Expensive air fares for cramped planes, irritating baggage fees and exhaustively long security lines – traveling isn’t what it used to be in that bygone era when boarding a plane for exotic destinations held the imagination. But world traveler and writer Henry Biernacki says travel doesn’t have to be a trauma – it just depends on how you approach the journey.
For Biernacki, a luxury airline captain who has explored the world on meager means and reaped a lifetime of experience, it truly is about the journey as much as the destination. Biernacki is the author of the recently released novel No More Heroes (www.theglobalhenry.com), which explores the inner journey of a young man who finds deeper joy in life, spiritual growth and love as he crosses borders.
“Travel allows people to live with intensity, follow their interests and enjoy the fleeting moments of each passing day spent with people they care about,” says Biernacki. “People are genuinely attracted to unknown parts and far off countries. Who cares about being lost? That is where you find the best experiences.”
Biernacki has been traveling with his rucksack since he was 17 and boarded a Greyhound bus for a journey from Colorado to Mexico. In 1997, he traveled around the world, sleeping in the streets and living amongst the humblest people, spending a scant $3,700 to circle the globe. On that journey, though, he experienced one of the most significant moments of his life: meeting Mother Teresa just three days before her death.
He has traveled to 120 countries, including such difficult locales as North Korea, never staying in anything more luxurious than a guest house and carrying only a small rucksack and a few plastic zipper bags as luggage.
Surprisingly, it is Biernacki’s profession that gives him such an unusual perspective on travel: He’s an airline captain for Virgin America Airlines, an airline most travelers associate with the height of luxury.
His novel explores the inner journey of Niklas, a man searching for deeper meaning in his life when a series of unexpected friendships sends him to an exotic and difficult destination. The novel has been praised for its rich detail and sensitive exploration of the innately human need to connect with others, no matter where they happen to be.
“Traveling makes people adapt to new situations and open their minds to new cultures and people in a way that can’t be achieved by staying with what is familiar,” Biernacki said. “It is because it’s uncomfortable, unusual and there are strange sights and new foods you’ve never seen before that it opens up your mind and your soul to others.”
So with holiday travel, vacation or business, Biernacki advises travelers to enjoy the unexpected. Doing that allows them to enjoy the journey and the destination equally.
About Henry Biernacki
Henry Biernacki has traveled to more than 120 countries and continues to travel as a pilot for Virgin American Airlines. A four-sport letterman in high school and a two-sport letterman in college, Biernacki holds a Bachelor of Arts in romance languages and international affairs. He lived in France, Germany, Taiwan, the West Indies and Mexico before settling in his current home in San Jose, California.