The Traveling Hipster: An Interview with Adam Groffman


Traveler's Toolbox  


Adam Groffman is the king of hipster travel, which led us to ask, “What is hipster travel anyway?”

To Adam, traveling as a hipster means exploring what’s really going on in a city — instead of what your mass-produced guidebook tells you. It means stopping in local cafes, experiencing the local music scene, tasting local drinks and hanging out in local parks. Essentially, hipster travel involves finding out where the locals like to be and immersing yourself in their culture rather than the usual tourist traps.

Right now, Adam is spending four weeks in Seville, Spain, learning Spanish at the CLIC International School and blogging about his experience on his hipster travel blog. We were able to catch him on a break from his studies and busy online work schedule to ask some of our usual, unusual questions. His responses gave us an inside look at his open-minded — and always hip — travel lifestyle.

LR: How is your Spanish coming along?

AG: Bien…yo creo! After having not practiced the language very seriously in over 10 years, it’s been a bit of a challenge to regain my vocabulary, but hopefully after four weeks in Spain, it’ll come back to me.

LR: Where do you call home?

AG: Berlin. I spend all my time there, really. It’s a tough city to leave even if just for a weekend city break, but I manage to do it on occasion. I always love coming back to the city though and seeing the TV tower, eating cheap food or just enjoying my favorite coffee shops and parks and other things to see.


LR: What is your beverage of choice?

AG: Club Mate – a drink popular in Berlin.

LR: What book do wish you could tell people you’ve read?

AG: “The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton.

LR: What’s the weirdest item you can’t travel without?

AG: I used to travel with a red shoestring that I kept tied around my wrist. I used it in hostels to tie my watch to the bed, so no one could steal it. That was back when I was paranoid.

LR: Where is the strangest place you’ve peed?

AG: On top of Mount Sinai in Egypt.

LR: What are your travel plans for 2014?

AG: Well, after this month in Seville, it’s back to Berlin. I’ll probably spend the rest of the winter and early spring close to home, maybe visiting Leipzig, Prague and some cities in Poland. I’m sure I’ll be back to London, Rome or Barcelona throughout the year as well. It’s hard to stay away from those cities for too long.


LR: What is your travel garment of choice?

AG: Skinny ties.

LR: What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen on a plane?

AG: I watched Invictus once while flying first-class from Dallas to Madrid. That and a bottle of wine pretty much had me in tears for the second half of the flight.

LR: Where are you dying to go that you haven’t been?

AG: I’d love to go to Lisbon, to Amsterdam and to Stockholm – all cities I haven’t been to yet.

LR: Coffee or tea?


LR: What’s your No.1 piece of hipster travel advice?

AG: Generally my advice is to seek out local sources of information rather than mass-produced travel guides. Local blogs, forums and social media are going to be the go-to places for hipsters looking to travel. It’s where we spend our time anyways. When I travel, I’m always on the lookout for local blogs (sites like Gothamist for New York City, DIY Tel Aviv for Tel Aviv or the Londonist for London). But there are bigger online media which are also really great at curating indie content.

LR: Who do you miss most when you travel?

AG: My boyfriend. Or my kitchen knife (I like to cook).

LR: What travel app can’t you live without?

AG: Foursquare.


LR: Where would you most like to have a layover?

AG: In a big airport somewhere. I love big, modern airports! Spain has some beautiful ones.

LR: Where would you loathe to have a layover?

AG: Somewhere small, probably as I imagine a tiny backwoods airport in the Ukraine or somewhere.

LR: Cash or credit?

AG: Credit, but I collect cash and coins from my travels

LR: What destination disappointed you most?

AG: Florence. Give me Rome any day!

LR: What’s the best item you’ve found on the ground?

AG: I once found an unpeeled orange on the ground in Boston. It was during some protest or demonstration, and I picked it up near Boston Downtown Crossing and ate it.

LR: Where was the most beautiful sunset you’ve seen?

AG: Halong Bay, Vietnam


LR: Real name or nom d’ plume?

AG: I’m always me.

LR: Which country has the best food?

AG: Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy! So much so that I edit the content for an Italian food blog for one of my favorite Rome tours!

LR: Balut (raw chicken fetus) or Keviche (cow brain soup)?

AG: Balut!

LR: Do you think the hipster image will be around forever, or is just another fad?

AG: It’s already been around for a long time, it’s just that the image changes over time. There were the Beatniks in the mid-20th century and just about every decade has had a different type of hipster. I’ve even said Walt Whitman might be considered a hipster in his day and age.

LR: What song title best describes you?

AG: Forever Young




About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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