Brandon Wilson is an adventurer and travel writer. From the Himalayas, to Mount Kilimanjaro, to the Camino de Santiago, to his most recent 2,620-mile trek from France to Jerusalem, Wilson has been in over a hundred countries and faithfully recorded his experiences in his books. He's the author of the award-winning titles Yak Butter Blues, Dead Men Don't Leave Tips, and Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace. In this fascinating interview, Wilson talks about his books, travels, writing habits, and his most rewarding and scariest moments as a travel writer.
Thanks for being here today, Brandon. Tell us a bit about yourself. When did your passion for traveling begin?
It’s always been there. I had my first taste of life on the road at six and haven't stopped. It all began in an old red and white Chevy with a burlap-covered water bag strapped to the front grill. With my father behind the wheel, we sailed wide-eyed across the wide expanse of an uncluttered America. I was hooked on travel, my sweet addiction.
What compelled you to put your travels into words — your love for writing or your desire to share your experiences with others?
Although I’ve always enjoyed sharing my travel experiences with others, this need became a necessity in 1992. An adventurous 1,000 km. trek across Tibet transformed into a journey with greater meaning.
Before attempting a trek the Chinese authorities called “impossible,” my wife and I learned that Tibetan people today are forbidden to walk to their sacred sites in Nepal. So we vowed to make it in their stead. For forty nights as we crossed the wild Himalayan plains, we stayed with poor Tibetan families, sipping yak butter tea around their fire, listening to their stories, and witnessing their faith and hardships firsthand. Upon returning, I was determined to share their story with the rest of the world. It was a message too important to be ignored. That story, their “message in a bottle,” became my first award-winning book, Yak Butter Blues. It’s the true tale of a culture pushed to the edge of extinction and the human link connecting us all.
Quite by accident, crossing Tibet also changed my outlook on travel and on life. Although I’d explored nearly 100 countries while checking must-sees off a checklist, trekking across Tibet was a transcendent experience. I was hooked on slow and “deliberate” travel, which nourished a connectedness with nature, and a Zen-like link to the spiritual.