If you think you’re a seasoned traveler, consider the itineraries of adventure-seeker Brad Grant of Del Mar and globetrotter and author Patricia Schultz. Grant, aka Dr. Adventure, has been to spots on the globe that most of us don’t know exist.
And Schultz, a Manhattan resident, just completed the second edition of “1,000 Places To See Before You Die” (Workman Publishing). Writing both editions has taken her to “approximately 80 percent of the places listed in the book,” she said in a recent phone interview just after returning from Taiwan. “I’ve never kept track of the miles I’ve traveled, nor have I ever counted how many countries I’ve been to. As for frequent flier miles, I spend them as soon as I accumulate them.”
The first edition of “1,000 Places … ” required eight years of travel, research and networking to document the destinations listed in the book.
“A lot of people think that’s enough time,” Schultz said, “but the reality is that you can only scratch the surface in that time.”
Already a veteran traveler when hired in 1995 to write the first edition of “1,000 Places … ,” (she also had lived in Italy, France and Spain and written for Frommers and Berlitz), Schultz decided not to re-visit those places where “I already felt comfortable, like the Louvre and the Grand Canyon, though they still belonged in the book. So as soon as the ink was dry on the contract, I went off on an eight-year odyssey to areas of the world I didn’t know.”
As a kid growing up in a small town on the Hudson River, Schultz’ adventures were limited to summer trips to the Jersey Shore. “It seemed like high adventure at the time,” she recalled. “My parents held sacred the family vacation. You would think we were going to the moon for as excited as we got.”
Then, at age 15, Schultz visited a classmate who lived in the Dominican Republic.
“My parents worked double, triple shifts to buy me that plane ticket. It was two weeks that turned my life around.”
When asked about her favorite destinations, she said, “I often feel that my most recent trip is my favorite. I just returned from Japan and I’m a newborn fan. Tokyo has about 14 million people but it’s an incredible city that’s very organized and easy to navigate. People are remarkably kind, patient and respectful.”
When it comes to adventure travel, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that Brad Grant hasn’t done. The Del Mar resident was a family practice/sports medicine physician, marathoner and triathlete who for years also competed on extreme-sport teams.
“Then my wear-and-tear caught up with me,” said the 58-year-old, aka Dr. Adventure. “I had a hip replacement and lost vision in one eye, so I was thrust out of the competitive realms. So I thought it through, and after many years of helping other people get involved, I sold everything and took a leap and created a new business.”
Grant’s “niche” enterprise consists of offering adventure travel to all his past associates and friends with whom he once competed. He designs the expedition, puts together transportation, accommodations and local guides, then puts the word out.
“I have a large database from my years of involvement,” said Grant, who also served as a doctor and drug tester for the U.S. Olympic team. “I always go unusual places and never repeat trips. And I also act as videographer and doctor — a value-added approach.”
Grant offers up to a dozen trips a year and participants number two to 14; most are Europeans and South Americans in their 40s and 50s.
“The trips are pretty challenging so I want to have a good handle on who I’m taking,” he said, but as his customers age, “we’re starting to run some softer trips that the average person can do.”
Grant gave no definition of “average,” but consider past destinations and activities: climbing the highest mountain in Antarctica; skiing the North Pole; horseback riding in Kamchatka, a peninsula in extreme-eastern Russia where it rains 110 inches a year, and 29 of the 160 area volcanoes are still active; and diving for whale sharks in Mozambique. “We go to areas where there is plenty of food so they aren’t looking to us for food.”Adventures run from three weeks to three months and cost between $2,000 and $80,000, “depending on where we go and how long we stay,” Grant explained.
Checkout Grant’s adventures on YouTube. Next column: Travel tips from Schultz and Grant.
E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at email@example.com.