I’m Hank Leukart, a filmmaker, writer, and travel addict.
I’ve traveled to over 50 countries while writing my travelogue, Without Baggage. My travel philosophy is to avoid all the things that kill the fun of travel — guides, pre-planned itineraries, and heavy luggage — and embrace independent adventure. On recent trips, I have hiked and paddled 370 miles across New Zealand's South Island, walked 580 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, trekked 115 miles with my brother across Iceland, climbed 191 miles in Nepal over the Three Passes and to Everest Base Camp, backpacked in post-revolution Egypt, boated down the Congo River, cycled through Vietnam, snowshoed the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, packrafted Alaska’s Denali, and hiked in Chilean Patagonia.
I’m also a filmmaker who has produced a variety of adventure-travel television shows for American television networks. I raced, literally around the world, as a producer for CBS’s The Amazing Race; survived weeks in the Panamanian jungle and Peruvian Amazon for Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, stalked prey in an intense manhunt through the Sierra Nevada for The CW’s Capture; kayaked and bushwhacked through a remote chain of Fijian islands for TNT’s 72 Hours; hiked across Morocco with a camera for ABC’s Expedition Impossible; and worked with expert marskmen, firing gatling guns and grenade launchers in the California desert, for History’s Top Shot.
It’s a non sequitur, but, there was a time, not so long ago, when I worked as a software designer for Microsoft. And, yes, I’m the same Hank who wrote and published The Doom Hacker’s Guide (Henry Holt/MIS:Press), a 300-page book about the seminal computer game, Doom. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and People Magazine wrote about me and the book.
I earned my undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, where I wrote over 130 pieces for The Dartmouth newspaper.
About Without Baggage
The world is full of different kinds of travel writing. There’s travel writing covering boring logistics (“The [hotel’s] mostly white rooms are spacious and cheerful,”) full of superlatives (“Bali is one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and intoxicating places on earth,”) and infused with clichés (“Getting there is half the fun.”) Some reads like a diary, chronicling daily minutiae. Some reads like an exaggerated movie plot.
Travel writing can be better. In Without Baggage, I write short, personal essays about the bizarre adventures and interesting people I encounter as I travel around the world. Sometimes the essays are funny, sometimes they’re sad, and sometimes I get distracted and write too much about eating blueberries and Belgian waffles. But, all of the stories are true.
Hank backpacks the Grand Canyon, rim to rim to rim.
Hank stands in Morocco’s Black Canyon while working on ABC’s Expedition Impossible.
Awards and Press
Voters selected Without Baggage as one of the Internet's top five travel blogs in the 2009 Weblog Awards (the Bloggies).
The illustrious editors of The Guardian, one of the UK's biggest newspapers, designated Without Baggage as one of their favorite six travel blogs.
"A traveler's online magazine with brains and heart," Without Baggage "delves into the world's interesting places with a sense of purpose. The essays posted every so often evoke emotions and intellectual pursuits that aim to explore the depth and meaning of travel experiences whether one heads to Laos or Alaska."
"Superb hiking 'essays'... more akin to magazine articles than trip reports... one of my favourite sites... I instantly subscribed to Without Baggage. And recommend you do too."
In both 2010 and 2011, panelists focused on "only the most epic, useful, and inspiring of road trip sites in 2010" and selected Without Baggage as one of the Internet's top ten travel blogs covering road trips. "As a professional journalist and traveler, [Hank's] prose is tight and his adventures are plentiful."
"A fantastic resource for backpacking essays and photos. You can expect to want to take many treks after visiting the Without Baggage site. Leukart, a freelance journalist and television producer, is a great writer and not a bad photographer either. His skills, combined with his extensive travel experience and seeming fearlessness, create an engaging travel website. You simply must check it out."
"This is an excellent blog, well written. The author writes of places most of us armchair travelers would love to visit."
"Good for backpackers and others who like to travel without baggage (or with limited baggage), all presented in a layout refreshingly like one of those old-fashioned paper publications we used to read before the web came along."
"One of my favorite things while reading blogs is when the author reveals something about himself/herself that leaves you wanting to learn just a little bit more about them. You get a true sense of the author's voice..." Without Baggage is a "great travel blog where the author's voice really comes through."
Selected as one of the 50 best travel blogs: "Brilliant and well written."