People We Love: Troy M. Litten

People We Love: Troy M. Litten - Prague, Czech Republic

Name: Troy M. Litten

Base: San Francisco

Occupation: Art Director / Graphic Designer / Photographer

Welcome to the first in a series of profiles of people we like here at EuroCheapo. Troy M. Litten is the ideal candidate for the first installment of this series. A San Francisco-based graphic designer, Troy is our kind of traveler. Troy has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and South America, typically traveling for several months every year.

Why EuroCheapo Hearts Troy M. Litten

Creative budget traveler extraordinaire, Troy has created a line of books (several all-purpose journals, a travel journal, an address book, postcard sets, an engagement calendar, and, the crowning glory of the series, a 208 page mini-coffee table book) that trumpet his travel-mad aesthetic.

Published by Chronicle Books under the Wanderlust imprint, these books are completely full of Troy's images of phone booths, mailboxes, subway maps, train stations, menus and hotel lobbies, to name just a few subjects. Troy's photos celebrate the mundane details of daily life as travelers encounter it. Troy's work has been written about in newspapers, magazines and design journals ranging from American publications (including Dwell, the Washington Post, and Communication Arts) to Switzerland's Tages Anzeiger.


Troy's Zagreb.

Where have you traveled?

Good question. I had to consult my handy atlas. In no particular order, I've visited the United States (34 states and counting!), Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Russia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Morocco, Cuba, Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

That's 44 countries thus far, which sounds like plenty, but considering the fact that there are currently 196 countries in the world, I've visited less than a quarter of the world's countries.

Did you consciously become crazy about travel, or have you always been obsessed with visiting different places?

It kinda just happened. Growing up, all I knew of the world was northwest Ohio (with a few family forays into adjacent states with the camper, and the requisite trip to Disney World). Then I spent a summer backpacking around Europe during university, and was hooked.

I spent a few years living and working in London and exploring more of Europe after graduation, then 9 months traveling from London back to the United States eastward (and overland from Berlin to Hong Kong) and have hit the road as often as possible ever since.

Can you elaborate on your own travel philosophy a little bit?

When I travel, the destination is not really the point. I always tell myself it's not about getting there, it's about all the fun I can have along the way. I tell myself this to remind myself to just slow down, relax, open my eyes, and take it all in.

Do you have any tips for settling into the pace of the places you're visiting?

Wander with no specific destination in mind. Visit the markets in the early morning. Smile at people you pass on the street. Rent a bicycle or motorbike and head out of town. See an opera or a symphony from the cheap seats. Ride the subway and/or the buses to the ends of the lines. Loiter about in train station cafés and restaurants. Play menu roulette with menus you can't read. Ask a local for directions. Learn some of the language and use it, no matter how many people laugh at you.

How do you choose the images you use in the Wanderlust series?

Choosing images for my Wanderlust work is difficult at times. I have accumulated so many photos and so much travel ephemera over the course of my travels.

Each piece in the Wanderlust series has presented unique opportunities to utilize the material I have collected. For example, the Wanderlust Phone Book address book is the perfect place for my series of photos of public telephones from around the world.

For the Wanderlust Travel, I chose to focus on how we travel, instead of places we travel to. So I used photos, ephemera, illustrations, and text that revolve around modes of transportation (primarily air, train, subway, and bus) for the bulk of the journal.

The Wanderlust book [the "mini coffee table book"] presented a very unique opportunity to compile a collection of images that speaks more comprehensively to what I find most interesting and inspiring about traveling. I chose images that best capture the most commonplace experiences of traveling in an effort to capture the beauty, adventure, whimsy, frustration, boredom, and wonder of travel.

I like to aim my camera at the "details" of travel, the little things that are instantly recognizable, or maybe simply vaguely familiar, to anyone who has ever strayed far from home.

What's your favorite European city?

It's difficult to name just one. I'd have to say Warsaw. Telling you why is even more difficult! The dreary architectural remnants of Cold War communism, the infectious Polish spirit and freewheeling entrepreneurship, the funky neon signs, the trundling trams and dysfunctional public telephones in red, blue, and yellow, the huge Russian Market in a decrepit stadium (supposedly the largest outdoor market in Europe) are all part of the picture.

What's your ideal European itinerary?

Definitely Eastern Europe. I'd start in Budapest, another favorite European city of mine, then set off on a somewhat circular trajectory through Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia & Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, and then back to Budapest to soak in the saunas for a week or so.

Thanks Troy! Happy travels.

Get inspired with graphic designer Troy M. Litten's Wanderlust series of books, journals and postcards available online at the Chronicle Books website.

Also be sure to check out Troy's publications at

For more inspiration to hit the road, check out Troyland, Troy M. Litten's Website.

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