A New Adventure: UK to PNG

Papua New Guinea….

A land of head-hunting tribes, WWII battlefields, weird creatures, stunning islands, steaming jungles and mysterious peaks. This is one of the most remote countries in the world. I have wanted to go since I was a kid.

Papua New Guinea is raw adventure country. This is the kind of place frequented only by National Geographic expeditions and mad botanists. Like Venezuela, Palestine or Iran; it is well off the normal backpacking trail, I would have it all to myself… If I could only get there.

I pulled down a massive map from the wall and set to work with a piece of string and red thumbtacks…

I knew that I wanted to get to Papua New Guinea and I didn’t want to fly. I wanted to head out into the big, bad world like the explorers of old; doing everything by thumb, local transport or my own two feet. I would walk (and sail) my way to Papua New Guinea if I had to.

Pakistan, Iran, Tibet, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Macedonia – there is a lot of cool sounding countries between the UK to PNG. There are countries I know literally nothing about… huge swathes of the planet which, for me, are a mystery.

UK to Papua New Guinea

I want to see as much as I can.

I want to be able to get around Europe with ease, I considered hiring a campervan or buying an inter-railing pass to make things easier but I’ve decided that if I am going to pull off this trip on my meagre savings then I would need to save my cash.

I have just short of $10,000. Savings from ‘the brief time when I had a normal job’ and my freelance writing work for news publications like the The BBC.

I reckon I will be able to make a couple of hundred dollars a month by selling articles but for the most part – my savings now need to last me for the next two years.

My daily budget is going to be $30 a day; generous for countries such as Cambodia and India but tight for many of the countries I will be visiting.

I already know that I will run out of money but I am hoping I can travel for a year on my savings before I have to blag a teaching job or get work in a bar. Heck, by then, if my luck holds out, I might be able to get regular, well paying, writing work or get hired by someone to make inspirational travel videos whilst on the trip, that’s my dream.

I looked at my map. From the UK to PNG… it was a long way. The string tumbled and weaved as I plotted my route across Europe. I will leave the UK and head first to Belgium and Germany before heading down through Prague, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia; where I hope to have a crack at sailing.

Travel Route in Europe

From Croatia I will head into Bosnia, mysterious Montenegro, Albania and the sun kissed beaches of Greece before doubling back and making a run up to Serbia via Macedonia and misunderstood Kosovo.

I will spend my last few weeks in Europe exploring expansive Bulgaria and heading up through Turkey via the ruins of Cappadocia.

From Southern Turkey, it is simply a case of getting into Iran. Unfortunately there is nothing simple about the Iranian visa process but I am hopeful that I will be granted access.

So why exactly am I going on this trip?

I’m looking for something. I want to challenged, I want to learn, I want to explore.

I have no doubt that this trip will sometimes be extremely difficult – hostile border crossings, perilous peaks, choppy seas and limited funds – it isn’t going to be easy but it will be worth it.

I will stumble across real stories, crash with hippie communes and Tibetan yak herders. I’ll make far-flung  friends in far-flung lands, pitch my tent under a hundred perfect skies and thumb my way across India and into Myanmar. I want to get more tribal tattoos, the real deal, and sleep under the stars as I bob across the Indonesian ocean.

I want to get to the heart of destinations I have never heard of; I want to learn something, anything, about countries such as Bulgaria, Albania, Pakistan, Bhutan and Indonesia.

I’m 26. I have no house, no car, no recent job history and no real possessions. Many of my friends are engaged, having kids or getting married.

I am not ready to surrender to a life of normality.

I want to be surprised, inspired and challenged every day.

I want to travel.

The Broke Backpacker Travel Books

And I know where I want to go….

Please help support my adventure by sharing this with family and friends. I am planning on hitting the road on November 2nd and the more support I have; hell, the more I feel like I can pull this off.

Keen to know everything that goes on in Absurdistan? Follow me on Snapchat at wthatton

UPDATE: 18 months in. 

me on laptop


  • What an absolutely amazing adventure you’re on! Great work and I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey!

  • Avatar Dani B says:

    Hi Will, Hope everything is going OK and you havent had to do any backtracking. I am planning a similar trip to yours – except slightly different route next year. I was hoping you might be able to email me the name of the agency you used for your Pakistani visa….”Once I had my letter of invitation, I organised my visa through XXXX;” Im also quite keen to know how you got on at the India Myanmar border crossing…… Have found a few people who have completed it but no one recently. Travel safe and well, Cheers, Dani

    • Hey Dani! I’ve had to do a fair bit of backtracking so far; From India I crossed back to Iran via Pakistan again as those two countries were simply so awesome that I had to spend more time there! I sorted my Pakistan visa through VISAHQ in the UK, but Id recommend you avoid them. I have not yet crossed from India to Myanmar but have heard the crossing is very much open and fairly easy.

  • Avatar John says:

    Really good website. Without inspiring and courageous people like you I would probably still live in Germany and waste my time to an ideology which is living whith the results of other people´s thinking….and i´m here to check this messenger gadget for my own travelblog 😉
    Thanks Will

  • Hey! Getting married and having kids doesn’t mean you can’t travel you know! My kid is 5 and has been to almost 50 countries. We’re off to Central America for 3 months this year and as soon as his Dad finishes uni, we’ll be on the road indefinitely. You can have both!

