Interview with Michael Brein

You call yourself "The Travel Psychologist." So, what is travel psychology anyway?
Travel psychology is the study and application of knowledge about the human mind and behavior specific to the activity of traveling. Culture shock, for example, is an issue that people struggle with when coming to terms with the typical psychological unknowns that they must understand when immersing themselves in a foreign country for a longer period of time.
What is so important bout it, then?
Travel is one of life's major activities engaged in by millions of people who go between different cultures for business, education, service, or pleasure. For example, while we feel relatively safe and secure in our comfort zones at home, we are largely unconscious of much that goes on around us in a completely new culture..
So, what's the big deal?
Like all human activity, travel can impact our lives in good and wonderful as well as bad and horrible ways. Travel psychology can help us maximize the good and minimize the bad in travel. Sometimes, being more conscious or aware of our surroundings can be a life-saver.
Why are you called "The Travel Psychologist?
I've made the psychology of travel my life-long specialty to help others improve the quality of their travel-lives. For example, by studying the experiences of nearly 1,600 world travelers over three decades, I have learned what helps and what hinders in coping with our intercultural experiences overseas.
What makes you qualified to do this?
I earned a Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Hawaii with a concentration in a variety of subjects having to do with many aspects of the intercultural travel experience. I also worked in tourism and even worked as a psychologist for the Peace Corps.
Subjects such as?
Intercultural communication, national character, culture shock, nonverbal communication, adjustment of the sojourner, and many more travel-related topics.
What other life experiences contribute to your expertise?
I have done extensive world travel, interviewing hundreds of people while on the road, spent considerable time in other countries, am widely read, speak a number of languages, and have spoken with some of the widest-traveled and most travel-savvy people in the world about the psychological aspects of traveling. I don't just have academic experience; I've been down in the dirt with people all over the world!
What do you do as a travel psychologist?
I mainly write these days. But I am available to speak and consult on the subject of travel psychology. I help prepare, for example, US business people who are being transferred to a country with a very different culture and language, such as Guatemala. And I helped train Peace Corps volunteers for their overseas stints in the Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga.
Why read other people's travel stories?
People who have experienced both the good and bad of travel have much valuable information to share with others. For instance, how they maximize the good and minimize the bad of travel can have a tremendous impact on our own travel experiences. And, let's face it: reading travel tales is simply fun! You wouldn't believe the incredible stories people have told me about their travels!

My interviews with hundreds of people who have survived pickpocketing, muggings, and harassments of all kinds have resulted in all sorts of invaluable travel-life lessons that can be passed on to others. Hassles with soldiers, police, border officials, and sexual harassment of women traveling alone are just a few of the difficult and possibly life-threatening situations that all travelers may potentially face. There is valuable wisdom in learning how others deal with these confrontations.
So, why would I want to learn about the psychology of travel?
If I can help you to avoid or reduce the anxieties, fears, and dangers involved in some kinds of world travel, well, this is a good thing, isn't it? And if I can show you how to get into some good things while traveling, won't this impact your travel-life as well?
Traveling can be very scary and intimidating, can't it?
You betcha! Leaving the comfort, safety, and security of your home environment for the unknown can be VERY threatening. Anything that helps with this is very useful.
Can you give me an example of this?
For example, if I can summarize for you how more than 100 people have dealt with being pickpocketed, you can certainly learn and apply some very valuable lessons.

Truth be told, travel can sometimes by dangerous. Most often you are perfectly safe and secure when you travel. But sometimes, disaster lurks right around the corner. Isn't it a good thing to be somewhat better prepared for negative eventualities?
Can't I just figure things out for myself when traveling?
Of course you can--and this is one of the great challenges of travel. But sometimes, some very bad things can happen to you, seemingly at warp speed! You only have so much time and personal resources to help you cope at any given moment. Like all knowledge, learning and thinking about such things in advance can often be a life-saver!
How can I learn more about the psychology of travel, then?
For one, you can read any of my books that make up "The Travel Psychologist Travel Tales Series." Each book in the series focuses on one of more than 100 different psychologically oriented travel themes (as well as countries). Each book presents about a dozen travel tales around a particular subject or theme and is jam-packed with the psychology behind what happened, what the traveler did, and what the impact and outcome was about the particular travel event covered. The travel stories and commentary are informative, entertaining, unacademic, and often just pure fun! But in some instances, the travel tales can have life-saving implications.
Published 2013-10-18.
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Books by This Author

Travel Tales of Michael Brein: My Best 100
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 143,330. Language: English. Published: April 17, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Psychology » Interpersonal relations
The best 100 personal travel tales of travel-adventurer, Dr Michael Brein, the world's first and only travel psychologist. Through harrowing close calls and hilarious mis-adventures in some of the world's most exotic cultures, Michael Brein examines the in-depth psychological netherworld behind travel. No one has written a travel book heretofore about the psychology of travel quite like this one.
Travel Tales of Michael Brein: My Top 10
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 22,090. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Psychology » Interpersonal relations
Michael Brein, the world’s first and only travel psychologist, introduces his Travel Psychologist Travel Tales Series with the best of his own personal travel tales. Going behind some of his most harrowing, zany, funny, and unbelievable travel stories, Michael explores, like no one else, the elusive psychological netherworld of his advenures into some of the world's most exotic cultures.