Cultural exploration. Limitless adventure. Joyful discovery. Those of you who love to travel, to go beyond your borders (yet, at the same time, go deeper into your own backyard), you are a true traveller and these words are a part of your language. And for true travellers, the need to feed your wanderlust is a part of who you are.
Taking in the sights, then going further–the history, the locals, the traditions, immersing yourself in the who, what, why and how of where you are, in the moment. A moment that will last a lifetime in your memories. The tastes, the smells, the sounds of where you are fuel the passion for discovery of a new destination, or a more meaningful rediscovery of a timeless favourite place, somewhere you’ll return again and again. We have a name for these travellers–we call them Avioners.
One of these Avioners is Mark McMorris, an RBC Olympian (he captured bronze at the 2018 Winter Games) and seven-time X-Game champion. “In my opinion, a traveller is much more about adventure than a tourist,” Mark says. “A tourist will go to the sights and sounds that are most popular and that most people would tell them to see. A traveller is someone who is going to try and find the unknown.”
We asked Mark to share with us how he feeds his need for travel through exploring and supporting the local community of a new destination, with a dose of foodie fun thrown in–and how you can, too.
Where do I start, if I’m heading somewhere totally new?
Mark McMorris: “If I’m going somewhere totally new, what I would do to have the best experience is to talk to the locals. Locals always point you in the right direction.” Stay among the locals. Avioners go local by renting a resident’s house or apartment via Airbnb or another homestay service, and exploring the neighbourhoods and cafés for a homegrown perspective, including the best places are to eat. “When I’m seeking out the best food I can find in a new place, I definitely try to ask the locals. All my best adventures start with a connection through friendships created with the locals. You have to start with the real interactions before you resort to the Internet.”
So, for you, food plays a huge role in experiencing new cultures and new places.
Mark McMorris: “I think one of the most fulfilling things when you travel to a new place is finding good food. One of my best food memories is from when I was in Davos, Switzerland, and I ate ostrich for the first time. They brought it out on this hot rock and you had to cook it yourself. I was actually surprised by how much I liked it, and it was fun to cook.”
For Mark, experiencing a new destination through its cuisine is also a major mood booster. “Certain food just makes you happy! My all-time favourite is Spaghetti Bolognese. Now when I travel, I always try and find the best Italian food… because who doesn’t love to eat Italian food?”
If it’s about authentic experiences, how can I take a bit of that home with me?
Mark McMorris:“Whenever I go to really cool villages around the world, especially in Europe, I always like to get an authentic little keepsake that I take back home with me.” In Aspen, McMorris discovered a local milliner, a hat maker who uses a unique technique to ensure quality and fit: it involves lighting the hat on fire! Shopping locally is another great way to get to know the culture. Night markets where you can hone your haggling skills, custom boot shops to get your cowboy on, arts and craftspeople who share their family’s time-honoured traditions and skills–when you travel like an Avioner, it’s almost unlimited what you can bring home with you