By Bruce Northam

Keynote Speaker

KEYNOTE SPEAKER Bruce Northam is the award-winning author of The Directions to Happiness: A 135-Country Quest for Life Lessons. A 25-year veteran of the travel industry, he also penned Globetrotter Dogma, In Search of Adventure, and The Frugal Globetrotter. Bruce’s show, American Detour, reveals the travel writer’s journey. Keynote and media praise follow the presentation topics.


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Road-tested Bruce has felt the lungs of the world expand, and this is his exhale as travel journalist, author, adventurer, and street anthropologist. His three presentations will enhance your travel and tourism industry event—or any meeting that needs a facelift…


DIRECTIONS TO YOUR DESTINATION is a whistleblower intervention for the tourism industry. It reveals the many shades of this brand-crazed business and how to entice travelers in markets spanning from muddy adventure to five-star luxury—markets that could be hiding in plain sight. This presentation is for travel and tourism insiders looking to forecast what’s ahead of the curve—and seize imagination lifelines to the world’s largest industry.


STREET ANTHROPOLOGY is an ode to freestyle wandering—the hardcore takeaways of what Bruce learned out there while not on assignment. Even veteran, hardcore wanderers will be intrigued. Discover what’s trending on the side streets of the world.


THE DIRECTIONS TO HAPPINESS is a journey through 135 countries revealing wisdom from unlikely sages. Often resembling a workshop on happiness, this presentation shares the infinite goodwill of strangers met along the way. He’s spent decades navigating the globe in a continuing search for words to live by—and live for—in a quest for non-traditional self-help and enlightenment. This event will change the way you view traveling and happiness. It’s not about Bruce’s quest for happiness—instead, it showcases his global hunt for how other people found theirs… and how you can discover yours.


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“Bruce is a great storyteller. His unique style grabs the audience, gets them laughing, and inspires everyone to follow their dreams wherever they might lead.” —Scott Flaherty, I LOVE NEW YORK Media Coordinator, on Bruce’s New York State Governor’s Conference on Tourism keynote


Comprehending that keynote speakers are the DJs of the business world and hailed as a writer who “pops the top off objective travel writing” and “live(s) up to the adage that travel writers fear boredom more than death” by Time International, Bruce has reported mostly good news from 135 countries, 50 States, every Canadian Province and territory—and atop both Poles. He stands on an uncommon perch to analyze the tourism industry’s evolution, marketing inventions, and fads. A popular presenter on campuses and Governor’s Tourism Conferences, he enlightens travel-minded devotees with profit-making ideas and what global travelers are truly seeking with an entertaining multimedia compilation of facts, lore, videos, images, tales, and a bit of show-and-tell.


“…an intriguing and valuable guest speaker at any institution.” —University of Virginia


From the practical to travel’s wild essence, Northam bounces from industry realities to stories of drifting with Burma’s sea gypsies, introducing Frisbee to a naked Irian Jayan tribe, hitchhiking across Ireland with his mother (in style), and walking coast-to-coast across England with his father four times. His uplifting, down-to-earth maxims inspire the business of roaming, and life.


“By the end of the book, you like the author, you believe him, and you’ve had a fun ride–because this is no namby-pamby travelogue.” —Travel+Leisure


True: the travel industry is the world’s biggest employer providing approximately 235 million jobs, employing one out of every 12 people directly or indirectly. Take that, oil, tech, medical, and auto industries. Don’t get left behind.


Bruce has discovered that on any journey, the first thing we pack is ourselves. He explores what the motivated traveler loves, loathes, brags about, and why the might lie. While delving into makes travelers open their wallets, commit to trips, and spend blindly, he also revalidates non computerized social trends, because it can’t all be about mobile gadgetry.


“Write This Way.” —Huffington Post


Many folks call themselves travel experts these days, but there’s more to travel advising than miles flown, brief dockings, and elite hotel status. From Antarctica to rural Louisiana, Northam discusses mindsets spanning from budget-minded roamers to ultra-luxury hedonists—and what they have in common. The Q&A epilogue arms travel professionals and would-be adventurers with strategies for exploring new ways to perceive travel writer truth.


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A Sample of Bruce’s Presentation Topics…


TRAVEL TRIBES: Identifying five traveler mindsets






COUNTRY COUNTING? Depends on the referee.


THE TRAVEL WRITING STOP-AND-FRISK: A new reality. What is the price of so-called travel journalism? What makes writers tick, and pen the best stories? The truth about travel media tripping, copycat fever, and where click-bait and eye candy leads.


ELUDING the “Ugly Tourist” syndrome—if everyone if now ‘off-the-beaten-path’ is this new path beaten?


PURCHASE LIGHTNING: Which seminal moments convince consumers to commit to excursions and destinations?


THE AMATEUR EXPERT BOOM: Engaging mission-based and hobby-focused travel.


TAPPING EMERGING MARKETS by analyzing the always-evolving backpacker trail.


ENGLISH IS NOT MATH. Reinventing destination marketing slogans—creating ads instead of chasing them.


LIFE LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: Collected World Wisdom.


FLUFF: What do the high-end hotels frequently get wrong? LEAN AND GREEN? The Carbon Footprint Factor—isn’t there more to being green than recycling towels?


CHARITABLE PR: Luring tourist dollars to where they’re needed most.


