McCool Travel Tips: 5 Minutes With Bruce Northam

McCool Travel is excited to present tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes interview series featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons.
For the lucky thirteenth profile, I am thrilled to present Bruce Northam–a travel book author (including Globetrotter Dogma), travel writer, and host of American Detour. Bruce is on track to report on the good life from every county, state, and province on earth. He grew up in Garden City, New York and has been based in Manhattan since 1985.  I caught up with Bruce as he recently returned from his second visit to Antarctica.

McCool Travel Tips: 5 Minutes With Bruce Northam

Bruce Northam, photo from
Bruce Northam, photo from

Always in my luggage…
earplugs, hydrocortisone ointment, Frisbee
3 favorite home-away-from-home places…
strolling rural England, agrarian-living Southeast Asia (especially Laos and Cambodia), anywhere with entertaining wacko expatriates who’ve lost their way home.
A favorite travel memory is…
Playing naked Frisbee with gourds-on-schlongs Dani aboriginals in Irian Jaya, Indonesia (a.k.a. West Papua)
3 favorite travel brands…
ExOfficio, ScottEvest, Moon Handbooks
3 money-saving travel tactics I use are…

  • crashing swank and not-so-swank events

  • eating when hungry

  • tramping scary neighborhoods.

3 ways that I have fun while traveling are…

  • asking inspiring questions of everyone from cops to criminals

  • avoiding any establishment playing music with people talking (as opposed to singing)

  • finding a village’s reluctant sage.

8 word (or less) travel mantra…
The first thing you pack is yourself.
My favorite non-travel website…
Google’s world news page
Most memorable souvenir…
A northern Thailand fish trap (acquired 1987) combines lobster-trap ingenuity and jungle art. It consists of one section of bamboo aggrandized into a conical shell that houses an internal DNA like bamboo stick helix. I knew the trap, tied to the outside of my backpack while transiting Bangkok, was a winner when scores of elderly men accosted me, admiring the artwork that recalled their youth, not to mention the perplexed stares it earned on the subway ride home from JFK Airport.
Favorite cheap eat…
potatoes (preferably mashed)
Recent discovery …
ANTARCTICA – imagine an endless Rocky Mountain-like range and seaside covered in thick, groaning glaciers while whales breach and penguins waddle. Pitch in a few 25-story building-sized aquamarine icebergs. The White Continent really is mind-altering. Just back from my second visit.
I am fortunate to have met …
Robert Plant, Joe Satriani, Paul Rodgers, Jorma Kaukonen
I would like to meet …
Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, simultaneously.
Bruce Northam, the writer and host of American Detour, has reported (mostly good news) from 125 countries on seven continents. His keynote speech, Street Anthropology, is a hit on campus and at corporate events and Governor’s Tourism Conferences. A National Geographic Society ‘Destinations Rated’ Panelist, his book, Globetrotter Dogma, is an award-winning ode to freestyle wandering. Visit
Northam is regular contributor to Long Island Pulse (ABC certified print circulation 120,000; media kit: and He’s also written for The Huffington Post, The Improper,, Newsday, Canvas, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times, New York Post, Details, Natural Traveler, ALO, Forbes Traveler, National Public Radio, Blue (USA version, former writer-at-large),,, Utne Reader,, Programming (NACA),, and the Meeting Professional International’s One + magazine.
Frequently anthologized, his third book, Globetrotter Dogma: 100 Canons for Escaping the Rat Race & Exploring the World, was cited by National Geographic as one of “Ten better choices: insightful travelogues that will inspire rather than dictate.” (National Geographic’s list included The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo) His other books are The Frugal Globetrotter and In Search of Adventure: A Wild Travel Anthology.
A fourth book about the wisdom of strangers is coming soon, a Street Anthropologist’s Guide to Global Knowledge…a 125-country wander seeking unsung hero wisdom.

Thank you, Bruce, for sharing your thoughts with McCool Travel and may you have countless more memorable travel adventures!
Join Bruce on Twitter (@BruceNortham), Facebook, and American Detour.
Previous 5 Minutes With post: Dave and Deb, ThePlanetD.

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