to get that “travel feeling” locally now or anytime?

Broaden your mind and open up to different ideas of what travel means. It can be meaningful to be a tourist in your own town and just create a framework for that to go have an experience. I had a guest on my show a couple of times, Allister Humphreys, who’s a known adventurer, has been on some big adventures in the North pole and some other places like that, but he also has been really great at pioneering this concept of micro adventures, or adventures out your back door. For example, here we have the forest right in front of where we live. So we go there and camp out for a night. Even if I’m a hundred meters from my place that could be a micro adventure.

Micro adventures around the corner or in your backyard seem like a great way to meet the needs of the limitations we encounter in life in terms of environment, health, finance, time and bureaucratic restrictions. But, do you think this can satisfy the wanderlust many experience?

This goes back to the mindset, right? Take a day to be a tourist in our town, it can feel that you’re on more of a “travel adventure”. Whether you’re just going to a new cafe or a new neighborhood, a lot of that experience comes down to how you’re thinking about approaching the day. One of the things I’ve learned from doing the podcast is that when it comes to travel it’s not necessarily the amount of miles you go, but rather it’s the mindset. It’s about the framework you make for yourself and creating a box where that experience can occur.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to the full episode here on the Transnatural Perspectives Podcast.

Joshua Bennett is an International Environmental Educator, Outdoor Guide, Communication Artist originally from Florida and based in Europe for over 10 years.