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Q & A With Brendan van Son: World Traveler, Editor, Photographer, & Blogger

If you don’t know who Brendan van Son is, you will want to after you read some of his quirky replies in our interview!

Brendan’s managed to make a life around everything having to do with traveling.  Need a magazine?  Yes, he started one!  Need travel photos?  He’s got a whole gallery!  Want to learn how to travel on someone else’s dime?  He’s doing it — now.  And the best part is, he’s still a down-to-earth guy who is darn passionate about traveling despite some of the un-glam travel mishaps he’s had — read on for the details.

Alright, who is Brendan?

I’m just a small town girl, living in a lonely world. Errr. Sorry, I’m not sure where that came from.  I’m Brendan van Son, I am a travel writer and photographer from a small town in Canada.  I am also the editor-in-chief of a little travel magazine called Vagabundo Magazine.

How did you fall in love with traveling?

I’ve always loved traveling, as far back as I can remember really.  In Canada summer was always a favorite time not only because there was no school but we always got to go on little vacations.  We usually stayed quite close to home, but on one occasion we did a 6 week trip all the way from Western Canada to the Mexican border and back.

You’ve been to a lot of places, so you must have an opinion about this.  What are your top 3 favorite destinations and what are your bottom 3?

It’s hard to list my favorite 3 really, but since you’ve put me on the spot I’ll say: 3) The Galapagos Islands 2) Colombia 1) Antarctica.  I hate doing the least favorite because I always feel like maybe I didn’t give that place a chance like I should have, but here it goes: 3) Manchester, England 2) San Salvador, El Salvador 1) Nazca, Peru

And what about if you could only go to one more country for the rest of your life — which would you pick?

That would be quite mean, wouldn’t it?  I’d probably end up choosing Canada because I’d want to see my family!  However, if I wasn’t allowed to choose Canada, probably Colombia since that’s like my home away from home.

Seeing as though you’re quite well-traveled, what travel tips can you share?

Truth is I’m a pretty bad traveler.  I always tell people “do as I say not as I do”.  I tend to get myself into trouble.  I’ve been shot at, kidnapped, robbed of over $3000 worth of camera gear, and so many other things.  So maybe my best travel tip is to learn from my lessons.  The most valuable travel tip I can give you is to explore.  And don’t wait until you travel to explore, you can go out and explore wherever you may be as soon as you’re done reading this.

That is so true!  Speaking of exploring, I noticed that you’re currently gallivanting around Europe courtesy of some sponsors you have – that is amazing!  How did you score that arrangement?

Oh yes, it’s so nice having sponsors.  It means that I can spend my money on more important things, like beer.  The sponsors are something I’ve become quite lucky with.  I follow the mantra that if you don’t ask then they can’t say no.  Have an idea of who your travels may help out and then pitch not how they can help you, but how you can help them.  Sure I get stuff, but they also get a whole lot of very valuable exposure.

What’s been the most interesting thing that’s happened on your trip so far?

I think the most interesting thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been in Europe is that I’ve felt culture shock which is something I didn’t expect.  Someone who travels as much as I do doesn’t like to admit to that, but I felt like I was living in a dream or a parallel universe for the first week or so I was here.

Wow, it just goes to show that even if we travel a lot, there’s always culture shock!  And what about the most trying thing you’ve had to overcome on this trip?

Obviously money is always an issue.  I have to basically fight for survival and live on a tight budget and no guarantees that money is coming through the next week.  However, beyond that, it’s also very difficult to be away from my family and friends for such long periods of time.

What’s the one thing you never travel without?

My camera. I feel like it is my means of living and I feel lost if I don’t have it with me.  I also take ziplock bags with me everywhere I go.

I feel like every place I’ve been has changed me in some way (it’s a good thing!).  What is one place you’ve been that has done the same to you?

Yeah, absolutely, I think that every place we go teaches us a new lesson, or at least reinforces a lesson we already know.  My first solo trip to Central America about 7 years ago definitely changed me as a person.  I left just looking to escape a little bit and ended up “finding myself” as cheesy as it sounds.  I came back from Central America invigorated and inspired.  I ended up making Latin America my life interest until about about a month ago when I finally left the region.

I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that they wish they could travel more but never do!  What advice do you have for them?

Stop making excuses for why you’re not.  I left home with $500 to my name and heaps of debt and I can still manage to do it.  If you really love travel and really want to do it than just do it.  Being scared, broke, or whatever excuse you may have is just holding you back from the growth that travel can bring.

What are your current projects?

I’m working really hard on putting together the spring issue of Vagabundo Magazine which will be out on April 9th.  I’m also working constantly on the Vagabundo Magazine blog which has daily content.  If all that weren’t enough, I’m also working on a new project called Vagabundo Television which puts my pretty face in front of the camera starting quite soon!

How can we learn more about you?

My website, Brendan’s Adventures, is the best place to check out what I’m up to.  It’s filled with my articles and my photographs as well as a bit of an in depth look into my life.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

That’s all for me I think.  Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me!

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Bryan McHeyzer - April 5, 2012 - 11:24 pm

Hi Brendan,
Life must be quite exciting …. travel is a dream a lot of people have. Good to see you are living it.


Anki - April 8, 2012 - 6:31 am

Hi Brendan,

Love to see you living your life to the fullest.Keep writing:)


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