"It's About Time...& Travel" is a travel memoir that navigates one man's journey during his 50 years of unique, amazing and sometimes dangerous travel experiences.
Richard Kahn, a well-known industry figure, a former editor and president of KTCpr company, shares his experiences in some of the 129 countries he visited over the span of more than 50 years.
"This is not a story of time travel. This is a book about real life along a timeline filled with travel experiences," Kahn said in the preface to his book, which he wrote during the Covid lockdown from his winter home in Florida and his summer lake house near Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "It's About Time...& Travel" (Archway Publishing) is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Kahn's stories span years of experiences: Pan Am's first 747 flight from New York to London in January 1970; Grenada in 1983, at the time of the coup that led to a landing by U.S. Marines; Russia in 1989, where a young couple asked him to swap his blue jeans for some Russian souvenirs.
At the ASTA World Travel Conference in Rome in 1985, Kahn was among thousands of delegates who were granted an audience with Pope John Paul II. Kahn held his breath as the pontiff moved slowly down the aisle of St. Peter's Basilica. "The Pope was standing directly in front of me. He smiled, took my hand and said something to me," Kahn wrote. "Not sure what he said, I answered 'I am a travel writer.' He then blessed me, let go of my hand and moved on to the next row." Kahn said that experience "remains one of the most powerful moments in my life."
At another ASTA convention, this one in Manila in 1980, a bomb went off during the opening ceremony attended by 6,000 travel advisors, media and Philippine tourism officials.
Ferdinand Marcos was speaking, and Kahn was in the center of the room, a few rows from the explosion. Later three more bombs were discovered, one in the row immediately behind Kahn. They never went off.
Richard Kahn Photo Credit: KTCpr
Kahn's fondest memories stem from his interactions with people he met on the streets, in subways, at concerts, in coffee shops and cafes, in pubs and bars, or during a flight, a cruise or a train ride. For example, he wrote, at a nightclub in Helsinki in July 1985, he joined a table of friendly people from Sweden, Holland and Finland. "We sat, drank local beer. The singers ended their set with Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA,' and half the audience joined in singing along with them."
In Australia in the late 1970s, Kahn was befriended by two women at a bus stop in Sydney when he asked directions for the bus back to his hotel. They waited with him for the right bus, boarded it with him when it arrived, paid for his ticket, gave him a sightseeing tour along the way and deposited him at his hotel.
He thanked them and offered them a drink but they smiled and declined, saying simultaneously, "We just wanted to make sure that you didn't get lost on your first day in Sydney."
In the memoir, he also takes a serious look at religion, race relations and right and wrong and shares this as part of his personal growth as an individual who has gone from his birthplace in Brooklyn, N.Y., to college in Kentucky and back to New York, gateway to his around-the-world travels.
"I could have filled another 100 pages, so many stories left to tell, but the publisher put a lid on that," Kahn told me. "Writing is in my blood. I needed a new outlet after I stepped aside as president of KTCpr, although I am still a consultant."
What's next? "I don't yet have the answer, but maybe I'll try a novel with a travel theme," he said.
Kahn has plenty of material to work with.