Woo Hoo, My Brian Thacker Interview
Brian Thacker is a Travel Writer who thinks of silly travel ideas, such as turning up to numerous countries without a guidebook and actually acting on them.
He then turns these experiences into a number of Funny Travel Books which are a great read.
Actually, I’m a bit envious of him – he travels, writes, gains income from his books, and then goes travelling again!
Anyway, I’m on a roll with this interviewing stuff! After managing to score Paul Sorvino and Peter Moore for a chat, Brian’s agreed to an interview after a sizeable deposit to his bank account (Check out his official site !).
If you’re wondering what a ‘Possie’ is, that’s a fusion term between a ‘Pommy’ (an Englishman) and an Aussie! See more about Brian Thacker’s bio.
Brian Thacker Yaks Away!
Anyway, here is the Brian Thacker interview!
The Travel Tart: Hi Brian, thanks so much for this opportunity to have a chat. You’re travel writing is definitely skewed towards the humourous side of travel – which is why I’m drawn to it! The irony is, if something is funny, it’s because it’s so close to the truth! I was wondering, what made you decide to become a travel writer, especially one with such a humourous bent?
Brian Thacker: I was working as a tour leader dragging drunk 18-30 Aussies and Kiwis around Europe when I read my first travel book. It was Bill Bryson’ ‘Neither Here nor There’ and I thought what a great job being a travel writer would be. I didn’t think it was something I would (or could!) actually do, but when I got back home to Australia I went through my travel journals (I’d written down all the fun and games passengers, crew and the locals got up to) and thought that I could (and should!) write a book. So, I wrote down a few stories and decided that I could do it then took four months off to write what would become my first book ‘Rule No.5: No sex on the bus’. The humourous bent part was easy because it was hilarious what happened on those tours. I couldn’t make that shit up.
The Travel Tart: In your most recent book, ‘Sleeping Around’, you ‘couch surfed’ around the world and stayed with a number of interesting characters. Can you put to bed the fears of some travellers who think they might accidentally book a couch with an axe murderer? I know there are checks and balances with Couch Surfing, such as an eBay-like rating system, but what’s your take on this relatively new phenomenon on travelling?
Brian Thacker: When I did my travelling for my book there was 140,000 members on couchsurfing.com. There is now close to two million with almost 20,000 joining every week. It keeps growing because it works, The whole reference thing is wonderful. If 20 people have vouched for someone then it’s very unlikely that they won’t be as good as their references say!
The Travel Tart: Like yourself, I like the odd beer now and then. I try beer(s) in every country that I go to, as well as getting stuck into the food. I’ve even developed a Beer Index where I’ve measured the affordability of a country by the price of its beer per litre. I’ve even sampled millet beer out of a plastic rubbish bin in Namibia – which was actually pretty good! I was just wondering, trying to pick your favourite beer can be quite a taxing task, but what’s the worst beer you’ve ever drank?
Brian Thacker: Oh, that’s a hard one. I think I have two joint winners. The first is Stella beer from Egypt. I’m sure it’s made from water from the Nile with very suspicious bits at the bottom of each bottle. And the other shocker is Tooheys New. It’s just tastes horrible and they don’t even make it from Nile water.
The Travel Tart: When I talked to Peter Moore, he mentioned that his travelling days have been somewhat transformed since the arrival of kids. How about yourself? How has the addition of kids changed your travel habits? Are you planning to badger your kids into becoming travel addicts like ourselves?
Brian Thacker: Having a kid just changed the way I travel (and write). I do much shorter trips and if I have to travel longer then I split the trip up over a few months so that I’m not away from home too long. It does also have it’s advantages, though. Because I work from home I can pick up my daughter from school and help out in class and I also get to hang out during school holidays. And yes, my daughter is a great little traveller – she’d been on 50 flights by the time she was five!
The Travel Tart: I also asked Peter when was the specific time and place where he was bitten by the travel bug. Mine was in Kosovo, Peter’s was in Vanuatu. How about yours?
Brian Thacker: I first ‘travelled’ when I did my Big Trip OS to Europe when I was 24. From the moment I stepped on that plane I was hooked and by my first day in Frankfurt (where I just wandered around aimlessly) I was totally addicted.
The Travel Tart: I pissed myself laughing when I read about you visiting the Tamworth Country Music Festival in New South Wales, Australia as part of The Naked Man Festival. Especially the bit where you heard someone singing the song ‘I’ve Never Been To Bed With An Ugly Woman But I’ve Sure Woken Up With A Few.’ What a great title! One of the joys/horrors of travelling is coming across the different types of music that is usually blasted through numerous sub-woofers in barely roadworthy vehicles. What was your worst combination of a) music and b) transport?
Brian Thacker: Recently I was in East Timor and I caught a 16 seat bus that had 33 people in it. It was like a nightclub. There was blaring distorted house music, it was full of smoke and someone threw up on my shoes.
The Travel Tart: What was your scariest plane ride? Mine was when I took an internal flight in Kazakhstan, and I was transported in a plane that was, at best case, 25 years old (I love the Yakalov 40). I remember checking my bags in, going through security, and then having to load my bags on the plane myself! But the crew realised that there were too many passengers, and not enough seats! This created havoc where the flight engineers unbolted some ‘business’ class seats, and then they installed 5 extra rows with seats borrowed from another plane! This all happened while I was on the tarmac watching the whole fiasco! But I lived to tell the tale!
Brian Thacker: On a flight from London to Agadir in Morocco (with Royal Air Maroc) we got off the plane and when we were waiting to get into the terminal my girlfriend asked ‘Why does the sign say Marrakesh?’ We’d got off at the wrong stop. When we ran back to the plane a platoon of army dudes with very large guns ran after us and began screaming and waving those very large guns into our faces. Now that was scary!
The Travel Tart: Do you have any crazy adventures planned for the near future?
Brian Thacker: I’m currently writing my new book, so I had my dose of crazy adventures last year. I travelled through South East Asia using the original 1975 Lonely Planet ‘South East Asia on a Shoestring’ as my only guidebook. It was a wonderful trip and will make for a wonderful read!
The Travel Tart: Looking forward to that one coming out! Hey, I’m crazy too, and I’d like to tag along! 😉 Thanks for your time and enjoy your travels!
Brian Thacker Books!
If you feel like a laugh and want to stir up your Wanderlust at the same time, check out any of Brian Thacker’s books.
Anyway, Brian Thacker’s titles are:
- Rule No. 5: No Sex on the Bus: Confessions of a Tour Leader
- I’m Not Eating Any of That Foreign Muck: Travels with Me Dad
- Planes, Trains & Elephants
- The Naked Man Festival: And Other Excuses to Fly Around the World
- Where’s Wallis?
- Sleeping Around: A Couch Surfing Tour of the Globe