NAVIGATING the social media model without spending your life on a computer by redefining the blog; word-of-mouth.


DON’T BE AFRAID TO ROAM OUT OF BOUNDS: Savor the pleasure in gambling when you don’t care if you win or lose. Capitalizing on your best offerings.


TAKE WING: Staying afloat in the climate of terrorism and airline dysfunction.


TRAVEL INDUSTRY CONFERENCES and travel writing associations—so many choices.


TRAVEL DOS AND DON’TS—on the road and at this meeting/conference.


WHAT would pioneering travel writers MARK TWAIN and HENRY DAVID THOREAU think about the state of modern tourism?


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KEYNOTE PRAISE for Bruce Northam…


“Ingenious methods to grasp hold of an enormous range of traveling opportunities  . . . well-organized, entertaining and vibrantly clear, offering information that immediately elicited a positive response  . . . an intriguing and valuable guest speaker at any institution.” —University of Virginia


“Bruce Northam rocks! … This guy is exciting, fun, and full of enough information to get anyone interested in truly enjoying life  . . . shows us that we’re only confined to the extent that we limit our dreams  . . . incredible slide-show  . . . humorous  . . . motivating  . . . This guy needs to hit every college campus in the nation.” —University of Tulsa


“Wonderful presentation… people around here are still talking about it.” —Rutgers University


“Insightful  . . . Excellent program  . . . adventures that are available to everyone with an open mind  . . . highly recommend [his] program to other campus organizations.” —NC State


“It was obvious that his presentation was enjoyed … informative and funny and very knowledgeable … fast paced … Any SAB looking for a fun program should book Bruce Northam.” —Oklahoma State University


“Lecture was both fun and informative  . . . everyone who went thoroughly enjoyed it.  You inspired a lot of people to go out and explore the world as you have done.” —University of the Pacific


“Envious of your energy and enthusiasm.  The students appreciated your vitality, but particularly responded to your varied interests evidenced by your travel experiences and your practical advice.  In your presentations there is wit, humor, and a sly commentary on life.” —Lynchburg College


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MEDIA PRAISE for Bruce Northam…


“Embrace what can happen when the familiar is left behind.” —Long Island Pulse


“A Literary Compass: 135 Countries, Infinite Lessons, One Book.” —Travelgirl Magazine


“A Chicken Soup for the Traveler—with balls.” —The Expeditioner


“Adventure rock ‘n’ roll.” —Condé Nast


“This collection of travel tales doesn’t just push the envelope; it shreds it.” —San Francisco Examiner


“…an engrossing read. And, for anyone who has ever dreamed of escape or imagined a wilder existence, this refreshing and sometimes over‑the‑top compilation will not disappoint.” —


“…100 pithy travel stories … tales that are smart, funny and even risqué.”  —National Geographic Traveler


“…the wanderlust-addicted writers of these exciting travel essays, undergo physical challenges and life-changing insights as they explore seldom-visited places … zany, enthusiastic adventurers and hippie journalists push travel writing far beyond Sunday supplement fare.” —Boston Herald


“…pops the top off objective travel writing  . . .  live(s) up to the adage that travel writers fear boredom more than death.”  —TIME Int’l


“Anything can happen when you travel. And in the new anthology, ‘In Search of Adventure,’ just about everything does … dozens of writers share 100 amazing tales and take you to places you might never go. The book celebrates the wild side of travel.” —New York Post


“Roughing It: The rough‑and‑ready contributors would probably eat their luggage before they’d pack a velvet tea gown or shooting tweeds. If they have luggage at all ‑‑ this is the crowd that travels with a toothbrush, a pair of jeans and a passport. They’re an eclectic crew of adventurers…” —Washington Post


“…a collection of extraordinary memories, memories that conjure our own most moving journeys and make us hunger for more.” —Salon Magazine


“Body and soul are individually served.” —Publisher’s Weekly


“…be entertained, enlightened, and sometimes shocked by these honest slices of life on the road.” —Travel Weekly


“Lovers of storytelling and anyone looking for summer vacation inspiration shouldn’t miss this.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian


“The anthology is a fresh, irreverent look at international travel, and delves into areas often glossed over, including experiences with crime, sex, and religious fraud.” —San Francisco Chronicle


“…an offbeat look at saving while seeing … delving into subjects such as endangered paradises and women traveling alone … lots of practical advice.” —Boston Globe


“Traveling is like sex.  The more you know and the more often you do it, the better you get.  And as with sex manuals, there’s no shortage of travel books on the shelves, but most aren’t worth your time.  We found (one) worth recommending: The Frugal Globetrotter” —Men’s Health


“For more cheap travel ideas, read The Frugal Globetrotter.” —Mademoiselle



*For booking information contact

One Response

  1. Scott & Jake MacMillan

    We both had the pleasure of graduating from LC in 1985. Bruce, an my old friend Andy Sibray told me years ago you were well known in the travel industry, writing travel guides pre internet. We just received Lynchburg monthly magazine and saw you were being recognized for your new writings.
    We are both so excited for you Bruce! Way to go; and way to share your enjoyment of life. We will be reading your writings with great anticipation. If every in Richmond Va please look us up, plenty of room and the door always open.
    Best Regards
    Carolyn “Jake” Hess MacMillan
    Scott MacMillan
    Class of 85

    March 10, 2015 at 12:56 am

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