Here are the bios for Rob Sangster and Tim Leffel, co-authors of Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America.
To get in touch, see the e-mail addresses at the end. Both are happy to answer media questions on traveling well for less and having a more enriching experience in Latin America.
As I grew up in Boston, my parents often used nice weekends
to visit New England’s historic nooks and crannies, New
Hampshire’s apple orchards, and the
deep, cool woods of Maine. Later, living in Houston, the family
traveled from the eerie bayous of Louisiana to the bone-dry
canyons of Big Bend National Park in Texas. In other words,
travel, even of limited scope, was established as a value in
After attending Stanford Law School and practicing corporate
law for a few years, I decided that wasn’t how I wanted
to spend my life. I switched to the public sector in finance
and housing policy in Washington, D.C. Then I returned to the
private sector as a developer of housing for low-income people
and, on the side, owned a natural-foods restaurant and an importing
company, and started a foundation that donates equipment for
disinfecting contaminated water in less developed countries.
Fairly early on, I had an opportunity to join a group running
277 miles of Colorado River whitewater in the Grand Canyon in
14-foot wooden dories. The three-week trip came at a time when
I thought I was too busy to get away. Wrestling my left brain
to the ground, I went anyway. The length of the trip gave me
enough time to separate myself from home and business and to
synchronize completely with where I was. That taught me how
important it is to be on the road long enough at a stretch for
a magic “click” to occur in my psyche. Returning
to find my business running smoothly, I gave up the fantasy
of being indispensable. That first glimpse of the potential
rewards of travel was a turning point.
Living fully is infinitely more important to me than earning
the last dollar. Besides, learning about people and experiencing
the physical majesty of our planet are better than money in
the bank. I think of the priest who reportedly said, “In
all my years, I’ve never once heard a man on his deathbed
declare, ‘My only regret is that I didn’t spend
more time in the office.’ ” I’ll never say
that either. I’ve traveled in more than 100 countries,
including Mexico and Central American countries, Australia,
New Zealand, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, India, various other Asian
countries, about half of the countries in Africa and South America,
a fair number of the Pacific Islands, most of Western and Eastern
Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Antarctic continent.
I’ve visited favorite places more than once. India, New
Zealand, Chile, Botswana, Peru, Namibia, and Guatemala are at
the top of that list. I now live, write, and sail for six months
of each year on the coast of Nova Scotia.
My first book, Traveler’s Tool Kit: How to Travel Absolutely
Anywhere was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and is now in
its third edition. I’ve written a weekly newspaper column,
“On the Road Again,” and for two years wrote and
delivered weekly travel-related essays on public radio. I write
regularly for various national publications, contributing frequent
feature articles to International Travel News, and am Contributing
Editor for Transitions Abroad. I was International Travel Expert
for, and published more than 50 articles on, Gorp.com, a major
travel site. I’ve written for or been quoted in the Los
Angeles Times, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Responsible Travel
Handbook, and Insideout Magazine, and at Journeywoman.com, Planeta.com,
and EscapeArtist.com, among others. My first novel, a legal–political
thriller, is in final revision.
I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in an area filled with family farms, national forests, and Mennonites riding horse-drawn buggies along the back roads. I am the son of two teachers, so all my early travels were languid U.S. road trips in the summer-camping, swimming in lakes, and visiting relatives between New York State and Texas.
My foreign travel didn't begin in earnest until I was well out of college and running hard on a work treadmill as a marketing executive at RCA Records, first in Nashville and then in New York City. When my now-wife and I both lost our jobs within a six-month period, we took it as a fateful sign and set off to see the world. One trip circling the globe turned into two, then into three. Our friends and relatives thought we'd gone off the deep end, but we came back fine, eventually. Along the way, we taught English in Istanbul and Seoul-living in the latter for 14 months.
I started to get travel features published in magazines on a regular basis and began reviewing hotels around the world for a travel trade publication. I've since written for more than 50 publications spanning the high end (Robb Report) and the low end (Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel). Like Rob, I am a regular columnist for Transitions Abroad.
I've dispatched articles from five continents and have published two other travel books: The World's Cheapest Destinations: 21 Countries Where Your Money Is Worth a Fortune (now in its second edition) and Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less. I also edit the award-winning online travel magazine Perceptive Travel and rant on an almost daily basis on the Cheapest Destinations blog. I also write about stuff you need to pack for the Practical Travel Gear blog.
I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife and daughter and have a small beach house on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in the Yucatan (so my daughter is a lucky girl who got her first passport at age 3). Many of my travels are now to Latin America, where I am slowly but surely improving my Spanish.
Rob Sangster can be reached at rob [ at] sangster.com
See Tim Leffel's contact info here.