Her brother may have a thing for cushy hotels and American meals, but on a number of occasions he’s gone where his safety and well-being were far from guaranteed. Like his trip to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, in 2007.
“I went in the spring, and offenses launched by the Taliban have traditionally been late spring,” Rheinberger says. “You keep your eye on things and you read newspapers.” He finds that safety tips from locals are generally offered by women.
One of his most relaxing experiences overseas was in Russia. “The Trans-Siberian Express was kind of cool,” he remembers. “I’ve never slept so well as on that train in Siberia.”
Adhering to a routine he’s honed to an art form, Rheinberger travels with only one piece of luggage—a carry-on bag packed with socks, underwear, extra pants and shirts, cash, credit cards and passport.
He stopped checking airline bags after a misadventure in New Delhi. Authorities there allowed Rheinberger to delay a planeload of scowling Boeing 747 passengers as he crawled through the massive plane’s belly, he says, looking for luggage that wouldn’t arrive from Bangkok until two weeks later.
Rheinberger usually spans the globe by himself, which has advantages and drawbacks. “If I miss a plane, I missed it alone,” he says with a laugh. He chalks that up as a positive. “I can’t blame anyone.”
If Rheinberger wants to change his itinerary at the last second, no compromising is necessary—he just does it. He admits that a downside to solo travel is that it can get lonely at times. He speaks a little Spanish, but says pantomime is a highly effective mode of communication with non-English speakers.
When Somalia, Libya and Cuba are securely in his passport, what does Rheinberger have in mind for an encore?
“I’ll probably get some new collection going!”
Blair S. Walker is a writer in Miami.