Some days, I think the world has too many travel blogs. Other days, I get so excited about a gem of a blog I find and can’t get enough of! Well, the couple that created UncorneredMarket.com, Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll, had me at “You might find us on a grimy, overnight chicken bus in rural India one day and sharing the story with an ambassador the next.” Now, that’s the kind of adventure I love to read about!
Blending wit, passion and loads of travel experience, the folks at Uncornered Market bring a vibrant voice to the travel blog arena. Audrey first got hooked on travel when her parents took her to live in India at 5 weeks old and Daniel caught the travel bug at a young age as well, pondering a ratty reinforced paper globe in an old World Book encyclopedia. (Ahh, pre-Internet memories, how lovely!) Read on for more travel insight and adventure in my interview with the creators of Uncornered Market.
Global Basecamps: You had me at “You might find us on a grimy, overnight chicken bus in rural India one day and sharing the story with an ambassador the next.” That’s quite the gamut. Can you tell us a little about your travel philosophy and how this fits into it?
Uncornered Market: The possibility to meet, have conversations with and appreciate all sorts of people across socioeconomies and cultures – that’s what makes us tick. We have something to learn from everyone.
Regarding how this connects with our core values: We believe that everyone – from the ambassador to the chicken bus man -- deserves to be met where they are at and treated with respect.
Global Basecamps: I loved your post on how to handle the difficult “where are you from?” question. So, perhaps you can model that by telling us where you are from.
Uncornered Market: We’ll flip our usual styles:
Audrey grew up as a foreign service brat (i.e., child of U.S. diplomats) and spent her childhood in India, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, and Gabon with high school and college vacation trips to Tanzania and the Ivory Coast. The place she spent the most time in the United States was Vienna, Virginia outside of Washington, DC – this is where her mother still lives and she still considers it one of her many homes (with San Francisco and Prague being two others). She also lived for two years in Estonia as a Peace Corps Volunteer and lived in Prague for five years before embarking on this current journey.
Dan’s exotic childhood was spent in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Cornell (upstate New York), and headed to Washington DC, Dallas and finally San Francisco before moving to Prague, Czech Republic at the end of 2001. His first trip outside of North America – to India in 1997.
Global Basecamps: Have you really been on the road 1374 days straight? On which day did you decide there wasn’t an end date?
Uncornered Market: The counter on our website shows the number of days since we gave up our apartment and hopped on a train out of Prague (December 2006) to begin our journey. We’ve taken a few breaks here and there to visit family, friends, and catch our breath, but we’ve been living out of our backpacks this whole time.
Within the first year of our travels, we began to do some freelance photography and writing. We also decided that we wanted to go deeper into places we visited. We spent 6 months alone in Central Asia and China. All this made it clear that our world endeavor was going to take more than our previously allotted 12-18 months. We realized that we didn’t need an end date – why not keeping doing what we wanted to do for as long as we could?
Global Basecamps: What does “experiential travel” mean to you?
Uncornered Market: We’ll take a different tack on this one and say what it’s not: it’s not about recreating all the facets of life that you became comfortable with at home. For us, experiential travel is about traveling outside your comfort zone and engaging with local people and environment.
Global Basecamps: Have you had any experience with sustainable travel? What do you think of it?
Uncornered Market: One organization that comes to mind is Community Based Tourism (CBT) in Kyrgyzstan. The organization focuses on developing tourism services with regular people in communities throughout the country so that tourism money and skills training stays in communities instead of with tour operators from the capital city of Bishkek. We used CBT for home stays and trekking guides during our visit.
The jury is still out on sustainable travel. Right now, it looks a lot like the travel industry’s version of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). If the motivation is to live up to the ideal, great. It’s our impression, however, that a lot of “sustainable” travel just has a sticker slapped on it, along with a higher price tag. Until some agreement comes to the term (how, we’re not sure), there’s going to be confusion in the area.
The biggest influence we can have on “sustainability” is choosing providers that treat their employees with respect and fair pay, actively involve the community so that money is invested locally and takes measures to reduce impact on the environment.
Global Basecamps: We couldn’t agree more, we work really hard at connecting travelers with providers who have the utmost respect for their employees, local communities and the environment. So, out of all the places you’ve traveled, which destination do you think is the most overlooked or underrated?
Uncornered Market: Superlatives are virtually impossible, but we always are always recommending places like Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan in the former Soviet Union.
Global Basecamps: Which country has the best street food or most memorable meal?
Uncornered Market: This is tough. If pressed, we’d say it’s difficult to beat Thailand. Bangkok is easy street for street food. Then, when you head south to places like Krabi, the scene is incredible and approachable.
Global Basecamps: Krabi is a personal favorite of mine! Alright, I wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t ask you for your number one travel tip.
Uncornered Market: Be humble. It’s pretty incredible what that can do to enhance your own personal growth and to establish rapport with people around the world. Approaching someone with a smile always helps, too.
Global Basecamps: Thanks for bringing such delicious blend of insight and humor to the travel blogosphere. What is your vision for the future of UncorneredMarket.com?
Uncornered Market: To keep people laughing, thinking. The more laughter, thinking and people -- the better.
Uncornered Market started as a traditional travel blog chronicling our journey around the world. It still plays that role, but it has grown beyond traditional destination pieces.
We’d like to be examples of living life deliberately and the benefits of pushing the boundaries of one’s comfort zone. We hope our stories of humanity and style of photography we share help put a personal face on little-known places and cultures that usually appear as splotches on a map during the evening news. The objective is to reduce fear of the unknown and promote engagement.
This is a lot to ask of a website, but we want it to play a role in our goal of making the world a better place than if we weren’t in it.