Before They Were Famous: Grant Martin
What I love most about editing Travelocity’s Before They Were Famous series, is learning each person’s unique path to travel stardom. For Gadling.com’s editor-in-chief, Grant Martin, electron microscopes and ion beams took a back seat to blogging and editing in 2007 as he discovered his passion was not for materials engineering, but for travel writing. Since then, Grant has published over 520,000 words in over 1,300 articles on Gadling.com and contributed to National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, USA Today, Business Traveler and Frommer’s. When he’s not working from his home base in Chicago, Illinois, you will find him jaunting off around the world in his favorite window seat — 6A on American Airlines 738-800. Here’s the #BTWF backstory on Grant Martin.
Name: Grant Martin
M y family moved to a small community north of Kalamazoo when I was in second grade, and that’s where I spent the balance of my pre-collegiate schooling. We lived on eleven acres in the woods and with few neighbors. It was a quiet upbringing, and I’m really thankful for it.
In high school…
I played tennis for a few years and also joined the Quiz Bowl team — our school was really small — but once I turned sixteen I gave most of that up for a job.
As I teenager I was…
You think I’m awkward now? Take that and multiply it by 10. Maybe 20. This was the 90s.
My earliest memory of being intrigued by travel was…
The first real trip I took overseas was between my junior and senior year in college. We bought cheap tickets to London and Paris, rode trains around Western Europe, visited friends on the Swiss border and drank too much with friends in London. I think that the planning for that trip set the real foundation for my life as a traveler. We bought tickets, looked up timetables, caught planes and read guidebooks all on our own, and that experience really defined our futures.
My worst job was…
Probably my first job in high school – washing dishes at a Bill Knapps. They briefly promoted me to line cook but I didn’t have a good grasp of the deep fryer so they moved me to busboy. I really hated that job.
What was your first apartment like?
All of my apartments tend to be fairly sparsely appointed, relying on the natural design to bring out the beauty. I call this minimalist, say, in case I need to pick up and disappear for five or six months. My parents call this incomplete. They keep showing up with more kitchen supplies.
If I were not a professional roamer, I’d be…
A pilot. Is that the same answer? I’d be an archaeologist. I have a minor in Classical Archaeology from the University of Michigan and I have fond memories of my work in the Kelsey and Anthropology museums.
What was the first blog post you ever wrote? How good was it?
My long-defunct personal travel blog collected and elaborated on deals in the travel industry. I believe that my first post was something about how tickets between Detroit and Las Vegas were on sale, and it was pretty decent for a casual writer. I’d give it a five.
The biggest thing I learned on the road is…
Traveling is a privilege. Whenever my flight is delayed, whenever an airport bus is crowded or there’s traffic on the road, I think back to that Louis CK bit: everything is amazing and nobody is happy. It’s great to be part of a society in which we can get from New York to Chicago in two hours. It’s great to meet people on the road and be exposed to strange wonderful things. There’s almost never really a reason to get too worked up.
Who pushed you to follow your dream of becoming a professional roamer?
Don George, our features editor is my mentor and hero. Willy Volk in the Huffington Post Media Group is my Zen master. It will take me years of apprenticeship to master their ways.
If I could nab one person and take them along on my adventures it would be…
Dead or alive? Can the person be fictional? I’m willing to bet that Genghis Khan had some pretty wild stories from traveling across the Asian continent. Herodotus in the Middle East. Charles Darwin for a leg on the HMS Beagle. I wouldn’t mind going on a whitewater rafting trip with John Hodgman or Ira Glass as well.