When Henry Rollins was a kid, his mother took him on countless trips across the globe. On one such journey to Greece, the KCRW-FM (89.9) radio personality and former Black Flag frontman remembered eating dinner next to a beautiful body of water when a group of hungry children swimming nearby looked up at the restaurant full of tourists.
The travelers around him began laughing and throwing breadsticks at the children "like they were human seagulls." He was so appalled by the tourists’ actions that the vivid memory stayed with him forever.
“I came back to Washington, D.C., and I never thought about food and poverty the same way again,” Rollins said. “The wisdom that will rub off on you when you travel is invaluable.”
Rollins, who has traveled to 81 countries – everywhere from Nepal to Iran – shared many of these life-changing travel experiences with attendees of the L.A. Times Travel Show at the L.A. Convention Center on Sunday.
Growing up, Rollins said would use his mom’s National Geographic magazines as a “future plan.” He looked to travel as “the answer to many things that are wrong” with the world.
Recalling tales of trips to South Africa, India and other parts of the world, Rollins said traveling allows people, including himself, to cast aside their ignorance and fear.
“When you get out into the world you meet people whose humanity eclipses your own,” he said. “And hopefully you can bring it back to your normal 9-to-5 day and come back different than you’ve been before.”
Now he "preaches from the gospel of travel," noting that visiting other places is what allows people to realize how life is short and fast. “In our adult life we have a pretty mundane existence … unless you’re a hit man,” he joked. “If you don’t do something to break up that adult life of 9-to-5 day, you’re going to get real old real fast.”
Once people start traveling, they can’t stop. “You can be dirt-poor and have quite a thick passport,” he said. “I had no money to pay the rent but I was really seeing the bit of the world. … That curiosity bug starts getting bigger and bigger. You start using journeys as a means to other journeys.”
His travels have made him realize the world is “an amazing and incredibly friendly place” and he’s a better person because of these experiences.
“Travel makes us fascinating. Travel makes us amazing. Travel makes us adventurists," he said.
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