As Spring rolls around here at the Ghostvillage.com world headquarters, my thoughts are turning to better weather and the ability to travel without too much interference from Mother Nature. Ever since I published my first book, The World’s Most Haunted Places, way back in 2004, I’ve understood that there are plenty of us who incorporate haunted locations into our travel plans.
For me, it started back in 2001, when I was working in marketing for a software company in Connecticut. I had to travel for my job, which is always a great opportunity if you can get it. On one trip I was sent to Paris, France, for a conference. As work conferences go, you’re busy most of the day, but there are chunks of the day when you get some time to yourself. While some of my colleagues were heading to the local bars, I had arranged a visit to the Catacombs of Paris--an underground network of tunnels through solid limestone that contain millions of human bones from over 60 generations of Parisians.
Down below the city, in the dark, quiet tunnels, with no sounds save for the crunch of gravel under my shoes and the occasional drip, drip, drip, of water as it makes its way through 20 meters of limestone above me, I was alone among the remains of the dead. It was there that I saw my first ghost--a dark apparition that looked more like a shadow than a person, passing in front of me as I walked along rows of countless, neatly-stacked bones. If not a ghost, I have no other word for what I experienced that day.
I returned home from Paris and wrote about that place, that experience. I later included it in my first book. People would ask me, “How do you have the money to go to some of these haunts around the world?” The answer is simple: I don’t. But I take advantage of travel opportunities. During family vacations I try to scope out at least one haunt to see. And now I take my daughter. I have no intention of trying to push her into the family business or anything, but she’s naturally curious. If she wants to explore some creepy location with me, I’m not stopping her.
Two weeks ago I had to travel through nine different states for my work on the Ghost Adventures show on the Travel Channel. I had the opportunity to see a bunch of different haunts within the towns I scouted. I love the many textures and layers of these haunts. I feel the way art lovers feel as they wander a museum looking at paintings. Seeing the influences, the various brush strokes, and trying to understand what each painting, or in this case, each haunt means in the bigger picture.
Travel makes you grow as a person, and learn like no other experience. When you incorporate legends and haunts into your travel, you not only experience a location, but also its history and a deeper side of the community. You get below the surface. This month, I’d love to hear about some of your haunted travel in our Message Board of the Month!