Interview with travel writer Ryan O’Reilly

An heir to the O’Reilly Auto Parts fortune, Ryan isn’t exactly your typical heir, hanging out on yachts and perfecting his serve with a tennis pro. Instead, he is an author and freelance writer, traveling the world and writing books – both fictional and non. Ryan’s wild, often death-defying, adventures have nearly gotten him killed; they’ve also earned him travel writer street cred (see his recent Road Trip Tips for here).

Let’s say you’re giving advice to a normal couple that wants a little excitement / adventure but nothing crazy. Where would you send them?

This question is a little over my head. You see, I’m getting married in May and have only now opened up my world of adventure to my partner. Only very recently have I arrived at the point where I’m comfortable and satisfied with the process of traveling and adventuring with her. So I’ll answer this more as a hope, rather than by a breadth of experience. I would say what you do alone on an adventure, you should be able to do with your spouse along. Otherwise, are you sure you’re married to the right person?

Now this notion requires a revolving door. You should do what your spouse wants to do sometimes, and other times they should do what you want. Adventure has little to do with destination. For us adventuring is the act of transit from one place to another. The destination is but a way station. Thus there are opportunities abound to do different things.

Unfortunately, for a lot of us, time is a factor. So we’re relegated to slightly more tame adventures somewhat close to home. That doesn’t really change things. At the end of the day, for my fiancé and I, it sometimes boils down throwing darts at a map, then stopping wherever we want along the way. You don’t want a pre-packaged, book online outing. That’s not really an adventure in my book.

If you don’t want crazy, then your best bet is to stay home. It’s all crazy.

What if that couple had a couple of teenagers?

See above, but let your teens throw the darts. I don’t have teens, and I struggle to remember my teens. (There’s a very foggy four years of college between then and now) But I suppose what breeds contempt in traveling teens, as it does in adults, is not having any decision making power. So expand the need to give everyone a chance to try something they want to include your teens, that way everyone in the car is happy.

If they still won’t play ball, leave them at home. That way they can participate in the other rite of passage; the classic parents-are-away party.

Now, same question, but this time the couple wants to get crazy (and there are no kids to get in the way).

This is important. If you don’t refresh your relationship through adventure, it’ll become stagnant. If you have a good travel dynamic with your significant other – my fiancé and I make an incredible team when we’re travelling – then you can do wonders for your relationship. Sort of the “Extreme Home Makeover” for couples.

I would recommend going somewhere you’ve never been to before. Don’t make an itinerary. Don’t bring friends. Find the nearest wine shop for supplies. Then head out with map in hand. You can fly somewhere and rent a car, but if time or money are a factor just head out from home. Take your newly purchased supplies, your spouse, and a duffel bag and see what you can find. Sometimes my fiancé and I like to bar fish. That’s where we walk into a bar separately in a strange town and I then try to pick her up. Sometimes someone else beats me to the punch and I have to vie for her attention. In the end we usually make friends, stay out late and go home happy. Three rules for any good couple’s adventure.

How do you relax while on vacation?

I once stole a piece of construction equipment and removed a row of parking meters. I don’t know that my version of relaxation is the same as everyone elses’, and I think the real answer to this question would probably read like the Anarchist’s Cookbook. So no comment.

Do you typically travel alone, with friends, in a group, or what? Why do you travel that way?

Up until recently, I preferred to travel alone. I’m a long processor and silence is the best way to do it. I take a solo adventure every 12 months so I can process the year and get perspective. We’re so used to being entertained 24/7 either by technology or the incessant chattering of friends and comrades. Being alone for a stretch of time, though scary to some, puts all of that on hold and allows you and your mind to reboot. It’s better and cheaper than any therapy I know of.

And don’t listen to those puritans who tell you “never drink alone.” Some of the best cups I’ve drained have been solo.

Serial road-tripper, Ryan O’Reilly, is the author of the travel novel Snapshot and his latest book, To Nourish and Consume which examines the awkward journey of returning home after a long period of being away. A free-lance contributor to various newspapers and periodicals throughout the country, O’Reilly divides his time between his business in Austin, Texas and a small farm in Clever, Missouri.

Since Ryan is a big raod tripper, a couple related entries: road trips with car sick dogs & the best American road trips & road trip in Jamaica travel plan

And I just want to note that while Ryan says not to plan too much in this interview, I was asking about adventure. In the Men’s Health article he says do plan.

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