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Biography of Rob Sangster

Independent Travel Editor for Transitions Abroad

Rob Sangster's book on international travel, Traveler's Tool Kit: How to Travel Absolutely Anywhere, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Now in its Third Edition, it is widely available in bookstores, via the Internet, and as an E-book. It was recently published in China. Excerpts can be found at www.travelers-tool-kit.com.

Rob's next book, titled “Life Map,” is approaching readiness for publication.

For over a year, Rob wrote a weekly column titled On the Road Again for the newspaper with the largest circulation in the Mid-South.

For two years, Rob Sangster has written and delivered weekly travel-related essays on public radio.

An audiotape of Rob Sangster's travel essays, “The Joys of International Travel,” is distributed in Canada and the US.

Rob Sangster writes regularly for various national travel-related publications. His most recent feature articles were on Jordan and Jerusalem, Turkey, Botswana, and Myanmar.

Rob occasionally write articles for newspapers, the most recent was an article in the Seattle Times.

Rob Sangster is Travel Editor for GORP, a large adventure travel site on the Web. As such, Rob has written more than 30 feature stories for GORP on international travel, including destination pieces.

Although he has traveled in more than 100 countries on seven continents, Rob Sangster enthusiasm for writing about the essence of far corners of the planet and their people remains undiminished.

Tim Leffel and Rob Sangster's Traveler's Tool Kit

Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America

You won’t find Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America in the bookstore until March 2008, but if you’re headed south of the border thereafter, purchase a copy; it will no doubt save you money in the long run. Both authors are seasoned travelers who know how to get the most valuable experiences for their dollar. There are three chapters on finances: How to Save Money, How to Prepare a Reliable Budget, and How to Manage Money Successfully.

Following Sangster’s successful publication of Traveler's Tool Kit: How to Travel Absolutely Anywhere (3rd. ed., 2000), Sangster and Leffel chose to focus on Mexico and Central America because they consider these regions to be “today’s smart destinations.” They cite them as budget friendly, safer than America, easy on travelers’ health (comparative to other world regions), and ideal for the adventurous and culturally minded traveler.

While Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America does not bill itself as a guidebook, the authors provide enough detail for each destination to enable you to start planning your trip. Highlights, 1-week itineraries, sections on “helping out,” and advice on choosing a tour operator or traveling independently are offered for all countries, along with the standard fare. As a bonus, there are special sections, such as “Meeting People,” “Remembering,” “Etiquette,” “Safety,” and “Woman on Her Own.”

What I like most about this book, besides its treasure trove of resources, is the worldview Sangster and Leffel infuse throughout its numerous pages. Their perspective doesn’t come through rose-colored glasses, but it is nonetheless inspiring: they remind us of the power of travel to change lives and to teach us “how people elsewhere live and what they care about.” This book will help you get the most out of your trip(s), and then some.

Sherry Schwarz editor of Transitions Abroad Magazine.

About Rob Sangster

Rob Sangster's Traveler's Tool Kit

Rob Sangster's Traveler's Tool Kit: How to Travel Absolutely Anywhere

You’ll receive the greatest benefit from the following pages if you feel you can rely on what I say. I hope my words will establish that trust as we go along. Still, when I’m reading a book, especially one offering advice, I want to know a little about the author. In case you’re like me, here’s a sketch of the person behind these words.

As I grew up in Boston, my parents often used nice weekends to visit New England’s nooks and crannies such as the Old North Church in Boston and the stone fences of Lexington from behind which farmers struck blows for independence. We vacationed in New Hampshire’s apple orchards and the deep, cool woods of Maine. Later, living in Houston, the family traveled from the eerie bayous of Louisiana to the bone-dry canyons of Big Bend National Park. In other words, travel, even of limited scope, was established as a value in my mind.

Since the Navy paid most of the costs of my college education, at graduation I received a formal invitation to board an aircraft carrier for a three-year guided and catered tour (conducted by the biggest tour operator of them all). Fortunately, the tour took place during a period when no one was shooting at anyone, so I had the opportunity to read books I’d missed along the way and, as recruiting posters promised, “see the world”—well, at least the part of the world visited by the Seventh Fleet. But it kept the travel bug well nourished.

After the Navy, I went to Stanford Law School to prepare for what could have been a fairly conventional life. As it turned out though, after practicing corporate law for a few years, I switched to the public sector for jobs in finance and housing policy in Washington, D.C. Then I returned to the private sector as a real estate developer with some interesting entrepreneurial adventures thrown in (including a natural foods restaurant, an importing company, and a foundation which donates, to Third World villages, equipment that disinfects contaminated water).

For a number of those years I did a little domestic travel, such as river trips, skiing, and hiking, but limited myself to the standard one- or two-week vacation. Then I had an unexpected opportunity to join a group running 277 miles of Colorado River whitewater in the Grand Canyon in 14-foot wooden dories. As it happened, the chance to take the three-week trip came at a time when I thought I was too busy to get away. Wrestling my left brain to the ground, I went anyway.

The length of the trip gave me enough time to separate myself from home and business and to synchronize myself completely with where I was; time to appreciate the geological evidence of more than a billion years of earth cycles, the tales of the ancient Anasazi recorded in their artifacts, and the profound night silence. Above all, I learned how important it is to be on the road long enough at a stretch for a magic “click” to occur in my psyche. That was my first glimmer of the potential rewards of travel. It was a turning point.

When I returned from that trip, everything was under control. My office was only days away from issuing $80 million in bonds but everyone had done his or her job beautifully. That was the day I gave up the fantasy of being indispensable—and was emancipated. I was also a sitting duck for an article in National Geographic a few months later that described New Zealand’s Milford Track as “the finest walk in the world.” I realized I was ready to see the rest of the world—and bought an airline ticket the next day.

Living fully is infinitely more important to me than earning the last possible dollar. Besides, learning about people and experiencing the physical majesty of our planet are like money in the bank. I think of the priest who reportedly said, “In all my years, I’ve never once heard a man on his deathbed say, ‘My only regret in life is that I didn’t spend more time in the office.’ ” I’ll never say that either.

At the time I write this, I’ve traveled in India, China, other Asian and Southeast Asian countries, Central America, about half of the countries in Africa and South America, a fair number of the Pacific Islands, most of Western and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and throughout the United States. I’ve visited favorite places more than once. India and New Zealand are at the top of the list, but then there’s Peru, Botswana, Namibia, Egypt, Chile, and . . . We’ll talk more about special places as we go along.