Rudy Maxa suggests taking the road less planned for

Eiffel Tower
People sunbathe on lawns near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on August 1, 2013.

For someone who plans trips for a living, Rudy Maxa shows an unlikely love of plans that go awry.

"What you remember are trips where things go wrong," he said Wednesday on The Daily Circuit. "You're sitting next to somebody at a dinner party, and they say, 'I just went to Paris! I just love Paris!' You go, yeah, OK, everybody loves Paris, I've heard this a hundred times. So anyway, 'I went to Paris, and I put regular fuel in the diesel engine, and we got stranded in this town, it was right in Champagne. So we had dinner in Champagne. You know, they serve champagne with every course.' That's where the stories come from. That's more interesting."

He's not just making that example up.

"I put regular fuel in a diesel in the hills of Italy once," he admitted. "Things go wrong for me all the time."

Maxa, host of "Rudy Maxa's World" on PBS and a weekly syndicated radio show, said that even if a plan isn't going badly, it's best to be prepared to drop it when something intriguing comes along.

"If you're not going on a tour, you should always be open, if something just catches your fancy," he said.

"Often your most memorable trip is something you did early in life, and it was the first time. I had never been to the south of France, and my wife and I — I think I was 24 years old, 25 years old, we'd been married a couple of years and we went to the south of France. We didn't know enough to plan anything. There was no Internet then. You couldn't just type in and check all the hotels and lodging options and highways and so on. We just rented a car, and fortunately we went on the fringe, either May or September, so we could find a hotel wherever we went. We just drove around in the hills. Yeah, we went into Nice, and Cannes, and Saint-Tropez, but we didn't stay in any of those. We went up into the hills behind them.

"It was a great, great trip, because we didn't know what we were going to find. We had no idea what to expect."


10 Best Once In A Lifetime Trips: Best Of 2013 Bucket List Travel
There are lots of travel "bucket lists," but most come up short on two counts. They are overly broad, like "go climb a mountain," and they fail to take into account that people have different tastes — not everyone wants to climb mountains. ... This list is a variety of experiences and destinations by theme for every taste, and each is the best in its class, from awesome skiing to space travel. (Forbes)

Grand Canyon: Trip of a Lifetime
Don't be blase about the Grand Canyon. If you are, it will eat you. It will shame and humiliate you. Go ahead and get morning-before-Christmas excited about this place. And expect the dictionary definition of awe when you see it for the first time: "solemn wonder tinged with latent fear". The canyon will not let you down. Either way, you'll probably cry. I did. ... As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon, in the high desert of northern Arizona, offers the most complete engagement with the human spirit I've ever witnessed. (Pamela Petro, The Telegraph)

The Dream List: 32 Trips of a Lifetime
Meeting baby elephants in Kenya. Getting an in-depth look at Yves Saint-Laurent's private archives with a Parisian fashion historian. Walking in the footsteps of emperors through normally off-limits sections of Beijing's Forbidden City. These are some of the world's most sought-after travel experiences--those that take you behind the scenes, allowing privileged access to people, places, and events that are verboten to most. But you won't read about any of these exploits in the guidebook. Entree is possible only through the right connections; travel specialists with the inside contacts to transform your fantasies into reality. Ready to be inspired? (Conde Nast Traveler)

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.