Newsman Chris Matthews is a proponent of young folks studying overseas or taking a year off to travel before settling down in their careers.
"I wanted to bop off to Europe, but I had to save money for graduate school," says Matthews, 66. "I remember talking to the head of admissions at school about it, but he advised me to stay home and work. And that's what I did. Taking time off seemed like such a luxury back then."
Matthews, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" and the syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show," has also authored "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero" (Simon & Schuster).
Q. How old were you when you took your first major trip?
A. I was 22 and spent 2-1/2 years with the Peace Corps in Africa.
Q. How did your time with the Peace Corps shape your views of the world?
A. I saw so much and knew that there was an entire world that needed to be explored. I used to travel a lot to Mozambique when I could. I would take a bus and then hitchhike. This was back in the '60s and '70s. I did it all by myself.
Q. Would you recommend hitchhiking now?
A. It's not really done these days, is it? It was a great way to meet fascinating people in your travels. It was for me, at least, back when I was in Africa. I had a pretty adventurous life growing up. I don't think people do this kind of thing much in the United States. I don't know that I would recommend hitchhiking necessarily, but I always recommend that kids do like the Germans and Australians do and backpack around the world. Do it as a rite of passage and a part of growing up. And do it before you get your career started when you won't have time to take a month off, much less a year.
Q. Do you thumb your nose at tourists?
A. No, because especially when you're older and have kids and have to work 11 months a year, you need to do what you can. My dad's idea of travel was you go to Paris, see the Eiffel Tower and then head back home. That's how retirees did it way back when. It was more of a checklist than a real trip.
I have three views on how to travel. One is to be a tourist. The second is to hitchhike around, find out the best places to eat and sleep and where to get your cigarettes and all that. The third is to actually become part of the locals themselves so that you're part of the group welcoming hitchhikers. When I did this, the deal was that you let the new people stay overnight with you and they would take you out for a meal. You get to know people that way. It's a great way to live to become a local like I was for two years in Africa.
Q. Did you ever feel that you were in danger overseas?
A. No. I was worried at times, like when I had hitchhiked up to Kilimanjaro and was waiting to be picked up and it grew dark. I was like, "What is plan B here?"
Q. Does your wife share your love of travel?
A. Absolutely. (Kathleen Matthews) is the executive vice president for Marriott International and has seen the world. We travel a lot together, too.
Q. Do you prefer visiting different destinations or hitting your favorite spots?
A. A little of both. I've been to Florida six times this spring alone.
Q. What are some of your favorite cities?
A. This is so hard because I have so many. In the United States, I'd say New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans. Outside of the U.S., there's London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Marrakesh, Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town.
Q. Which hotel stands out?
A. The American Colony (http://www.americancolony.com/) in Jerusalem. All kinds of notables have stayed there, including English kings. The first time I saw it was when I traveled to Jerusalem for a month after I was in the Peace Corps. Of course, I couldn't afford to stay there at that time. All the western journalists hang out at the American Colony. There's a great outdoor bar there. It reminds me a little of some of the places that were in "The Year of Living Dangerously."
Q. Which destination -- that you haven't been to yet -- would you like to visit?
A. I've always wanted to go to Australia. I'd love to go there. I've never met an Australian that I didn't like, so that's a good sign. Australia's the new America in many ways. It's still the frontier. My uncle married an Australian during World War II, so we've got that family connection. But I admit there's a part of me that thinks about "The Thorn Birds" and all those famous Australians -- Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. I enjoy their work.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
Go Away With ... Chris Matthews
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.