Ready, Set, Explore: How Travel Teaches Us

By Dr. Edward Dramberger

The Destination Diaries

The Destination Diaries.

My newly published book, The Destination Diaries “How to Travel for Life,” is about connecting with people via travel and utilizing your five senses on the road. As association industry professionals, we have opportunities to interact and influence many others on a daily basis when we travel, hold conferences in different locations, and manage nonprofit organizations that impact the lives of people in many different communities.

The book chronicles my mind quest to quench an insatiable thirst for travel and the endless excavation for life’s meaning therein. Decades of professional and leisure travel across 180 of the 195 countries yielded this book that mixes one-part memoir, one-part self-help, and one-part guide for anyone looking to turn travel into something more. I’d like to share some of the aspects of my voyages as depicted in the book with NYSAE members.

Why Travel Connects Us
By foot, plane, train, ship and automobile; we travel for various reasons. Perhaps none of them are as common as our innate desire as human beings to connect with one another. We travel to connect with others for friendship, for business, love, and to explore the unknown. My first travel memories take place in the back of a station wagon going to see my grandparents. At six years old, I was the first one packed and was delighted to see the green neon sign of a Holiday Inn along the way for our hotel stay. I would complain to the front desk about our rooms, restaurant, etc. I was hooked; the hospitality and tourism industry was in my blood for life.

As an adult, I traveled for work within the Hotel industry and made sure I slipped in leisure sightseeing during my trips to meetings, conferences, and sales calls with association and corporate clients.

Whether I traveled to Sao Paulo, Paris, or San Francisco, I made sure to interact with people utilizing my five senses. Some of the stories in the book include a hut in the Amazon jungle, Borneo to the metropolitan cities of Buenos Aries, Mumbai, and Bangkok. In each of the destinations, locals whom I interacted with shared their stories of triumphs and struggles. It is those stories that connect us and as association professionals, we must be good listeners and story tellers.

Seeing Culture at Work
I can remember instances in Borneo where I was speaking at a global tourism conference in Malaysia. I had the rare opportunity to stay with the Iban Tribe along the river banks far from civilization. I was impressed with the chief and his wife for creating a well-balanced community of productive, happy people. Each villager had their responsibilities, tasks, and talents that benefited the village. In many ways, this is the same culture that most associations are, or should be, striving to achieve. Each person brings their individual talents to contribute to the greater outcome of the communities they serve.

Another example includes overdoing it in Bangkok. I was tired jetting off to other Southeast Asia countries for the fourth week in a row consulting and conducting hospitality sales training seminars. I returned to Bangkok from Singapore and headed for the airport bus to Pattaya where I lived. Just then, I lost my passport and wallet on the bus. I was terrified and worried about how I was to get out of this situation. A woman sitting in front of me who worked at the Chanel store in the airport assisted me with retrieving my stolen items. She called the police and the captain started to interrogate each passenger on the bus. Finally, a local Thai man was found guilty and returned my passport/wallet. The fellow stranger who helped me was so kind and did not accept a reward. While it is nice to be recognized, often times the best reward is the satisfaction of knowing we helped a total stranger. That same feeling resonates with many who work in mission-oriented occupations like associations and nonprofits.

Making Connections
Within these destinations, modern travel can connect you from the Chicago’s and New York’s of the world to the most remote places on earth. Transporting yourself to a place where they eat differently, speak their own language, and practice their own customs from business to religion. Just as a wealthy man from a Saudi Royal family might not be able to conceive your lifestyle, an underprivileged person from the streets of Manila has the same basic human necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. Travel sets you free from the unfamiliar and allows the connection of people to explore the wonders of the globe.

As association professionals, our quest is to find the connections between our organization’s mission and the people it impacts. In many ways, the stories I share in the book reflect how a life-long journey across the globe is also a guide for being successful in that endeavor.

Dr. Edward Dramberger is principal of a global Hospitality/Tourism consulting firm where he speaks, trains, writes industry articles and leads tour groups to the next Destination. He is on a three-month book signing tour where he finishes in New York on September 14th at The Producers Club. For more information about the book, please visit