Doug Lansky
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Doug Lansky

Band Comedy


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The best kept secret in music


"Say what? Don’t be so quick to malign signs that barely resemble English. Anyone trying another tongue can sound silly. At least some bother"

When you visit a new country, you're not allowed to vote. You can't cash a personal check. Your library card isn't valid. Yet they let you drive. They let you get behind the wheel of a multiton vehicle and zip around anywhere you please.
Somehow we're expected to navigate the road and pick up the traffic nuances - perhaps even adjust to a steering wheel on the opposite side of the car while driving on the opposite side of the road - all before we make our first lane-change. If that isn't demanding enough, there are the signs to contend with.
Not just the roadside traffic symbols that look more confusing than psych-test ink blots. There are also signs that look woefully out of place. And then there's the occasional screwball posting that almost stops us in our tracks - if we could just find the brake pedal fast enough in that rental car.
Fortunately, a few daring drivers have been able to find a place to pull over, get out, and snap a picture.
If you're wondering how so many of these preposterous public postings came about, here's one partial explanation: There are 406 million native English speakers in the world. This may sound like a lot, but the figure represents less than 10 percent of the world's population.
Yet, thanks to American, Canadian, Australian, British, Irish, and New Zealand linguistic stubbornness (or cerebral shortcomings) and an appetite for travel, the world has - without any formal treaty or prolonged UN debate - adopted English as the almost-official tourist language. An estimated 350 million to one billion people now speak English as a second language, which means that, as an Anglophone, you can be understood (or misunderstood) by as much as a quarter of the people on Earth.
Mastering proper English, even for the most educated Anglo, is no easy task. So, it comes as little surprise that nonnative English speakers who aren't as tuned in to the subtleties of English get things delightfully twisted despite their best efforts to cater to us by putting up signs.
Before laughing, consider for a moment who among us would have the courage to put up a sign in a foreign language? Just imagine the hilarity if we tried to cover our English-speaking lands with signs for Russian, Turkish, or Chinese tourists. We'd walk around completely unaware of gaffes that would have these travelers rolling with laughter.
Do you think all of us would take the time to check spellings, grammar, and possible double entendres in even a small percentage of the world's roughly 6,800 known languages (about 2,200 of which have writing systems)?
As it is, we snicker at multinational corporations when their marketing campaigns fail overseas. Take Pepsi's slogan, "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation," which was launched in Taiwan and directly translated as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead." Or the KFC slogan "Finger-Lickin' Good!", translated into Chinese as "Eat Your Fingers Off!"
So when you're laughing at the signs pictured here, laugh with a warm heart for the sign-makers. In any other language, they could have been you.
- Philadelphia Inquirer - Doug Lansky

"Doug Lansky at the Univeristy of New England"

As a tiny university in New England, who can normally rally just a handful of students for events on campus, Doug Lansky’s “60 Minute World Travel Survival Course” garnered our biggest audience ever, jam-packing our largest lecture hall. But it wasn’t just the sheer numbers of show-goers that impressed us, it was Doug’s uncanny ability to connect with the audience – at one minute instigating genuine laughter, and at the next inspiring the students to seek out unique travel adventures on their own. Although it was late, and he surely had to be the feeling effects of his flight from Stockholm, Doug graciously remained after the show to sign books and answer questions; students lined up to take advantage of this rare opportunity for one-on-one time.

Apart from Doug’s magnetic performance, our office was able to raise the profile of internationalism on campus through creative, professional and stand out advertising provided to our office through Doug’s agency. Both Doug and his counterparts at Keppler Speakers were truly a pleasure to work with and we look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with them again.

Trisha A. Mason
Director, International Programs
- Reference

"It’s a nomad-mad-mad-mad ‘World’"

