Charles McCool is a how-to travel expert, author, trainer, and blogger, whose articles and travel advice have appeared in hundreds of online publications, including Condé Nast, Frommers, Orbitz, Smarter Travel, TripAdvisor, and USA Today. As a vacation coach, he helps consumers save money, time, and stress on every trip and shows travelers how to find destinations and deals that fit their travel style and budget. As a corporate vacation coach, Charles McCool works with companies to save money and reduce costs by helping people optimize vacations: happy travelers = happy employees. For more information, please visit McCoolTravel.com and follow him on
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You are an extremely successful travel expert and author. What inspired your interest in the travel industry? As a young single adult, I worked hard and spent much of my free time exploring new places. This was my sanity check, my form of relaxation. This was also before the modern internet (yes, there was such a time), so I booked my travel through travel agents and directly with suppliers (airlines, hotels, etc.). I learned how to optimize my travel experiences—the kids today call it travel hacking. I also enjoyed sharing my findings with others, by explaining to others how to have better vacations, writing articles, and later teaching travel classes.
What is your favorite destination? Like, “which child is your favorite?,” this is an impossible question to answer. I have very fond memories of specific places like Big Sur, St. John (USVI), and Italy. Generally, I am happiest when exploring unpaved roads or just hanging out on a beautiful beach. So, I must be a dirt person.
What is your #1 Bucket List Travel Destination? Keeping a list (I prefer Dream List, Wish List, or Travel List rather than the “b” term) is not really my style. I do jokingly say that the one place I want to visit on Earth is Marianas Trench. Really, though I have not even been to two continents (South America and Antarctica) and have seen very little of Africa, Asia, and Australia.
As a travel professional, what has been your greatest success? Receiving payment for my travel advice always astounds me. Whether I get paid for hosting a travel chat on Twitter for teaching travel skills to a group, or for helping someone plan a trip, I am honored that someone values my experience and that I provide a valuable service doing something I love.
Having met you recently my son and I were both drawn to your spirit. Many times he said “I want to be like Charles when I grow up. He works hard but also lives care-free.” It seems you have grasped the importance of taking in the world around you. What do you believe has been your greatest inspiration for this lifestyle? That is really sweet. Maybe that is my greatest success. 😀 I know that my travel philosophy has evolved and is evolving. A few inspirations that shaped my current travel philosophy include Rick Steves (the first half of Europe Through the Back Door powerfully resonated), the Life Is Good brand (I read the book on the Fathom cruise where we met), Jimmy Buffet (has made a business of fun), and countless others. I have a friend who is currently walking Route 66 and that amazes me. Before my first foreign solo trip, one of my mother’s friends told me not to stress about packing, because whatever I think I need I will find there—plus it will be an adventure to shop in other countries and fun to use unfamiliar toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. I think it is so empowering to travel somewhere new without all the familiar comforts. Finally, my Northern Ireland ancestors gave me an amazing gift and at some point I had a paradigm shift that I should live up to my “McCool” surname.
I love sharing inspirational quotes with my readers. What quote would you share with someone inspiring and motivating them to not only ‘Be the Change’ but to also see the world?
“The wealthiest place on Earth is a graveyard.”
That one always hits me in the gut. It means that in any cemetery lies the unfulfilled dreams of dozens or hundreds of persons, who never left their hometown, who never wrote that book, who had a dream but did not act.
Thank you for the spot, Amelia. Thoughtful questions. Enjoyed this interview!