Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die is the world’s best-selling travel book, providing advice on how to explore every corner of the globe.
Now, Schultz has given her iconic guide a complete makeover. With 500 new color photographs, 200 new entries and 28 new countries, the second edition is more informative, budget-conscious and user-friendly. Multiple destinations from the first edition have been combined, transforming each section into a mini-itinerary.
A veteran travel journalist, Schultz was a writer for Frommer’s, Access and Berlitz before she got the idea for a unique life-list travel guide. She spent eight years writing the first edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, published in 2003, and later produced a Travel Channel reality show based on the book.
Schultz was on the road (in Scotland) when we contacted her to find out more about the new edition.
When you first got the idea for 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, did you ever imagine that it would become the best-selling travel book in the world?
In a word, no! It was an idea that resonated with people of all stripes and ages. It amazed me that the book was so embraced around the world. There are translations from Lithuanian to Thai.
You must receive a lot of feedback from readers. Has any reaction moved or surprised you?
A set of 11-year-old twins came to a book signing and brought their tattered old copy of 1,000 Places with them. They had highlighted in yellow all the places they had been with their parents (Disneyworld, London, Alaska, Williamsburg), and in pink all the places they would go to as soon as they were old enough (Peru, Venice, Botswana, Hong Kong). To have a life list at that age is very impressive!
How has the success of this book influenced the way you travel?
I still hit the ground running, to see as much as possible in the limited time I have. I do more research now beforehand and try to line up a local guide if I am traveling to a large city, to get the lay of the land. After that I set off on my own, and set aside an afternoon for serendipity—for wandering and getting lost.
Why was it a priority to make this edition more budget-friendly?
The great, one-of-a-kind historic hotels in the first book were those I suggested for special occasions—honeymoons, landmark birthdays, anniversaries. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re destinations in their own right. The revision is also filled with less expensive hotel options for all other occasions when budgets are more down-to-earth. Travelers are more cautious about budgets these days—and not just in the U.S.
Sometimes when traveling, nothing goes right. Have you ever been on a trip where everything went wrong? How did you deal with it?
It’s unlikely that everything about a trip can go wrong, but rather a particular incident (a delayed flight, missed connection, a hotel from hell). Still, that one thing has the potential of tainting the entire trip. It’s how you respond that counts. If you isolate the problem, resolve it and move on, it won’t ruin the whole trip. We showed up for a 5 a.m. flight in Morocco once that didn’t exist. We found a wonderful taxi driver named Mohammed who drove us to Fez. Instead of a one-hour flight it took us a full day to get there because he kept stopping along the way to show us things—and bring us to his mother’s for lunch. That day was the highlight of my trip to Morocco.
Do you have a favorite addition or new travel experience in this latest version of the book?
A favorite that I included in the original edition but visited only recently was Papua New Guinea—think Stone Age meets the 21st century. And one of the many adventures new to the revision is gorgeous Lake Bled in Slovenia. Also in the former Yugoslavia, I visited and loved Croatia and Montenegro.
The new edition includes former war zones, former Soviet countries and countries just getting on their tourism feet. What advice do you give travelers who are nervous about venturing into new areas?
There’s really little to be nervous about. Tourists are warmly welcomed—they help support the local economies, but they are also appreciated as ambassadors of countries with whom the local people have been deprived of contact. Beirut, Hanoi, Bogotá, Zagreb—it is an exciting time to explore these cities before they are overrun with American fast food outlets and while Americans are still welcomed as something of an oddity.
What one trip in your experience has most affected how you view a life of traveling the world?
Each trip affects my view of a life of travel—a trip to the Caribbean may help me realize how little I know of each of the islands’ character and history, while a trip to Austria’s Wachau Valley widens my interest about the wine regions of the world. The more I travel the more I realize I will never see it all, but I’ll go broke trying!