Tourism

“Every place has changed”: Patricia Schultz talks 1000 Places To See Before You Die

Lauren Croft

What do Crete, Victoria Falls, The Taj Mahal and Kakadu National Park have in common? They’re all featured as places you should see before you die.

There are oodles of places featured in the best selling book, 1000 Places To See Before You Die, and all of them are worth a visit.

But even the book’s author (and Trafalgar‘s newest brand ambassador), Patricia Schultz, hasn’t been to every place – yet.

“It was kind of overwhelming. At one point I just spread [the destinations] out on the floor and tried to make it balanced. And it’s not balanced, because I haven’t seen the world. So in the end, I just wrote about what I knew about, and threw in a few places I hadn’t made it to but that I knew belonged in the book,” she told Travel Weekly on a recent trip to Sydney.

Overall, Schultz said that around 20 per cent of the places in her book came from researching, and speaking to people who had been.

“The other 80 per cent I would just travel and write and travel and write and make it happen in between other gigs and assignments. And it took eight years,” she said.

Schultz initially had a year to finish the book – originally titled 100 Drop Dead Places before the publisher added an extra zero “because they thought that it looked better.”

Eight years later, in 2003, the book was published. It was on the New York Times bestseller list within minutes.

Since then, Schultz has made a point of visiting the places in the book she hadn’t been before, to reaffirm their place.

“Oftentimes I’ll go back and re-write it and add a few more adjectives because it often surpassed what I had expected.

“Or sometimes I’d bring it down a notch, it still belonged in the book but it wasn’t so stellar, but it still deserved to be in the book,” she said.

In fact, Schultz did a complete re-write five years ago, subbing in 200 new places.

“I kept all of the originals and then I merged sometimes two or three places into one, opening the book up to 35 new countries. So it’s always being updated and revised and reworked and re-thought and trying to keep it relevant and popular because it continues to be really popular,” she said.

“Every place has changed. Because it wouldn’t be in the book unless it was known to some degree.

“And places that were popular back then have become more popular.”

According to Schultz, places that have changed the most are places where five years ago, tourists wouldn’t have visited – like Eastern Europe and Russia.

“Prague, Poland, Moscow and St Petersberg – these places all had 6 tourists a year, and now they get millions. So they’ve done a 180, they’ve changed hugely.

“And also a lot of Africa, and the safari experience. Trafalgar now offers trips to all seven continents, and this year they’re offering a safari to Africa. That, to me, means it’s on peoples radar more than it was three or five years ago,” she said.

But it’s not just the places that have changed – it’s the style of travel, too.

While Schultz may have gotten a few weird looks backpacking Ireland by herself over two decades ago, solo female travel is on the rise, particularly in a group tour setting.

“[Tours] are a great way for women who are young or first-timers who would like to do destinations like India… and that’s when I encourage people to hook up with a company like Trafalgar because you’re having that same experience where you’re on your own yet you’re not in a risky situation,” she said.

But Schultz’s final piece of advice to those who want to travel is to just… go.

“Rearrange your priorities if you really want to see the world,” she said, after telling TW she didn’t have a couch and would rent her apartment out while she was away.

“If you want anything enough, you just make it happen. You get creative and resourceful and you kind of find your way.”

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