Safford made several cruises during his career, to the Caribbean and South Atlantic (visiting a number of central and south American countries) as well as to the South Pacific (conducting research on the flora and fauna of American Samoa). He wrote serialized accounts of these excursions. In one of his accounts he recalls how he saw himself as a sort of latter-day Darwin, using the navy to transport him to exotic locales where he could examine, catalogue and discover plant species. He recalled how his shipmates thought him a great pain because the equipment he would have to bring ashore was a great bother. They, on the other hand, went ashore with their guns in “manly” pursuit of game to kill.