Traveler Tuesday – Ric of Global Gaz
Hey, gang! The new season of Traveler Tuesday is here! Each week I will be introducing you to a different travel blogger via my interview series. I'm passionate about meeting travelers from all walks of life and seeing how they translate their passions online. To kick off the 2017 group I've got a very special traveler, Ric Gazarian of Global Gaz.
I had the honor of meeting Ric in Indianapolis at this year's BlogHouse. I was immediately impressed with him. First, he flew all the way from Thailand to participate in the travel blogging mastermind. Second, he was one of only two gentlemen attendees making him an instant curiosity. And third, he was quiet (that could have been jet lag), contemplative and focused. Also friendly.
Blogging is just a small part of what makes Ric a fascinating traveler. He's an avid photographer, a talented filmmaker, a caring soul, a man on a mission and a sought after interviewee. I enjoyed getting to know Ric, although it was not nearly enough, and I was thrilled that he agreed to participate in Traveler Tuesday so I could learn more.
Let’s meet global travel blogger Ric!
 When and how did you become a traveler?
I had a couple of false starts over the years with a couple of extended trips, but then returned back to corporate life. But my travel really started in earnest in 2012 when I moved to Phuket for four months to volunteer at an orphanage. This started a process of transitioning to mostly full time travel. I am now overseas about 10 months a year, and in the US for about 2 months.
 What kind of traveler do you define yourself as?
I am on a quest to travel to every country in the world. So far I have been to 110 countries, so that means I have 83 left. I really run the gamut, sometimes it is solo travel, other times with friends, or my wife. Sometimes I rent a car and go exploring, but other times, I am taking a bus or maybe flying from city to city. I really run the gamut depending on many different variables.
 What do you love most about traveling?
Discovering and learning. So for instance, I recently spent two weeks in Algeria. For many, the narrative for Algeria is terrorism and civil war. It is not frequently visited when you compare it to say Egypt or Morocco. And for a tourist, there is little information on Algeria. For instance, Lonely Planet has about ten pages on Algeria from a couple of years ago, and Algeria is the largest country in Africa! When I traveled to Algeria, I was fortunate enough to learn the real situation, and wipe away preconceived notions. The people were friendly and hospitable and there is so much to see in the country. Two weeks was not enough!
Also, I love the serendipity of travel. So for instance, I met a taxi driver on a short ride to my hotel in Algiers. The next day I ended up hiring him for a day trip. Before I knew it, I was in a local neighborhood in Algiers, in someone’s apartment. From what I gathered my taxi driver brought me to the home of a famous boxer from the 1960s. Sometimes you need to trust your intuition.
 What do you dislike about traveling?
In general, flying is typically not the highlight of the trip. I am usually in economy 98% of the time. Of course, this is a necessary evil that results in an incredible trip.
 Why should people travel?
Everyone should have their own personal reason, but I would encourage others to use the opportunity to learn about other cultures and places. See how other people live, what they do, where they work, what they eat. Try and meet locals, consider volunteering. I have volunteered a number of times in Armenia and Thailand. This has really made my time more rewarding. I built deeper relationships and learned more about the place I was visiting.
 What famous person would you like to travel with?
I have a podcast (Counting Countries) where I interview people who have traveled to every country in the world or are on their way to accomplish their goal. I have spoken to so many accomplished travelers who have one and see so much. Everyone from Lee Abbamonte to Dave Levart from Dave’s Travel Corner to Randy Williams from Ramblin’ Randy.
 What won’t you travel without?
I bring way too much stuff! I would say most essential is my iPhone and hopefully picking up a local SIM card when I arrive in my new country. I bring everything from my drone to my computer to a GoPro, and then some.
 Travel essentials – 3 things you always travel with.
Three things that allow you to travel anywhere – iPhone, ATM card, and passport. Everything else, you can find and figure out on the road.
 If you’re a foodie, what's your favorite food city? Do you have a restaurant recommendation?
My favorite food is Middle Eastern. So if I am in Jordan, Syria or Lebanon I am a very happy person. There is too much good food to eat there … hummus, chicken shawarma, and falafel. Street food or restaurant, it doesn’t matter. Other MVPs include Argentina, Italy, and India.
 What's one location on your bucket list?
So many….but in August I am crossing off several. Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Atacama Desert, Easter Island, and Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It is a pretty incredible trip. Always happy to get back to South America.
 Do you have a piece of advice for bloggers starting out?
