Who is Spencer?

Washington D.C. Lincoln MemorialI was fortunate enough to start traveling at a young age, thanks to a flight attendant sister and history teacher father who believed the only way to travel was by pop-up camper. It was the best of both worlds. I’d be lying though, if I didn’t say I was eating up having my own personal flight attendant when I flew by myself for the first time at age 7 (naturally with a notebook and disposable camera in hand). It was about that time, too, that I started drinking—Coca Cola that is. The first essay I ever remember writing was a submission for a competition to win a year’s supply of Coca-Cola. My essay: An account of how I beat Michael Jordan at a game of H-O-R-S-E in my backyard.

Fast-forward more than two decades later and I’ve graduated from a notebook, disposable camera, and bottle of Coca-Cola to a laptop, DSLR, and bottle of whiskey. My work in travel was first largely associated with The Traveling Philosopher, a travelogue website I started several years ago, and then at Expedia, where I served as the Editor-in-Chief for three years. Life just prior to The Traveling Philosopher had hit rock-bottom. Yet I used it as a springboard to quit my job, sell and give away everything that wouldn’t fit into a backpack, and embark on a journey of traveling and living nomadically, supporting myself through freelance writing and consulting. The Traveling Philosopher was that place where I could color outside the lines, documenting my travels and reflecting on what I was learning (read more about that evolution here).

Flying in airThe four years since have taken me from living in a little Costa Rica beach town to learning to surf in Spain’s Canary Islands to taking karate lessons in Okinawa, Japan from a former student of Mr. Miyagi to paragliding over the Hawaii island of Maui on my 30th birthday to hot-air ballooning over South Africa. It’s been a literal and figurative trip, channeling my inner Hunter. S. Thompson (whom I quote below).


Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

But as my travels, and therefore, life have evolved the last few years, so have my interests and expertise. I’m now in year No. 2 of living in Los Angeles, the longest I’ve continuously lived anywhere since I was in high school. Take a peek into my house and you’ll find a wine fridge full of my own beer (yes, a wine fridge full of beer) I’ve brewed and an old Jim Beam whiskey barrel (that doubles as a cabinet) stocked to the hilt with bottles of whiskey (among other spirits) that I’ve collected from around the world. Peek at my Instagram feed and you’ll find some of my favorite food and drink concoctions I’ve found both near and afar, as well as made myself. And then look at my passport (and upcoming travel itineraries) and you see travels both near and afar that are planned around food and drinks (and the occasional item from The List).

But if there’s anything that you take away from my life or what you find here on Whiskey Tango Globetrot, I simply hope that you’ll be inspired to live, and to live well, be it visiting a new country (that leads to becoming an expat), brewing your own batch of beer (that leads to opening your own brewery), documenting your own story (that leads to becoming a published author or photographer), or traveling to an unfamiliar part of your own home state or country (which simply leads you to being a better citizen). We only get one shot at this life, so we might as well make it count, because if we do it right, then once is enough.

Who is Spencer…when given a 140 character limit?

Brother, uncle, writer, occasional editor, marketer, foodie, bartender, brewer, photographer, on-camera personality, trucker hat wearing boarder.

Once upon a time (as a child) I played the banjo.

My parents attempt at a claim to fame was submitting a video to America’s Funniest Home Videos. It never made it on.

I’ve been to 47 U.S. states, 25 of which my parents and I did on one road trip when I was 17.

My parents drove off without me on a road trip to the Grand Canyon…for all of about 30 seconds.

I once flew an aerobatic plane (and lost my breakfast doing so…three times).

Last year I did a one-year project starting on my 30th birthday to do 30 things I had never done but always wanted to do. I did 38.

My middle name, Murray, was my mother’s maiden name, with our family hailing from Scotland and County Moray.

My go-to Scotch whiskey is Auchentoshan while my favorite everyday whiskey is George Dickel.

Amsterdam Canals