Interview With Patricia Schultz, Author of '1,000 Places to See Before You Die'

What inspired you to first write '1,000 Places to See Before You Die'?
Patricia: I had been working as a travel writer and guidebook author for a number of years before beginning '1000 Places' in the mid-1990s, gathering together an enormous collection of favorite places and things that I hoped to one day put between two covers. I wanted to create a remarkable mix of places grand and unknown that I could share with those who loved travel as much as I.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when updating the book?
Patricia: It was simple but daunting: how to keep all the original places while making room for all the many (many!) discoveries I had made or heard about since the 2003 release of the first book.
Has your book changed the way people travel in your opinion?
Patricia: I think in some small way it has made people aware of the vast number of wonders the world promises, if only we set out to explore them. I think the book is important for those who haven't yet traveled much, as well as those who have traveled tirelessly but are always looking for new suggestions. And everyone in between!
What travel trends have you seen of late that are the most encouraging? The least?
Patricia: They're hardly new trends, but it is encouraging to see that women are feeling more inspired and confident about traveling alone more; that baby boomers are keeping fit longer and not waiting until retirement to travel; multiple-generation trips that create invaluable memories and experiences for everyone; voluntourism opportunities grow; house and apartment swaps are relatively easy these days; I could go on!

Those things I don't like nor understand are the new mega-cruise ships that hold thousands and thousands of passengers; apps that translate for us, eliminating any incentive to learn even a minimal vocabulary; overlooking the traditional history-rich European countries when rushing to "collect" far-flung destinations (Laos, Myanmar) for bragging rights. But at the end of the day, whatever gets you off the couch -- it's all good. Some folks love those massive cruise liners. You stand to go home with 4,000 new best friends.
Which U.S. destinations have become more travel friendly than ever before in your opinion?
Patricia: I think the state of Utah is astonishingly beautiful for the uncommon number of state and national parks from Bryce and Zion to Canyonlands and Escalante. The guidebooks and websites for independent travelers are countless, and for the cost of a tank of gas, the experience is rich and unforgettable.
What are the biggest mistakes U.S. travelers make when planning a vacation?
Patricia: It is a fine line between planning your schedule too tightly, leaving no space for chance, mistake or serendipity -- and not researching or planning your time at all. I understand that it is liberating and thrilling to leave yourself at the mercy of the travel gods, but if it is peak season and you roll into town without a hotel reservation, get ready to sleep under the stars. Another mistake is being unrealistic about how much (or little) you can see during the course of the time you have available.
What's the best and least-known U.S. excursion right now for budget-conscious travelers?
Patricia: Such a massive country is always going to remain unknown and unvisited to most of us. East coasters might not be aware of how stunningly beautiful Idaho or the neighboring states and coastlines of Washington and Oregon. Conversely, west coasters might overlook the history-rich states out east such as Virginia, Kentucky or Massachusetts. Large cities will always test your budgets, but nothing that can't be accommodated with careful planning. Hit the small stuck-in-time towns for an authentic and all-Americana experience without blowing your budget.
What's the predominant perception of Americans when you travel abroad?
Patricia: I am happy to say that the time of The Ugly American is behind us. But ask 5 different foreigners their impressions of us, and I'm sure you'll get 5 different opinions. Remember that we are guests in their country, be curious, respectful, courteous and appreciative, and be guaranteed of a great experience wherever you go.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for one month with your family, where to?
Patricia: Italy. For a relatively small country, there is a phenomenal amount to experience (and eat!). And it is wonderful for all generations. I'd use Tuscany in central italy as our base and do day trips to hill towns and the museums of Florence, Siena and Lucca. And then set off for places farther north (Bologna, Venice, the Lake District) or south (Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Sicily). One could spend a lifetime in Italy and barely scrape the surface.
What are you looking to conquer next?
Patricia: I host trips to favorite destinations, and in November I will step foot on my 7th continent -- Antarctica -- for the first time. Join me! Patricia Schultz
Patricia Schultz is a veteran travel journalist with 25 years of experience. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Everyday with Rachel Ray and Travel Weekly. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel TV show based on her book '1,000 Places to See Before You Die'.

To pick up the Second Edition of '1,000 Places to See Before You Die', visit her website or find a bookstore near you.