Pack your backpack, follow this writer’s lead for an ultimate globe-trotting adventure. Four days after his graduation from college in 1992, Doug Lansky turned down his dream job, an entry position at The New Yorker, and took off to live
his dream. All told, the 32-year-old has spent about nine years seeing the world, working intermittently and writing syndicated dispatches for U.S. newspapers about his adventures abroad. Now married and the father of a 2-year-old, he lives in Stockholm and is the author of a just-published primer for would-be global nomads, First-Time round the World: A Trip Planner for the
Ultimate Journey (Rough Guides, $14.95). Here, Lansky talks to USA TODAY’s Jayne Clark about the art of the extended journey.
Q: What was your thinking when you began your sojourn?
A: I had only a vague plan. I went to Miami with the idea of hitchhiking to South America on yachts. I failed miserably. It was hurricane season. So I flew to the Virgin Islands and found a job on a luxury charter yacht with a young crew looking for a good time or paying customers, whichever came first. Finally, a guy told me, “You need to use your
mind. Go to Spanish school in Antigua (Guatemala).” Seemed like good advice.
So I went the next day, though I didn’t even have a guidebook.
Q: You sound pretty impulsive.
A: That’s part of the beauty of travel. You just sort of go with the wind. With a too carefully planned itinerary, it’s like ordering off the menu. You already know the result you’re after.
Q: I guess serendipity is one of the luxuries of long-term travel. But this
sort of travel isn’t for everyone, even those with time to spare, is it?
A: Travel is an itch that’s best cultivated from within. What we don’t have in the States is a culture of travel. In the United Kingdom, they have a “gap year.” In Australia, everyone goes “walkabout” for a period. In Israel, after doing army service, they leave. But because we don’t have this culture, the Americans you meet on long trips tend to be a pretty cool group because
they’re the ones willing to take a chance and go for it. People in other
countries are more likely to be pressured into it.
Q: What keeps Americans off the
international nomad circuit?
A: The pressure to pay back student loans, for starters. Also, Americans are, more than other nationalities, denied by their jobs. People are anxious to start down the career path. And again, it’s not in our culture. If you don’t know anyone who’s done it, it’s a more frightening prospect.
Q: Your book is aimed at young budget travelers. But people of all
ages are doing this, aren’t they?
A: Yes. It’s easier to cope with a tighter budget when you’re younger because you might be staying in a hotel where the bed is sagging and the only art is the urine stain on the mattress. But in midlife or retirement, you probably
have more money and can often, for under $50 and sometimes under
$30, stay in comfortable digs. There are people out there in all these categories.
I met an 80-year-old American with a hip replacement on a bus in Bolivia and she was having a great time.
Q: Speaking of buses, you’ve moved around the world via a range
of idiosyncratic transport.
A: Yes. Feluccas (a traditional wooden sailboat) on the Nile in northern Africa.
Motor and bike rickshaws in India. Tuk-tuks in Thailand — sort of a golf cart
meets a motorcycle. And in South and Central America, lots of overland buses
with Jesus .gurines on the dashboards. P.J. O’Rourke called them the Latin American emergency brake. Or maybe that was the horn, which also serves as the turn signal and the air bag.
Q: And using the local means of transport enhances the experience,
even when it’s uncomfortable or terrifying?
A: It does. Tourists don’t take the bus in developing countries. Hop on one and suddenly you’re in with locals. And on longer trips, it provides a unique opportunity for conversation and, sometimes, forging friendships.
Q: Now that you’re a husband and father, are your travels behind you?
A: No, but it does complicate things when my daughter comes along. Between the extra gear involved and calculating naps with time zones, it feels more like planning a NATO military maneuver. However, as soon as she’s big enough to carry her own pack, I’m sure we’ll be back on the road.

- USA Today


Anyone who travels a lot knows the importance of signs. At the very least, they help get you where you're going. And at times they even help you discover new thrills. But they also can be downright bizarre. The editors of Lonely Planet tapped a network of sign spotters around the globe to find some of the most ridiculous examples and collected them in a new book, Signspotting: Absurd & Amusing Signs from Around the World, compiled by Doug Lansky. - USA Today

"Doug Lansky Reference"

I would like to thank you for your recent speaking engagement here at the University of Minnesota. We enjoyed a much larger crowd than anticipated. Many students from our outdoor program, residential halls, and international clubs were in attendance. We've been trying to offer more unique programs on campus, due to student's daily routines, busy schedules, and the range of entertainment offered around the city. This program fit the mix we were looking for, and everything worked out perfectly.

Your presentation was very upbeat, humorous, educational, and well focused on college-age students. You included some great information on travel safety, packing light, what to pack/not to pack, how to extend your budget, lodging, eating, and the hilarious slide show that brought this all to life. It was a great, laid back evening for all.

I have received a lot of positive feedback from the students. Many students are thinking of traveling abroad this year, and wanted some extra helpful hints. The personal Doug Lansky "packing list" was a hit. - University of Minnesota




Feeling a bit camera shy


Doug Lansky is one of America’s foremost experts on budget travel. After nine years on the road, over 100 countries, five filled passports, four foreign languages, hundreds of the world’s great adventures under his belt, countless nights on trains, buses, ferries, hostel rooftops, one broken ankle in Thailand, and more bouts of dysentery than he would care to remember, Doug has a bounty of travel insights.

Using entertaining anecdotes and over 700 full-screen color images from around the planet, Doug will bring the audience along for a one-hour global journey, and impart valuable advice along the way.

Learn how to find jobs and volunteer projects around the world.
Find out how to avoid the dangerous, costly, and just plain embarrassing traps that ensnare most travelers.
Save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your trip. Doug has budget tips that range from booking your ticket to catching cheap rides on private yachts to avoiding the toilet fee in European train stations.
Discover how to get off the tourist trail and find your own adventure. Doug encourages travelers to pursue their own interests (not the guide book's), and shows them how.
Win a FREE Eurail pass. Doug gives away a train pass at each of his presentations to an audience member.

Traveling is many things, but it’s not rocket science—with a few good tricks and a glimpse of life on the trail, you’ll be off to a head start.

Doug, originally from Minnesota, has written a weekly Chicago Tribune-syndicated column for five years that has reached 10 million readers in over 40 newspapers, penned several books, including, Last Trout in Venice, Up the Amazon without a Paddle, and Rough Guide to Traveling Around the World. Doug has edited an award-winning travel-humor anthology, contributed monthly to Public Radio’s flagship travel program, Savvy Traveler and hosted an hour-long travel documentary for the Travel Channel/Discovery Channel and taught journalism at Colorado College. His travels have left him living in Colorado, New York, France, Spain, Holland, Norway, and Sweden—where he currently makes his base camp in Stockholm with his Swedish wife Signe, and their new baby, Sienna.

Speech Topic:
>National Geographic's Travel Adventure Show with Doug Lansky