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Natchez native aims to teach Miss-Lou how to budget travel

Published 12:01am Sunday, May 27, 2012

NATCHEZ — Natchez-native Bill Passman has spent the past six years traveling the world. He has seen seven continents and 41 countries over those years, and now he is bringing his knowledge of travel back home to the Miss-Lou.

Passman, who specializes in budget travel, has opened up a travel office in Natchez that will take interested travelers on trips all over the world. His first trip is scheduled to go to Costa Rica on June 22.

“I decided to offer budget travel so that those with little money would have an opportunity to travel and those who had money could travel more,” Passman said.

Passman’s knowledge of budget travel has allowed him to save thousands of dollars on trips across the globe, and his goal is not only to take guests on a budgeted trip, but also show them how to budget travel on their own.

“While all my trips will be guided, I plan on stressing independence within the trip if they wish,” he said. “If not, I will be there every step of the way until they are more comfortable.

“My overall goal is to teach those who are interested to travel independently in the future by themselves. Hopefully after one or more trips my job will be done, and I will no longer be needed.”

Passman will also host travel meetings out of Everyday Adventure on Main Street on Thursdays when he is not out of the country. The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, and he will discuss the two scheduled trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala, future trips and other budget travel topics.

“Besides talking about trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala, we will also talk about possible destinations in September and October such as Peru, Ireland, Italy or other destinations of interest,” Passman said.

The travelers that choose to spend the $1,195 it costs to take the trip to Costa Rica will get a travel experience that they will be able to shape themselves, instead of checking off items on an itinerary, Passman said.

“What makes our trips different is we are not controlled by the daily itinerary,” he said. “There is no specific place to go at a certain time. Each person may decide what activities they want each day or where they want to eat.”

Passman said his budget-travel techniques stress the idea of travel, instead of vacation.

“I never like to use the word vacation, but prefer travel,” he said. “Vacation means escape, while travel is more about learning, experiences and adventure.

“The budget traveler seeks out the differences in other countries and cultures and embraces them. This is done in the pursuit of education, exploration and self-discovery.”

With that in mind, Passman hopes his travelers will embrace the people and culture of their destinations.

“I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to interact with the locals,” he said. “Eating at a local, non-tourist, restaurant or shopping at a local market gives you a true feeling of the people and the culture.”

There should always be some time and money set aside for the budget traveler to indulge once or twice, however, Passman said.

“I always include a mini-vacation within my travels,” he said. “I will splurge on a nice meal, upgrade my room for a night or just lay on the beach. There is no reason you can’t have a vacation and learn something about the people, culture and the country.”

Passman said he always calls his form of travel “backpacking,” but that term turns off some U.S. travelers.

“Backpacking does not involve carrying huge backpacks around the country or necessarily staying in dorms,” he said.

Passman said he chose Costa Rica for his first trip because of its beauty as well as its ability to be a great first experience for budget travelers.

“Costa Rica is our main starting point,” he said. “It’s like backpacking with training wheels.”

After the Costa Rica trip, Passman plans to take another group of travelers to Guatemala in August, he said.

Passman said he had wanted to start his new venture for a long time but had to wait for the right opportunity.

“I could never find the right situation,” he said.

Passman said he teamed up with Everyday Adventure to provide the Miss-Lou with both local and international adventures.

“They had begun bike and kayak tours,” Passman said. “It made perfect sense that we could combine the best of adventure travel in Natchez with adventures around the world.”

Passman said he spends a great deal of time researching budget travel, and he has combined his experiences with his research to write a book for budget travel called, “Backpacking Around the World: A Guide to Independent and Safe Travel.”

Passman’s first trip was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2006, and he said that he managed to find a $1,200 trip and saved approximately $4,000.

His most recent major trip started at the Grand Canyon and then went to Colombia for a five-month tour of South America.

For more information on the travel meeting or any of the trips, contact Passman at 318-403-1271 or Everyday Adventure’s Lena Yarbrough at 601-392-3079.