First thing was I learned there were no real shortcuts. For me, it was creating content that I enjoyed writing about or photographing. Try to create and produce on a regular basis. Demonstrate value. In addition, like any industry, attend conferences and network with your peers. Try and find a mentor. Also, don’t try and be an expert at everything. So for instance, pick one social media channel or maybe two, and become an expert on that channel. Same thing, for video, photography, writing, drone, etc. pick one or two and build your expertise. Look to hiring outside experts and assistants to help you handle all of the different tasks you need to accomplish. There is not enough time in the day to do everything.
Ric's Lightning Round of Favorites
Airport: Boston, since that means I am going home to visit family and friends.
Mode of Transportation: Rental car is a great way to explore and be independent
City or Country: Armenia, I have been here 14 times, every year.
Travel Gear: Chargers and converter, seem to be carrying so many.
Travel snack: Onion and Sour Cream Pringles
Book: Shantaram, best travel book!
Movie: Hit The Road: India (this is favoritism since it is my film)
Song: Little Wing, by Jimi Hendrix
You can keep up with Ric on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and of course on his blog. Wherever you catch him, I am sure you will enjoy his global adventures!
If you'd like to be featured in Traveler Tuesday drop me a line at Misadventures with Andi AT gmail DOT com.
How about you? What would you like to know about Ric?
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110 countries! Incredible. I hope you get to all 193 one day. I have no doubt you will.
Sadly, I’ve only ever been to two countries – America and Canada. Not cool. I’d really love to travel the world. It’s harder with young kids and limited budgets, but if I want something badly enough, I’ll work to it. Right now we’re thinking of going to London and Paris with our kids in the next year. I hope we go really out of our comfort zone eventually too.
Hi Tamara, you need to start somewhere. So great, that you have set a goal for next year for London or Paris. Make it happen, you can do it!
@Tamara, both of those cities are great places to start, I hope you and your family get there and enjoy it!
Andi, thank you so much for featuring me! Awesome!
@Ric, my pleasure, especially with someone who leads as interesting a life as you do!
Ric sounds like a very interesting man. It is awesome to be able to travel and serve the Lord in this way. I love meeting and interacting with other people. Thank you so much for sharing this great article
@Linda, he is truly one of the good guys!
Great to get to know a little more about you, Ric! I was just looking at some posts about traveling in Armenia. One of my good friends’ parents came from Armenia, so she speaks the language fluently. Hoping I can get her to come along on a trip with me!
@Brianna, going with someone you speaks the language and knows the area is such a bonus! I hope you can convince her!
Brianna—you need to visit! So much to see and do there. I hope you get the opportunity!!
This is great! There’s always more to uncover about Ric — a true global citizen! Now I’m hungry for Middle Eastern. Ric, if you are still around…let’s do lunch at Noon O Kabab in my ‘hood! 🙂
@Lisa, I want to join in too, I’ve had schwarma on my mind since walking back from the zoo with Ric!
Andi – you are welcome anytime in Chicago. 🙂
@Lisa, it’s been a while since I’ve been back, need to get there!
WOW! That is all I can say! 110 countries! I am totally jealous! I think it’s amazing Ric volunteered at an orphanage. Such an amazing act! Ric, I hope you can travel the last 83. That would be amazing! I also have to say, your travel snack is on point! We’d be friends! HAHA
@Amanda I have 5 new ones coming up in August and September, slowly but surely. Pringles forever!
Lisa: Meet in the middle? 😉
Sure! Where/when? 🙂
Wow and I thought I traveled a lot, I need to catch up! Ric has a great story, thank you for sharing! I love hearing other people’s perspectives and stories about their travels and what got them started.
@Shannon, so glad you like the series!
@Shannon Thanks! Good luck on your travels!
110 countries!! That is a huge accomplishment. What a great way to spend your time. I love hearing your favorites while traveling. Keep sharing your experiences. It is fun to read.
@Censie, I am sure Ric appreciates that!
@Censie Thanks so much, in Bolivia now…so 111 now 🙂
What a fun idea for a series and Ric Gazarian is a wonderful guest. I really loved his thoughts on getting to know the locals. Especially the idea of getting involved as a volunteer. I’ve also checked out his podcast and am excited to start listening. People who travel always have the best stories! x
@Ali, so glad to hear you like the series and that Ric has a new fan!
@Ali thanks for the feedback, I hope you get the opportunity to check out the podcast, Counting Countries. I talk to some amazing people on the show.
I love this spotlight you are doing. Pretty impressive to be out of the country 10 months out of the year. I’m excited to follow Ric and his journey.
@Michelle, so glad you like the series.
@Michelle Thanks for the feedback….writing from South America now, as I am visiting three new countries here.
I have been dabbling in writing about travel but it is quite a joke in comparison to his travels. Holy travel blogger batman! I can not imagine what it would be like to visit so many different countries, I have barely made my way through this one! I would love to do more traveling with my family and writing about it on my blog but other countries still freak me out a bit although he makes it look easy!
