Traveler Series: Nick

This introduction is one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever had to write because I know Nick so well, and he’s very dear to my heart. I’ve never travelled with Nick but I have shared countless beers, in all kinds of crappy bars. I imagine in his travels he is pretty similar to his daily life. He’s always down for new adventures, enjoys eating quality food and questionable food, he never rejects that last shot of whiskey. He’s aware travel changes a person and goes with it. He never misses an opportunity to find something to write about, for there’s always a story that needs to be told. And more importantly, he is always there to provide his friends with alcohol when they need it the most. And he will always support making bad decisions, in fact, he will make some bad decisions with you. Read about his amazing travel stories.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself, hobbies, favorite movie, song, food, etc.

My name is Nicholas (Nick) Enquist and I am currently a Chicago based comedian and writer. I studied creative writing and journalism at DePaul University, and then decided to go back to get my Masters of Arts in Writing and Publishing. What I usually like to write is travel/non fiction essays. I try to write fiction and poetry, but I’m not great at it. But, my favorite genre will always be writing sketch comedy; I studied at the world famous Second City and have written, produced, and even performed in my own shows. I’ve also had a brief career as a stand up comedian, but the less we talk about that the better.

In terms of hobbies, besides being obsessed with comedy, I am a huge comic book superhero nerd. I have quite a collection of comics and graphic novels. I even write opinion pieces and reviews about comics and superhero movies on the website monkeysfightingrobots.com. I’m an idiot when it comes to music, so I’ll replace that query with “Who’s your favorite superhero?” The answer is Green Lantern. My favorite food are burgers, but I have grown to like many different things. Curry is definitely a close second. My favorite movie is In Bruges, and because of that film I want to go to the city, which is in Belgium.

Who is your favorite travel companion?

My mom and dad are fantastic travel companions. My dad has been around the world so many times that he’s become very knowledgeable about so many different countries; where to go, what to do, and he usually knows a few people who live there. My mom is the ultimate planner, she has contingencies for every possible outcome we may face when traveling together. She also learns about all the cool things to do, and how best to do them where we go.

But, outside of my parents, my cousin Chris is also a great travel companion. He has a laid back approach to our destinations, and that leads him to be adventurous and fun. My friend Alex is also great for researching, and learning about our trips. And my girlfriend Darcy is up for anything.

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What was the trip that changed it all for you and made you decide to travel?

It’s funny, but when I was younger I hated traveling. It always seemed like such a hassle. I was definitely the ultimate homebody. But, since my dad traveled for work all the time, he would plan these extravagant trips. So, at a young age, I had the privilege of going to Mexico, France, Germany, Greece, Puerto Rico, China, Sweden, Norway, and all over the country. And while each trip had memories and moments that I reflect on that were positive, I was kind of a pain in the ass during those trips. I was very stubborn and complaining all the time (of course now I look back and think about what a brat I was), but none of the trips really hit me on an emotional level.

That was until I went to Japan. Specifically when I was walking through the Ginza district, which is essentially Tokyo’s Time Square. This is an area that millions of people walk through every day, and yet there I was. A complete stranger halfway around the world completely surrounded by a different language, different food, and different mannerisms. In that moment I realized that I was very privileged to be able to witness and experience this and all the other trips I went on. So, after that I became much more excited about traveling, and have since gone to more countries, and cities with a more adventurous attitude.

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What is your favorite travel quote?

“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God,” Kurt Vonnegut.

What do you collect from places you travel to?

I don’t really collect things. I’ll occasionally snag up little knick-knack, or an object, but nothing too exciting or specific. Although I did bring back bottles of whiskey from Ireland and Scotland. Maybe I’ll do that from now on. I also, try to take pictures, but I’m not very good at them.

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I’m sure lots of young people like to know, how do you afford to travel?

Well, that is always a tricky question. Sometimes it boils down to saving up money and finding the right deals. There are a lot of great apps to help with budgeting, and to get the best deals on plane tickets and hotels. In fact if your traveling to a different city in America, I almost always recommend a package deal over buying the flight, and hotel separately. It’s usually more affordable that way. Or you can beg to tag along on your parent’s trip like I do every once in a while.

What’s the one item that you must bring on every trip?

Usually a notebook. I don’t really write on my trips, but sometimes I like to jot down ideas and funny interactions I had. But, I also bring books I’m reading or have been meaning to read. Planes usually give me the best opportunity to get caught up on them.

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Do you have any weird travel traditions?

On my first day of wherever I go, I always have to go to a bar that’s not really on the beaten path and have a beer that’s specific to that location. Other than that, I have to study the plane’s exits and safety manuals over and over. Hopefully nothing happens, but you know, just to be safe.

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Have you considered doing any extreme traveling, such as mountain climbing?

Nothing to that extreme, but in Norway I did a kayaking tour. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it was fun to see the fjords in that context. It was also cold as all hell, but it was beautiful. I also did Zip Lining in Hawaii, which was intimidating, but not as extreme as I think it could have been. One of my dream trips is to go on an adventure vacation in Costa Rica. Maybe one day that will happen. Or maybe I’ll get there, and chicken out, but I won’t know until I do.

What your favorite movies to watch on the plane?

Bad action movies, and documentaries about the place I’m going to. But, mainly the bad action movies. I’m always uncomfortable on planes, so I get a little bit of joy watching a Steven Segal flick. Plus it’s fun for the people sitting next to me to lean over as I’m watching it.

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What has been your favorite place so far, and why?

That’s a tough one. Dublin, and Edinburgh were both beautiful, fun cities to explore and enjoy. I certainly have the craziest stories, and most interesting interactions from there. But, Kyoto, and Tokyo were just wonderful places to be, even for a little bit. And despite how gross it might be, Vegas is definitely a lot of fun. Not for everyone, but a lot of fun. The truth is I don’t really have a favorite, even on the most frustrating trips there was something great to look back on. That’s the beautiful thing about traveling, chances are it’s not going to be perfect, or easy. The best trips never are.

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What’s next on your travel plans?

Unfortunately, I do not know. Hopefully I will be heading somewhere new and exciting, or somewhere familiar. Ideally I’d like to go back to Japan, but I also want to go to Spain, Costa Rica, Iceland, Thailand, Australia, and South Korea. Although, the trip I seem to be putting the most thought into is a road trip down Route 66.

Has anything unexpected ever happened that made you re-consider your love for traveling or strengthened it more?

There are always days that are frustrating, exhausting, and even a little scary when it comes to traveling. But, if traveling were easy we probably wouldn’t love it so much. Traveling allows us to be bold, and adventurous. To go back to those ancestral explorer roots we all have, and it’s never not difficult. It’s always unexpected and yes frustrating, especially if something goes wrong. But, how we adapt is a sign of our strength. Traveling toughens us up, expands our horizons, gives us great stories to tell, and connects us. So go out, and find that adventure. If nothing goes wrong, it wasn’t an adventure.

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