Not only are there 1,000 places around the world to visit before you die, now author Patricia Schultz has hit the road again — and she's serving up another collection of must-visit destinations. This time, it's “1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die.”
The idea was spawned, she says, by some of her earliest memories — vivid ideas that led to her exploration of a succession of fantasy getaways. This kind of traveling, she says, is essential for everyone, and accessible on every budget.
“I have a very vivid recollection of wandering off the family beach blanket in Atlantic City when I was 4,” she says. “I remember the exhilarating sensation of feeling liberated, setting off by myself to explore this new world of sun and sand and surf — feeling untethered and carefree. That unquenched sense of curiosity to explore what awaits down the road is a great part of my character. I hope I can say the same when I am 90.”
She gamely admits there are some regions she still hasn't visited. Large parts of South America still “surprisingly draw only limited American tourism,” she says. And she points to places like Culebra, off the coast of Puerto Rico, Saba or the Grenadines archipelago — all in the Caribbean.
To prepare her new book on the U.S. and Canada, Schultz adopted a new system that differs substantially from her earlier, global volume. Lats time, she began with ideas, then checked them in more than 400 guidebooks. This time, though, she says, “I was more methodical.”
Using Excel spreadsheets of each state and each Canadian province, she made sure no one area got more attention than another, while no particular category, such as museums, was too heavily represented.
Still, among the 1,000 destinations she wound up with, as many as 800 found their way into the book, courtesy of her extensive personal travel. The rest? “Internet research and reading some guidebooks,” she admits.
Some places just compelled their way into the book — from the Newport Jazz Festival to Lake Powell, or Alaska's Inside Passage.
“The fun part was in creating a true, representational mix that would include some of our lesser-known gems,” she says, singling out the Finger Lakes wine region of western New York and the “locked in time” Pleasant Hill Shaker Village in Kentucky.
After that, it's time to broaden out, perhaps venturing abroad, like to the ranch-like estancias of Argentina's Patagonia or a safari in South Africa.
“If you make travel a priority, then I believe you can find the money — create a plan or lock in a destination and departure month and save,” she says. “A few less dinners out, putting off the newer, bigger, better appliance, curbing those shopping sprees.” To get to Rio, for instance, she “lived without a new sofa for the longest time.”
Then there's the question of what to pack. “I always have a group of clothes in one color, usually black, so I can mix and match,” says Schultz. “I also take a camera, a notebook and a pen to jot down observations.”
And despite her chosen profession, she says you should forget planning your trip down to the last second with a library of travel guides even before you set foot outside your door.
“Serendipity is the best travel guide,” she says. “The local people are a traveler's best resource.”
She is frequently known to chat up the locals, complete strangers, asking them where they like to eat and what they like about where they live, then wander the streets and discover a new world spontaneously.
© 2012 Forbes.com