Broke-Ass of the Week – Lonely Planet’s US Travel Editor Robert Reid
Every week we feature a different person from the community shedding a little light on their life of brokeitude. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about the human spirit'probably not.
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I first met Robert Reid at a Lonely Planet authors workshop back in 2005. He and I clicked because we were some of the last standing after a night out on the town with the rest of the authors. Most everyone else went to bed early but Robert, myself and a couple other people ended up closing down the bar. I think it might have been the old Bender’s before it burned down.
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Nowadays Robert is the US Travel Editor for Lonely Planet as well as one of their more celebrated authors. He’s also the cat behind the 76 Second Travel Show, and the dude seen here on the Today Show. Plus Robert was good enough to give me lots of tips for my NYC book when I first moved to Brooklyn. And let me tell you, the dude knows what he’s talking about. Peep his website or follow him on twitter to see what I mean. But for the time being, just read below.
Name: Robert Reid
Occupation: US Travel Editor, Lonely Planet
What neighborhood do you live in?: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn for the moment — but I’m heading to Jackson Heights, Queens babe.
Best money saving tip: A friend of mine once said, ‘Life is too hard to do your laundry. Drop it off.’ It’s a lousy way to save money, but I like the sentiment. So I save big in doses, waste less big in others. For me, eating out is a birth right. But breakfasts are way cheaper than dinners, which sucks up SO much money so quickly. And breakfasts are the best meal anyway. So eat out early, eat in later. And wear dirty clothes.
What do you refuse to spend money on?: Any more Rolling Stones music/products/tickets/membership club dues. I used to be a Stones freak and bought everything Stones. Everything. That horrible ‘Bridges to Babylon’? Yeah, I bought that the first day it was out. Mick, Keith: I’m not having any more.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: My apartment. I inherited a couple dozen acres of corn and soy bean in central Illinois several years ago. I thought about making a hostel there — right in the middle of the corn — or staging my own Farm Aid. Or farming. I ended up selling it, and that allowed my wife and I to put down a down payment on a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Wise decision.
How’d that feel?: Wonderful. Rental life is rather nihilistic, isn’t it? Those walls aren’t yours, no matter how many Gin Blossoms posters you put up. After a while, or at least once walls become yours, that starts to matter. You care more. And after 10 years in New York I only called it ‘home’ after I owned one here. Am I lame?
Favorite cheap eat: Despite the hilariously horrible service, I love getting the $1.50 bagels at Fairway grocery store in Brooklyn’s wayward Red Hook and sitting on the back lot tables with a full frontal view of the Statue of Liberty looking right at you. Best view in the city. Not the best bagel, but not bad.
Favorite dive bar: There’s a great bar in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where salty gray-haired blokes argue about jazz next to 20-something lesbian couples. Antique instruments are on the wall, the bartender doesn’t like you, and drops of rain land in your beer when it rains. I like that one.
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: My first car. A 1963 VW Bug with a huge sunroof for $800. Painted metallic brown. Nothing better has been made by human hands — well, except that pot Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze churned up in ‘Ghost.’
Favorite free thing to do: Last year, on a whim, I bought an old bike and did something I’d never done: rode up Manhattan’s west side. Turns out, it’s essential New York. The city’s here because of its river location, but we don’t even notice the Hudson for weeks. Going up the west side you see soccer fields you never noticed, that red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, people fishing with their feet dangling in the water. I loved it. Just steal a bike and go…
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: I’d fly to Bulgaria first class, have some $4 pizza with ketchup, buy a $350 Trabant, drive it to Gdansk and ship it to New York and drive across the USA with it in a coonskin cap on. Then I’d finally get around to buying some new pants. I wear the same green Wrangler jeans pretty much everyday.
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: My motto is, I don’t need a million dollars. I don’t need to win the lottery. I just need a little bit more. But, yes, I do love my life. My wife and I have a little whippersnapper now. Things have never been better.
Do you own my book?: Certainly do!
Best hangover cure: I gave up on hangovers a long time ago — no matter what, I seem to know when it’s too much, when to stop. That said, I go to Russia sometimes. That means once or twice weekly of way too much alcohol. One time I woke up after a night of vomitting in the hall of my Siberian guesthouse filled with construction workers and found hangover tablets in my pocket. Someone had put them there the night before. Always drink with people who carry spares.
Are you a hipster?: Let’s just say this. I moved to Brooklyn in 2002 sporting an Central American communist revolutionary beard. A rather 2005 gesture. I take pride in that, he said while packing for Queens.
photo from Titanic Awards