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J. Duncan Moore Jr.: Seattle Writer & Luxury Travel Guest Author

A Baltimore Kitchen Map Sparked His Lifetime Passion for Travel


J. Duncan Moore Jr.: Seattle Writer & Luxury Travel Guest Author

Luxury Travel Guest Author Duncan Moore at home in Chicago.

©Martha Miller

How J. Duncan Moore Jr. Discovered the World

Today a Luxury Travel writer, journalist J. Duncan Moore Jr. got bitten by the travel bug early in life. "I grew up with a huge map of the United States pinned to the wall over my family's breakfast table in Baltimore," he relates. "I'm sure this instilled my lifelong curiosity about the world."

Adds Duncan (as he is known), "In those days, 'the world' meant anything beyond Maryland."

At the age of 15, Duncan plotted his family's summer vacation to California: destination Disneyland. By 17 he was on a plane to Europe to explore London, Paris, and the Netherlands by bicycle. "Travel was a natural for me," he says. "I can still remember standing on a hillside outside London and thinking, 'I have been here before, somehow.'"

After earning a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a master's from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Duncan returned to Europe. "I lived in Germany and France and mastered those languages, more or less," he says. "I hitchhiked all over the Continent, and was welcomed into many people's homes."

How Duncan Became a Travel Writer

In the 1980s, Duncan began his career as a journalist writing headlines at The Baltimore Sun. Later, he worked as a reporter, editor, and book reviewer at The Kansas City Star.

At the Sun, Duncan filed his first travel pieces. His subject: the then-unknown territory of East Germany behind the Iron Curtain. After leaping through bureaucratic hoops imposed by the Communist authorities, he traveled with a friend from East Berlin through the countryside. It was here, says Duncan, that "Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach sowed the seeds of modern thought."

Since then, Duncan has filed frequent travel stories about the somewhat less enigmatic American Midwest.

Duncan's Most Unpleasant Travel Experience

This intrepid voyager's most unexpected travel experience occurred on a journey to Mauretania, in the western Sahara. "On my way to visit the French colonial city of St. Louis in Senegal, I stood on the north shore of the Senegalese River all day, barred from boarding the ferry to the other side," he recalls.

"Nobody told me I was supposed to pay a bribe to get on the boat," he says. "But eventually I realized that almost everywhere in Africa at that time, the gendarmes had their hands out for cash."

Duncan's Other Beat

Since the 1990s, Duncan's reporting has focused on the complex and controversial healthcare industry. The media he has covered this beat for include Modern Healthcare, Bloomberg News, KaiserHealthNews.org, and MedicareNewsGroup.com.

Duncan has also contributed freelance articles on various topics to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, and to the website and magazine of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Duncan has also been on staff at McKinsey & Company, the famed international consulting firm.

You'll Thank Duncan for this O'Hare Tip

These days, Duncan hangs his safari hat in Chicago, which he calls "the Third, formerly Second, City." As a Chicagoan, he must contend with O'Hare International Airport.

"O'Hare-bashing is an American travel pastime," he observes. "But as the USA's busiest airport, O'Hare is also brilliant hub. You can get anywhere in the United States, plus most international destinations, in one non-stop flight from Chicago. And flying direct is always a good start to a trip."

Get into Chicago the Fast Way -- Duncan's Way

Clearly, Duncan has got O'Hare down. "Once you've landed at O'Hare and your destination is in downtown Chicago, do not take a cab," he advises. "Take the L instead. This famous elevated train costs only $2.25, as opposed to $35 or $40 for a cab."

"You'll save time as well as money," he says. "In rush hour, at least, the L will be much faster. It's only 40 minutes, max, from the terminal at O'Hare to Dearborn Street in the Loop. You could cool your jets in a cab on the Kennedy Expressway for an hour or more."

"Chicago's afternoon rush hour begins at 2:30pm and lasts until 8, seven days a week," says this Windy City pundit. "The highways turn to sludge. You might as well be in Los Angeles."

2014 update: Duncan relocated to Seattle, "exchanging cold for rain," he says. "No place is perfect."

Read Duncan's Luxury Travel Stories

  • A beautifully renovated, service-oriented hotel in Brazil's sophisticated mega-city, Renaissance Sao Paulo

More Articles & Essays by Duncan

Where to Connect with J. Duncan Moore, Jr.

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