Every Thursday, A Dangerous Business will be shining the spotlight on a world nomad, travel blogger, armchair adventurer, or just someone really cool in the travel world. This week, the traveler is Darren Garnick of Tacky Tourist Photos. Darren is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and writer who specializes in offbeat pop culture. He is the co-founder and curator of Tacky Tourist Photos, a website that celebrates travelers who love to pose for funny pictures at famous landmarks and roadside attractions.
1. How do you define the word “traveler,” and why would you consider yourself one?
I think a traveler is anyone who enjoys exploring new places, regardless how far from home. You can have rewarding travel experiences in your neighboring town!
2. What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?
I love Israel’s Dead Sea. There’s a surreal “outer space” feeling when you float like a cork in its super-buoyant waters, which is due to the extremely high salt content. I could spend a month there. I also love exploring the country backroads of Canada and munching on exotic Canadian candy. But my most favorite experience is watching fellow tourists think up goofy poses and photograph themselves in front of famous places. I would love if your readers raided their family vacation albums to share their gems!
3. How about your proudest travel moment?
I just ran up the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Art Museum — twice. And despite being out of breath, I beat my eight-year-old son to the top. I figure I have another year before he finds his stride and leaves me in the dust.
4. Have you had any travel mishaps or bad experiences? If so, have these influenced how you view the place where they happened? Would you go back?
A high school friend and I got into a fight years ago at the cheesy South of the Border sombrero statue in South Carolina. We laugh about it now, but for a few hours it was the most unpleasant roadtrip ever. Maybe I should go back for a reunion. After all, South of the Border is one of America’s tackiest attractions.
5. Name one thing you can’t travel without.
My camera — and a backup camera!
6. Name one thing you wish you COULD travel without.
Luggage. I know it’s not eco-friendly, but disposable Hawaiian shirts would be phenomenal.
7. What do you think has been the biggest thing you’ve learned while traveling (about yourself, a destination, a culture, travel itself)?
Just because a place attracts tons of tourists doesn’t necessarily mean it is a “tourist trap.” There’s usually an obvious reason why an attraction is so popular, the same reason why you wanted to go there in the first place.
8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d like to live in a posh luxury condo overlooking the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Every morning I could watch the next batch of tourists pretend to “hold up” the falling Tower.
9. Name one place you’d like to see or one experience you’d like to have before you die.
I would love to host an exhibition of Tacky Tourist Photos at the Louvre, the Met, or MOMA. And if those dreams don’t work out, I’d be honored to work with a museum that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
10. If there was one thing you wish somebody would have told you before you started traveling, what would it be?
It is better to enjoy two or three locations at a relaxed pace than five or six things at a rushed pace. You can never see everything. But if you try, you’ll see nothing!
Are you a travel blogger who has something to say on these topics? Do you know of somebody really interesting in the travel universe that you’d like to see interviewed? Speak up! The Thursday Traveler needs some interview subjects.