Thank you for stopping by the site to check out the final entry in the Humor Travel Life Diversity Series. I've been so happy to be able to share these amazing, inspiring travelers. This series has been about celebrating and featuring travelers of diverse backgrounds, and thank you again to my friends and fellow travelers who have been a part of this series.
Meet Kyle Jarrett!
1. Where is your home base?
Los Angeles, CA
2. What is the last trip you went on?
A 7-day Alaskan cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl
3. What is your favorite place that you traveled to?
Spain. I had so many amazing experiences walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and the people, food, history, and harrowing escapes will stick with me for as long as my human memory will allow.
4. Least favorite?
China. The history is extraordinary, but the air and water were filthy. Babies were pooping on the street through holes in their pants. People were not especially friendly. We were with a tour company, and they made sure we went to every tourist trap. Glad I went, but probably won't go back.
5. What was an important life lesson you learned while traveling?
Time abroad is precious. In some ways, the more you try to see in a limited time, the more you cheat yourself of the experience of a place. As I've started to slow down my travels, I've been grateful to have more time to enjoy the spaces I'm in, rather than constantly checking the clock to ensure I'll have time to see the next.
6. What would you like to see more of in the travel industry overall?
I would like to know more about cultures upfront. Manners, slang, traffic laws... So much of the travel industry is geared toward food and activities (because that's where the money comes from), but when I go to a place, I want to know how to relate to the people with whom I will be interacting. I wouldn't mind also knowing what preconceptions about Americans I'm walking into.
7. Where do you want to travel to next?
I'll be in Texas over Labor Day weekend. Never really "done Texas." I hear great things about Austin lately. Bat bridge, square dancing...
8. What is your craziest travel story?
The Route Napoleon is the first, mountainous leg of the Camino Frances portion of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. In summer, it is lovely, both scenic and challenging. In winter, you just don't take it because people die. Starting El Camino alone, I made sure to ask as many people as I could just out of St. Jean Pied-de-Port to guide me away from the Route Napoleon and keep me on the street route, because they split from each other just out of town.
So I went on my way as the sky got cloudy and rain began to sprinkle, until I came to the village of Huntto, which I recognized from my research of weather along the Route Napoleon. I was crestfallen to discover that I was now 10K up the Route Napoleon in early March with a storm brewing. My only options were to go back 10K and start afresh, or trudge along and try not to die.
As the rain intensified, a group of six French ladies appeared with their hiking sticks and day packs, heading over the Route Napoleon. With my two sentences worth of French, I asked them if I could go with them sur la montagne. They agreed, and though we could not communicate much, we did share a great deal of exclamations. "Ooh!" "La niege!" "Tres beau!" And so on. We trekked up high into the mountains, at times post-holing in the deep snow, looking down on the vultures circling beneath us. The ladies shared their lunch with me, as I had foolishly started walking on Sunday when the stores were closed and I had no food supplies. Not today, vultures!
We descended into Roncesvalles in late afternoon, and the ladies kissed me on each cheek, piled into their taxi, and headed back home. It was my first miracle of the Camino.
9. Can you explain what The Bill Beaver Project is?
The Bill Beaver Project started as a way to get over a boy and to get off Facebook. Originally, I just went out taking photos of my 20-year old stuffed beaver, until I discovered the California historical landmark system and decided to photograph Bill the Beaver in front of all 1,111 of them.
I completed that quest in 2016 and am working on quests to see all the national parks and monuments, and the 7 wonders of the world. Last year, I raised funds to replace a historical landmark plaque that had been destroyed, and I'm working on a second one (fundraising is the worst). At its core, the Bill Beaver Project is an excuse to learn more about the places I visit, and a chance to add some whimsy to my travel experiences.
10. What's your favorite part of the travel experience?
I love the experience of arriving a place I had heard about for years and finding that it was nothing like I expected. For instance, I had no idea of the size of Gettysburg, the sea of monuments stretching for miles, and where, in relation to the battlefield, the Address had been delivered. I'd never expected the Nebraska panhandle around Scotts Bluff to be so gorgeous in the spring time with the yucca blooming against ancient eroded monuments. The feeling of awe and dread setting aside the camera to watch the last 30 seconds of the 2017 solar eclipse... I prepare a lot, but it's the beautiful moments I hadn't planned for that make travel so addictive for me.
11. What do you wish the public understood more of when it comes to the travel experiences for people in the LGBTQ+ community?
LGBTQ+ travelers are as diverse as anyone else when it comes to traveling. Some like adventure, others want to be pampered, still others want to take in as much art and culture as possible. Some just travel to humor their significant other. Pretty standard mix.
12. Do you have any suggestions for ways that the travel industry can be more inclusive for LGBTQ+ travelers?
Show us, write about us, normalize us. But at the same time, don't just show two guys and a rainbow, or make a sex joke, and call it a day. LGBTQ+ travelers need to be seen enjoying their travel in as natural a way as their heterosexual counterparts.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com