Interview with Rudy Maxa

by Marquis' "Who's Who in America"

Rudy Maxa
Host, "Rudy Maxa's World" on public television

      "There's rarely a bad reason to travel. Travel broadens horizons, promotes international understanding, and may even make you smarter and more interesting. But don't be afraid to take the wrong fork in the road -- there's wonder in not knowing what's around the next corner."

      Rudy Maxa is host of "Rudy Maxa's World," an Emmy-award-winning, public television travel series. He is also a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler and the voice of National Geographic's "Walks of a Lifetime" podcasts which guide travelers visiting the world's great destinations.

      How did you become a travel expert?

      About 16 years ago, while I was working as an investigative reporter and gossip columnist in Washington, D.C., I was approached by the people at public radio's "Marketplace" and asked if I wanted to do a political commentary. I proposed doing a consumer travel commentary instead as I had traveled a great deal and knew a lot about it. That was the start of "The Savvy Traveler." Eventually, print publications began asking me to write articles on travel topics and then I moved into travel on public TV. Since then, I have created "Rudy Maxa's World," a public television travel series.

      Weren't you one of the Internet travel pioneers?

      While I was actually a late-comer to computers (I used an IBM Displaywriter for a long time before changing over to computers), I got a call from an agency representing AOL asking me to write a weekly column on hot travel topics, answer AOL subscribers' questions about travel, and host auditorium events -- which I knew nothing about at the time. I wound up doing it for a year and a half, and that became my introduction to the online world.

      How often do you travel every year?

      It really varies from year to year, depending on whether we're shooting -- that takes me overseas a quarter of the year alone. I'd say with shoots, speeches, and magazine assignments, I'm out of town about 40 percent of the year on average.

      How do you select your destinations?

      I choose destinations depending on where I want to go and where I think other travelers want to go. For "Rudy Maxa's World," we've gone to India, Argentina, Japan, Thailand, Estonia, and other wonderful places.

      Do you have a favorite country?

      Thailand ranks right up there for me. Sometimes you discover your favorite place later in life and it can be very surprising. I spent several years of my childhood living in Europe but didn't get to Asia until I was 34. I think because I discovered it later in life, I fell in love with Asia and Thailand in particular. I love the food, the people, the topography -- the beaches of the south, the lushness of the north, and I even love the bustle of Bangkok.

      I'm also crazy about New Zealand. I've been there twice and can't get enough of it. It's a spacious country with friendly locals, great wines at great prices, and a sense of greenness and freshness that's difficult to find these days.

      What is the most incredible hotel you've ever stayed at?

      Without question, the Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc in Cap D'Antibes, France. If you open up F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, this is the white villa in the South of France that begins the novel. The setting is impeccable, overlooking the Mediterranean. You can sit there in a private cabana and play backgammon. It's a magnet for celebrities too. The first time I walked into the lobby, I saw only two people, and they were Johnny Carson and Bill Cosby. Later that day, I encountered artist Marc Chagall walking from the hotel's reception building down to the sea.

      What are three travel experiences a person must have in his/her lifetime?

      Everyone should have an Asian experience, whether it's visiting Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Tokyo. They should also take a safari in Tanzania, Kenya, or South Africa. I think they should also have an ancient world or Middle East experience by visiting either Petra (the archaeological site in Jordan), which is a pretty magical place, or the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt.

      Do you have any tips you could share about using the Internet to plan trips?

      I always start my travel research by looking at a third-party travel website such as Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity. That way, I can get an idea of airfares and schedules. I find that for car rentals and hotel rooms, I can save between 25-40 percent by bidding at or I look for deals. About half the year each year, Enterprise offers rental cars from their neighborhood locations for 50 percent off, for example. You have to keep scouring the Web.

      For general information about a destination, I check out the national tourism websites. For example, if I'm going to Greece, I'll go to the Greek National Tourism Organization's site.

      Could you share a travel moment you've had?

      Absolutely. I was on the Star Ferry in the Victoria Harbour, crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. I looked up and saw skyscrapers etched against the sky that were illuminated by a full moon perched just above Victoria Peak. I remember thinking, "Hello! I am going to start spending more time in this part of the world."

      Is there a place that you haven't been to that you'd like to visit?

      I still haven't been to Vietnam, but hope to do a couple of shows there soon. I also want to visit the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iran, and Bhutan... the world is a big place!

* See More of Rudy's Travel Favorites.

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