Joel Carillet, a Tennessee-based writer and photographer, has traveled to more than sixty countries. His work has appeared in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, World Hum, and The Best Travel Writing 2008. From 2007 to 2009 he wrote a biweekly travel column for Gather.com called “Reflections on the Road,” and from 2008 to 2012 he wrote a column entitled "Hidden Treasures" for Wanderingeducators.com. He is also the author of 30 Reasons to Travel: Photographs and Reflections from Southeast Asia.
Raised in Atlanta and Papua New Guinea, Joel went to college and graduate school in Tennessee. Shortly after his 30th birthday in 2003—and after having worked in Egypt, Palestine, Ukraine, and Washington DC—he entered the nebulous world of travel writing by boarding a flight to Beijing. Fourteen months later, after 529 hours on buses, 206 hours on trains, 121 hours in cars and trucks, and 64 hours on boats and ships, he reached Istanbul. With him were a mound of notes and interviews, with which he would soon disappear into a Tennessee library for a year to craft a book (still unpublished, unfortunately).
His journeys have taken him to intriguing locales, including an Egyptian security office (it is illegal to summit the Great Pyramid at 1:00 a.m.), a Turkish hospital (a stranger’s drugged Oreo can induce a 20-hour slumber), and the back wall of a Tibetan secondary school (where looking at bare-bottomed foreigners ravaged by an intestinal bug is a spectator sport). His writing doesn’t shun adventure, but its ultimate goal is to help people understand one another. It seeks to capture the beauty and complexity—and sometimes the horror—in which we and our neighbors live. And so whether writing or taking photographs, he tries to keep in mind something he wrote to himself in 2004:
Traveling, when done well, is nothing less than learning to love—loving things like adventure and change, yes, but even more learning to love people with names like Mustafa, Flora, Yangyang, Sikander, and Balram. It is learning to love places in all their complexities and contradictions, beauty and horror. It is learning to love our connectedness—that no matter what the religion, war, language, or worldview, we are, when all is said and done, neighbors in a world we share.
For a smattering of pictures of Joel on the road, click here.
And for an April 2009 interview at Travel Blissful, click here.
Photos of Joel on home and about pages © Björn Vaughn