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Anthony Bourdain Taught us How to Travel

His shows weren't about food, they were about embracing the "weirdness" of other cultures and not being afraid of what's different.

By: Kyle Frost + Save to a List

People often ask, "what is your absolute dream job?". For me, and for millions of others I'm sure, the answer has always been "to be Anthony Bourdain".

 I'm not sure when I first heard of Anthony Bourdain. I probably stumbled across an episode of No Reservations sometime as a teenager. At the time, I had never been out of the country, wasn't a particularly adventurous eater, and honestly, wasn't that independent or adventurous in general. Something about how Bourdain approached life and other people stuck with me. Every episode you'd not only learn about some crazy weird food in a unique locale, but something about how to treat people. About how to approach things you're not comfortable with. About respect, overcoming fears, and embracing the things that make all cultures on earth unique.

Bourdain's shows were less about food than they were about adventure, curiosity, and embracing the "weirdness" that makes every culture unique. He showed millions of people a different way to travel and explore. There wasn't another person like him on television. He mixed food, geopolitics, culture, and travel, all delivered with his trademark swagger and frankness.

Perhaps his greatest show, for me at least, was his Parts Unknown show set in Iran. He knew what was in the news, what the global perception of this "blank spot on the map", and he went anyways. And what he uncovered and experienced through the lens of a food show was a deeply humanizing look at a complex culture. In his words, "All I can tell you is, the Iran I've seen on TV and read about in the papers, it's a much bigger picture. Let's put it this way: It's complicated." 

I haven't been yet, but visiting Iran is still high on my bucket list.

I'll attribute a solid portion of my travels and life choices to Bourdain's influence. Whether it's choosing to go for street meat instead of something "safe", traveling by myself, getting miles outside of tourist areas to find food and conversation, or not booking a hostel and instead just winging it, I'd like to think that there are pieces of Bourdain's values in much I do. The world is meant to be explored, and however different cultures may seem, people more or less care about the same things. He was an inspiration to millions, and the loss of his distinctive voice is devastating.

If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

- Anthony Bourdain

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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