Interview with Dave Fox
|Dave Fox is passionate about leading tours, humorous travel writing, and teaching how to write travel journals.|
Dave Fox leads our tours to Scandinavia. When he's not gallivanting in Europe, he works as a freelance writer. Dave also teaches writing classes around the Seattle area.
How long have you worked for Rick Steves?
I started working for Rick in 1995. I had just moved back to the States from Ankara, Turkey, where I had been teaching English. I had lived in Norway and England on other occasions, and I had reached a point where the thrill of being foreign was almost an addiction. Once you've lived in foreign cultures, they become part of who you are, and you develop what I call "cultural schizophrenia" — a personality split between your different homes and cultures. Guiding tours for Rick has been the perfect remedy because it lets me keep in touch with both the American and European sides of who I am.
What do you do when you're not guiding tours?
I left my position as the ricksteves.com website editor a couple of years ago to work as a freelance humor and travel writer and public speaker. My first book, "Getting Lost: Mishaps of an Accidental Nomad" is a collection of humor essays about things that have gone wrong in my foreign travels, starting with my year as a British schoolboy, and leading up to my current experiences as a tour guide. I also manage two websites, davethefox.com, which highlights my humor and travel writing, and traveljournaling.com, which helps people write more vivid travel journals.
Why is travel journaling so important to you?
Foreign travel is more than just visiting new places. It's a journey of self-discovery as well. We can learn so much about ourselves when we step outside our cultural comfort zones. To me, a well-kept travel journal is the ultimate souvenir. It helps us connect with the things we learn away from home, and it keeps our travel memories alive in ways photography can't. A lot of people struggle with their journals though. They either can't find time to write when they're off having adventures, or what they do write feels flat to them. The techniques I teach on my website and in my classes help people overcome these challenges.
How did you get interested in Scandinavia?
I grew up with a lot of Norwegian traditions at home, but my real fascination with Nordic Europe started when I was a high school foreign exchange student in a little fjordside village called Drøbak. I lived with a Norwegian family for a year, attended regular high school classes, and returned to the US obsessed with all things Norwegian. I moved back to Norway four years later to study linguistics at the University of Oslo. Norway today is like a second home for me, and the host family I lived with in 1986-87 are like real family to me now.
What is you favorite part of the Scandinavia tour?
The diversity. Americans tend to think of Scandinavia as one big icy lump on the northern fringes of Europe. It's a much more diverse region than a lot of people realize, and it's exciting for me to show people the unique aspects of each country. I also find the history fascinating. Up until the Viking period, Scandinavia had a very different historical development from the rest of Europe — and still, today, as they remain on the fringes of the European Union, the Nordic countries are still asserting their uniqueness. On top of all of that, the scenery in Norway's western fjords is truly stunning. There's nothing like riding a boat through crystal clear waters, flanked on either side by swooping cliffs and stoic farms. I get goose bumps every time I go through the fjords.
Why should people considering taking a Rick Steves tour choose Scandinavia?
I honestly think Scandinavia is the most underrated tourist destination in Western Europe. In addition to a unique and fascinating history, and breathtaking beauty, these are very easy countries to travel in. The people are friendly to foreigners, and practically everybody speaks English. In the summer months, crowds tend to be smaller than they are in central and southern Europe, temperatures are generally comfortable, and, due to the northern latitude, it never gets completely dark outside in the weeks around the summer solstice.