[This is an interview with our famous travel writer Josh Berman (Nicaragua 1998-2000) that appeared recently on the blog inBed.me, the First Social Booking site for Hostels, Beds and Couches.]
Meet Joshua Berman. He’s written four books for Moon guidebooks, volunteered for the Peace Corps, taken a 16-month honeymoon, worked as a tour guide, and has had his travel writing published in big-name publications like Outside Traveler, The New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler. He’s even eaten raw testicles on the Travel Channel with Andrew Zimmerman! Want to learn more about this professional nomad? Check out the interview below.
You have very extensive experience in the travel world. Let’s start with being a Peace Corps Volunteer. What project were you involved with and what was that experience like?
I served as an environmental education volunteer in the village of La Trinidad, Estelí in Nicaragua from 1998-2000. I worked with teachers in and out of the classroom, worked with children, assisted in Managua and in my village after a major natural disaster (Hurricane Mitch), wrote a lot of letters, and read a lot of books. The experience changed my life - it was an intense ride for over two years, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You also have experience as a tour guide for Central America and Israel. What countries did you lead groups through and what was your favorite part about the job?
After Peace Corps, I lead at least a dozen trips for American Jewish World Service, a fantastic international development organization. I took high school and college students to short-term volunteer assignments and watched my participants as they were inspired and changed by their experiences.
Were there any particular challenges to being a tour guide?
Dealing with hypochondriacs in the campo (countryside) can be difficult; always pack extra oral rehydration salts and placebos.
You took a 16-month round-the-world honeymoon. How did you prepare for such an extensive trip?
My wife and I signed up to volunteer for several short stints (2 or 3 months each) - once in India, once in Sri Lanka, then again in Accra, Ghana. Our host organization (ajws.org) prepared the logistics during our assignments, then we connected them with lengths of travel. Originally, we bought round-the-world tickets, but canceled them halfway through the trip because they felt too restraining.
What types of challenges did you face on the journey?
We both got sick, we both got lonely, but we had each other, so it was pretty easy overall. Coming home was probably the most difficult part.
You also wrote a book series about the extended honeymoon. Tell me about that.
I’m in the final editing stages of a narrative book about our honeymoon. Tentative titles are “Fertile Journey” and “You’re Beautiful When You Vomit,” I haven’t decided. I’ll probably self-publish it this year.
Were there any cities/countries you visited where you felt truly culturally immersed?
We lived for three months in Birpara, India, where we did not see another foreign face the entire time. We lived with two translators and interviewed tea pickers all day - it was pretty deep.
You’ve had the very interesting (but honorable!) experience of eating raw testicles on the Travel Channel with Andrew Zimmerman. What was that experience like?
Andrew was a class act, a real professional storyteller with a contagious passion for life and travel. It was such a fun experience to travel with him and his film crew, both in Belize and also in Nicaragua where we traveled to my Peace Corps village, on a mission to document the strangest cultural foods we could find. It was a blast, especially since most Belizeans and Nicaraguans knew who he was and were so happy to host him.
Any upcoming trips planned?
I’m speaking at a convention of travel writers in the Riviera Maya this June, then it’ll be time to head to Belize to update my book, Moon Belize. Never a dull moment!
Note: About inbed.me the First Social Booking site for Hostels, Beds and Couches. We take the beauty of the Social Web and bring it to the Travel Booking Market by allowing people to connect with fellow travelers before their trip even starts. We strongly believe that travel is not about the places you visit but about the people you meet along the way.
In our blog, we hope to share with everyone the joys of travel and inspire others to go out and have adventures of their own. Meet other travelers, learn travel tips, and gain insight into different cultures, places, and experiences.
Inbed.me was created by a group of young globe-trotters from around the world who met in a hostel in Brooklyn, NY. Knowing first-hand how some hostels are not as social as others, they all shared the dream of building a tool to help travelers choose social and fun hostels, while enabling travelers to connect before they arrive to their destination.
Inbed.me was formed in early 2011 and officially launched during Startup Weekend New York (a competition for entrepreneurs willing to create a new company). Winning second place out of twenty other awesome start-ups, the founders of inbed.me continue to enlist an amazing team of people to help build the product and take it to the next level.
Today, inbed.me has already established relationships with hostels, beds and couches in over 700 cities around the world - soon to take over the planet! We’ll keep working very hard to accomplish our mission. Join us in the adventure!
If you’d like to contribute a post to the blog or be interviewed, please contact Jessica Festa at Jessica@inbed.me.