TED is a non-profit organisation on a mission to “spread ideas” in order to encourage a deeper understanding of the world. It stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design which are three broad subject disciplines that impact each of our lives daily. TED reaches it’s goals by organising conferences around the world where motivating participants are invited to deliver a short, thought provoking, powerful talk of 18 minutes or less “It’s a winning formula of brilliant, curious minds and groundbreaking content in an immersive and focused environment”.
The seven TED travel talks I have selected below are all delivered by celebrated experts on topics they feel passionate about. They have the ability to communicate their knowledge in an attention-grabbing way. I’ve always thought that you can learn so much by traveling to different places and immersing yourself in different cultures. I hope that these seven travel talks inspire those who do not realise the value of travel or whose idea of travel is going to an all-inclusive resort in Bali for a week and not leaving the resort, or those that want to travel more but just need that extra push. The world is literally a classroom. Get out there and be curious!
1. The road less travelled. By Tony Wheeler
Tony Wheeler is a travel industry icon who along with his wife Maureen set out on an overland travel route from London to Australia in the early 1970s. Then started the one and only “bible” for all backpackers. For me personally the overland trip from Europe to Australia has always been on my wanderlist since I first read about their adventures. In this TED talk Tony talks about “bad lands and dark lands”.
“A few years ago Mr George W Bush came along and gave me a reason for some travels. When he said there was an axis of evil I thought, well I want to go there….” So he revisited countries that are traditionally thought of bad such as Iran and Iraq, Albania, Myanmar, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. But instead of facing evil “everywhere I went I met really nice people”.
So many people are missing out on some amazing experiences due to an extreme fear of “bad” people and places. Travel teaches you not to judge a country by it’s history, the media and/or it’s government but to make up your own mind.
2. Deep Travel – Connecting on the road and in life. By Judith Fein
Judith Fein is a successful travel journalist who has contributed to more than 100 publications and has written several books. Her TED travel talk shows you how to have meaningful and authentic interactions with the people you meet on your travels. She explains how “people want to talk, they want to tell you about who they are and open up with their stories”.
Sometimes when we travel we can be guilty of sticking within our comfort zones and hanging out with other foreigners. This is a not a bad thing, in fact I think it’s also one of the greatest benefits of travelling as you make some amazing friends. Yet this TED talk has inspired me to interact with locals more. I will take her advice and “see that person” and ask questions and let them ask me questions.
3. Where is home? By Pico Lyer
Writer Pico Lyer presents on the concept of a home, the joy of travelling and the tranquillity of standing still. His notion that where you come from is much less important than where you are going is so true and I hope to see this idea spread.
I know this is probably not the most PC term but I love that nowadays everyone is a mongrel! For me the most interesting person in the room is going to be the guy who has an Indian father, a German mother, grew up in Malaysia and now lives in Paris. This jigsaw puzzle of cultures that can make up a person’s “home” is considered by Pico during his TED talk on travel.
4. How to travel the world with almost no money. By Tomislav Perko
Tomislav Perko is a Croatian travel writer who lost his job in Finance during the Global Financial Crisis and used this as a catalyst to travel the world. If you ask most people they will say they want to go travelling but “can’t afford it”. Tomislav’s TED talk shows how long term travel can be experienced with very few funds.
I’ve stayed in all kinds of accommodation world-wide but the one thing I haven’t done is couchsurfed! This TED talk has inspired me to couchsurf and I’m looking forward to it!
5. Why bother leaving the house? By Ben Saunders
Ben Saunders is a polar explorer who led the only successful human powered 105 day expedition to the South Pole and back. He is a “doer of things rather than a contemplator or spectator of things”. His talk inspires us to set goals and reminds us that we need to live life by getting out into the world and living life. As I always say “be curious”.
One of Ben’s quotes that has stuck with me is in his ending where he says that what he has learnt after 12 years of dragging a heavy sled around “It is that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and challenge. From stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown”. Travel often puts us outside of our comfort zones and it is here where we grow.
6. Learn to travel. Travel to learn. By Robin Esrock
Robin Esrock explains how to travel well as well as how to get the most from travel. As a successful travel writer, travel producer and global adventurer he has travelled through 107 countries interviewing people and documenting his crazy adventures. The country that he sites as the friendliest country in the world might surprise you! Albania. He is so right when he says that you need to take with you a “smile”. A simple smile can help you connect with the people around you, after all a smile means the same thing in all languages.
7. One Man. Every Country. No flights. By Graham Hughes
This is one of those great, gutsy stories where someone has a big goal and sets out to achieve it, even when there are naysayers saying it can’t be done. Graham is an energetic Englishman who visited 201 countries between 2009 and 2012 by taking nearly every mode of transport except a plane. This talk has some great inspirational footage and you can clearly see why his story ended up as a Lonely Planet TV show. He takes us through a variety of countries and talks about what it’s like to see “7 countries in one day!” Yet another person that has proved that with a bit of creative thinking and friendliness travel does not need to be expensive!