@Melissa, don’t discredit the travel you have done, there is something interesting around every corner, even if it is in your own backyard! Discovering your own region and sharing it with others can be very rewarding!
@Melissa…agree with Andi. When looking at overseas trips, just push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone, and you will get to experience more and more over time.
Great interview with a fellow travel blogger. I relate to him on a lot of his answers and I am a big foodie.
@Kiwi, so glad you enjoyed it!
I love discovering so many new travelers through your site!
@Kristin, each travel blogger is their own special snowflake and I enjoy getting to know them!
That is too cool! talk about memorable experiences! my husband and I hardly travel but I am hoping as our daughters get older we can change that and build some memories in different countries and cultures
110 countries?? Wow! And I thought I was well-traveled! I would really love (and have been pondering if for some time now) to volunteer abroad…I just need to decide when and where!
@Bites … I can not stress enough how great it is to have the opportunity to volunteer, I hope you get the opportunity.
This is such a great interview you have here of Ric. That’s so awesome that he has been to that many countries already. That would definitely be a dream. I can understand not liking the having to go into cattle class part. It is cheaper but it’s so hard to be comfortable there that I struggle with that a lot when I have done flying places. Great to go places but its sad when it takes a couple of days just to adjust once you get there.
@David Thanks for the thoughts…flying is never fun, unless you are up front. But it always worth that sacrafice to get where you want to go!
This is so interesting! Love to hear about other travelers motivations and journeys. Love that Ric went to Algeria and is giving the real low down about the country. I know a lot of countries with this stigma are misunderstood.
@Susan Thanks for the feedback….and yes, Algeria was a great visit.
What an inspiration Ric is! In so many ways, too! Volunteering and traveling to soooo many countries, that’s amazing. I’m sure he’s expanded his outlook so much in his journeys. Looking forward to following along!
@Christina Thanks! I have been very fortunate with my opportunities to travel and volunteer.
What an inspiration! Loved that he visits the less-traveled destinations and how he’s volunteered at an orphanage. I’d love to do some volunteering abroad but I can’t commit to months of being away from work
Such an inspiring interview! I love the spontaneity of travel too, you never know who you’re going to connect with along the way. Some great pictures too!
Wow Armenia every year? That’s so cool! It’s on the top of my list! Great interview!!
@Katie You will have to visit one of these years!
Thank you for sharing this interview! I think this is going to be my favorite segment of the blog
Great series! Ric seems like my kind of traveler. I like volunteering and have done so in two countries, but there are so many other things to see and do. Like Ric said, I have to trust my instinct and hope that adventure comes with letting a taxi driver show me around. So far, I’ve been lucky. It’s the great thing about travel.
@Juliann I like the way you think, and hope you had great experiences when you volunteered.
Andi, thank you for the interview series — it’s great to meet you, Ric! After quitting my job last year to focus on full-time travel, it’s heartening to see that you’ve managed to stay out there and keep it going. I’m really interested to find out more about your experience volunteering in Thailand. That must have been amazing. I also like hearing your story about the taxi driver — trusting people and making connections really is what travel is about on its most meaningful level.
@Ann Congrats on going independent! Good luck on your travels!
Ric is such an interesting guy and so inspiring too! It’s great to know more about the experience of other bloggers.
@Allison Thanks for the compliments! Hope you are good!
Love that photo of Ric looking fierce as he’s walking away from the ocean. 🙂 It was so awesome to meet you and him at BlogHouse, and I love the Traveler Tuesday series on your site. I agree with him 100% about the Middle Eastern food — there’s nothing like fresh falafel and hummus!
@Julianne I channeled my inner Beyonce for my fierce look. 😉
We will have to have hummus next time we see each other.
Wow I really enjoyed reading this. I would love advice about doing travelling with kids !
Wow 110 countries? That’s really impressive! I am a foodie and had never tried Middle Eastern food. Now I’m curious how it tastes. I don’t know if I will go to the Middle East anytime soon, but will start researching restaurants close by!
@Cat It is the best food! I hope you are able to find some great Lebanese food!
I loved meeting Ric at Bloghouse and you did a great interview. People like Ric are why I love blogging. They have such great back stories and love of life. It’s amazing what you can do when you step away from corporate America.
@Jenn Great meeting you as well!
I couldn’t agree more with Ric about everything, especially about the travel essentials!
@Agness Can’t go wrong with the trifecta … passport, ATM card, and iPhone. Safe travels!
that’s an impressive amount of places, I would love to travel as much.
Nice interview, interesting to learn about fellow travelers