Why running toward adversity can make you a smarter traveler

Lynn Hayes is one of the few travel experts I know who specialize in covering family travel, which can be an endless cycle of theme-park stories, summer vacation tips articles and roundups of specials. Yet she manages to make it interesting by getting off the beaten path to “explore fresh ideas and to immerse myself in new experiences.” Hayes is the editor and owner of Familytravel.com and Aisle52.com, and writes a weekly, syndicated travel column that originates with the Dallas Morning News.

What makes her the world’s smartest traveler? Other experts try to help you avoid trouble when you’re on the road. Hayes often runs toward it. I’ve personally seen her face down an oncoming tsunami in Hawaii. Once, she got lost in China and stumbled into a small town having a colorful parade “This happy accident remains one of my favorite travel memories,” she says. Encouraging her readers to embrace the good and bad parts of travel seems to be her mission. “By leaving our self-imposed or cultural constraints behind, we become open to adventure and are better able to see the world — and sometimes ourselves — in a shimmering new light,” she says. Maybe we should all be running toward our problems a little more. There’s something to be said for meeting adversity head-on, and learning from it.

The World’s Smartest Traveler is a weekly series about the visionaries who inspire us to travel smarter. Its curator, Christopher Elliott, is the author of the upcoming book, How to Be The World’s Smartest Traveler (National Geographic Books).