Who wrote this thing?

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.

Rob Sangster

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 my mind.

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.

Tim Leffel

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.