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Tim Leffel
Tim Leffel

GoNOMAD Writer Profiles

Tim Leffel: Contrarian Traveler


Tim Leffel is an award winning travel writer who has dispatched articles from five continents for nearly two decades. He is the author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune and The World’s Cheapest Destinations
and Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America (co-written with Rob Sangster).

He edits the narrative webzine Perceptive Travel.

Below are links to all his stories on GoNOMAD:

Avoiding The CNN Effect

"I don't want to go there. It's way too dangerous."

You've probably heard that one before. You may have even said it yourself, after hearing the message of danger coming out of your TV for days on end. But is the danger real, or does it just make for a good story that will increase ratings?

And dangerous compared to what? As an American, I live in a country that leads the developed world in most crime statistics: the most guns, the most murders, the most armed robberies, the most inmates, and the most of nearly any other nasty statistic you can think of.


The US also has one of the highest traffic fatality rates (partly because we spend so much more time in our cars.) Yet when Americans think about going overseas, we see the world as being fraught with danger. If the bird flu doesn't get you, sharks or mad bombers will.

The Caribbean all-inclusive resorts thrive on this fear, as do the other Club-Med types catering to Europeans and Japanese, from Sharm-el-Sheik to Southern Spain to Saipan. They promise to set you up in a protected enclave, one in which you won't have to interact with any scary locals who are out to rob or flay you. Read more...

Smokin' Sadhus

A Sadhu making hashish
A Sadhu making hashish

The half-naked man pushes back his orange turban and getsdown to work. He breaks off chunks of hash and mixes them with tobacco in his bony fingers, then dumps the contents into a chillum (conical clay pipe).

The flaming wooden match lights up the painted lines on his forehead as he shouts, "Bom Shiva!" and starts puffing away, his head disappearing behind a cloud of smoke. After two massive lungfulls, he passes the pipe on to his brethren, more thin men dressed in a minimum of cloth, with long beards, matted hair, and a happily glazed look in their eyes.

They are sadhus, India's wandering holy men. They have renounced their worldly life, said goodbye to both their possessions and their families, and now lead a life of celibacy, ascetic yoga, and a search for enlightenment.

Most make pilgrimages across the subcontinent and spread ashes on their body, while the most radical test themselves by holding one arm in the air for years on end or spending twenty-four hours a day standing up. A far more pleasant and widespread characteristic, however, is the tendency to get stoned out of their minds on a regular basis. Read more...

Lexington, Kentucky: Where Bourbon, Betting and Breeding Are a Family Affair

Before the first race, we wandered through the gift shop. "Mommy, can you buy this toy pony for me?" the little one asks.

The author's daughter looks for likely picks.
The author's daughter looks for likely picks.

"Only if your horse wins," Mommy replies, without even blinking.

So there we are, before the races even started, committed to betting on behalf of a girl in kindergarten. I’m not sure a five-year-old can pick up on the subtleties of risk analysis yet, but she seems to do fine picking horses by the color the jockey is wearing or whether the horse has “princess” in its name.

Here I am poring over race odds and jockey history, but she wins just as often by going for pink or purple.

The slight tinge of guilt I have in the beginning for introducing a toddler to gambling fades after the horses started thundering down the track, with everyone yelling for their hopeful champ. The guilt blows away for good in a cloud of dust when three elementary school girls in front of us jump up and scream, "We won! Daddy we won!" Read more...



GoNOMAD stories by Tim Leffel:

A Family Fun Blast-off in Huntsville, Alabama

Vancouver, BC: Slow Food and Fast Sightseeing

Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America

Pyramids to Panahachel: A Family Vacation in Guatemala


Florida's Gulf Islands: An Old-Fashioned Family Vacation

Lexington, Kentucky: Where Bourbon, Betting and Breeding Are a Family Affair

Searching for Secrets on the Country Music Highway

Smokin' Sadhus: India's Wandering Stoned Holy Men

Mexico Is So Much More than Cancun!

Avoiding The CNN Effect: "I don't want to go there. It's way too dangerous."

It’s Not How You Go, but Where: An Excerpt from The World’s Cheapest Destinations

Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: GoNOMAD Book Excerpt

Travel Diets: The Backpacker Weight Loss Plan


Freedom from Travel Lists




Tim Leffel

If YouAre Going to Travel Around the World, Put Away the Checklists By Tim Leffel
by Tim Leffel The half-naked man pushes back his orange turban and gets down to work. He breaks off
Saturn rocket at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center - photos by Tim Leffel A Family
on the balconey of his hut in the jungle. The Heat of the Day Dissipates By Tim Ward The heat of day
Author Tim Cope riding with his dog. This new book is about an expedition across Mongolia
GoNOMAD DESTINATION MINI GUIDE: Sri Lanka By Tim Taylor WHERE Sri Lanka is located
them popular with celebrities. Nicholas Cage owns an island here. So do Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
writer Tim Leffel puts the glitz and glamour of travel journalism aside in his new book, Travel
Writer Profiles: Kent St. John David Rich Max Hartshorne Paul Shoul Sony Stark Tim Leffel
Travel Diets: The Backpacker Weight Loss Plan By Tim Leffel "What did you notice
Profiles: Kent St. John David Rich Max Hartshorne Sony Stark Paul Shoul Tim Leffel Cindy
Uxmal Mexico: So Much More Than Cancun! By Tim Leffel Next time youAre with a few
The author's daughter looks for likely picks at Keeneland Racetrack. Photos by Tim Leffel
Gulf Islands: An Old-Fashioned Family Vacation By Tim Leffel Sand dune, sea oats, and evergreen
Hartshorne Sony Stark Paul Shoul Tim Leffel Cindy-Lou Dale Kelly Westhoff Mirdula Dwivedi






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