    • I’m sure that is totally possible; however, in my situation, it isn’t. At the end of the day having kids means that costs go up and since I am already a budget backpacker, there isn’t really any room for that. Have an epic adventure, Nicaragua is the best country in Central America… 🙂

  • Will, love your blog. We are just starting our international journey (i’m backpacking with my two year old). Just wondering how you go about securing bodyguards?

    Aka The Bug Out Queen

  • Avatar Raheel Mughal says:

    Best of luck for your adventure . Pakistan awaits you 🙂

  • Avatar jon says:

    Are you going from Pakistan to China? If so you have to visit lake Karakul in Xinxiang. It’s on the Karakoram Hwy between the Pakistan border town of Tashkurgan and Kashgar in China

  • I admire what you do! See you at the Baliem Valley, Papua in August. Let’s visit the Dani tribe together… I would love to include you in my adventure video for this year.
    Jin Estioko Streetlife Photography

  • Will, I used to work for Bookers International and in the early 80s they took a green site in PNG (as we called it) and built the Ramu Sugar Company in the valley of the River Ramu. I worked as a secretary at first for the architect for all the housing and I remember being shocked that the manual workers just had round huts with straw roofs. I was told that they were very tribal and that was all that they required. Once it started in operation, it was difficult to convey to the workers that they had to turn up for work every day as this was a concept totally alien to them. Also, sometimes they went a bid ‘mad’ – I was told this was a result from eating human brains – cannibalism was still practised in the early 80s. If you get a chance to visit this sugar estate or get some news I would love to hear about how its doing! Good luck!

    Jill Golding

    • What an absolutely amazing experience! I can’t even imagine how crazy it was to be around people who actually still ate human brains – not just tales of their ancestors, but the people you were working with! Wow! I’ll keep you posted on my adventures when I finally arrive there, but I really can’t wait; it just seems like one of those places that isn’t nearly as touched by tourism, and I can’t wait to experience the true culture!

  • This is sick! We are planning on doing the same thing, but Indonesia to the UK starting next year! Can’t wait to follow your adventures and perhaps we’ll meet in the middle!

  • Avatar Zascha says:

    Can I join you?! 😀
    Have a wonderful journey, Will. I can’t wait to read much more about. Safe travels.

  • Avatar Rupeni Igara says:


    So my mate tagged me in your blog on Facebook about your journey to Papua New Guinea. I myself am Papua New Guinean. I am currently living in my home town Alotau, in the Milne Bay province. I also noted your interest in WW2. Milne Bay has a significant amount of history in regards to WW2 so when you hit PNG, you should try to come visit. So if you make it to my end of Papua New Guinea, feel free to contact me and I’ll see if I can help you out. I own a little lodge in the heart of Milne Bay, you should check it out on Facebook. It’s called ‘Alotau Waterfront Lodge’. But until that time, I wish you the best in your adventure.

    Rupeni Igara

  • As crazy as it sounds, am sure you can crack it :), we are planning to do the Tran-Mongolian next year, not as hard or arduous as your plans, but just a small step forward.

    Best of luck and stay safe and healthy.

  • Avatar Elia says:

    So cool!
    When you’re in Belgium & you need something: let me know.

  • Avatar Jasmine says:

    I love reading your website, especially at work doing the typical 9 to 5. I travelled a lot in my early twenties, then became bogged down in routine (although, there is value in that too) of daily life, going on the odd adventure every now and then. But my heart yearned to dust off the old backpack again… I have decided to rise above the constraints I felt by societies expections of what a 31 year old lady ‘should’ be doing and thanks to your inspiring posts, I have booked a one way ticket, to Asia with no set plans or agenda.. I cant wait! Im looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventures- keep them coming 🙂

  • What a fantastic sounding trip! Good luck with your adventures Will – I will be following your updates to see how you get on

  • Avatar Matt Baron says:

    Just came across your page, I’m really looking forward to reading your adventures. If you need any advice on Macedonia or Bosnia then I can try to help as I’ve visited these places this year.


  • Avatar Halida A. says:

    This sounds absolutely crazy! But I really hope u can pull this off. Stay healthy, stay away from the doctor and medical bills. Looking forward tofollowing your adventure. Two years from now you’ll be in Indonesia, and i hope u’ll have a great time!

  • Avatar Mike Crome says:

    My partner and I attempted a similar trip in 2011 – Norwich to Sydney with as few flights as possible. We went via Russia, Mongolia, China then mucked around in SE ASIA for several months. Best part was probably working our way along the Indonesian archipelago from Kilometre 1 on Pulah Wey, North Sumatra to Dili, East Timor where we flew to Darwin, hired a van and drove to Sydney. All together we took four flights of no more than 1 hour duration. It’s all possible to do, the biggest asset you can have (aside from a bit of money) is time… 2 years should do it, Bon Voyage!

  • Avatar helen says:

    I am English, married to a png an and we are moving back in January. We will make it there first…when you come to port moresby let me know… stay with us and help ignite the love of exploration in my kiddies. ..

    • That is an absolutely lovely offer and I will definitely be taking you up on it! It’ll be a couple of years but I’ll be there eventually and hell yes – I’ll teach your kids some wilderness skills if you like 🙂

  • Looks amazing! We’ll be following along!

  • Avatar Carly says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip! Indonesia is amazing, one of my favourite countries, if you get chance go to Tana Toraja in Sulawesi and if you scuba dive there’s some of the best diving I’ve ever done in Indonesia, don’t miss Komodo national park.

  • Rock on Will!!! That will be an awesome adventure! I was actually thinking about doing something kind of similar (going overland from Greece to Vietnam), but it’s not in the cards just yet… maybe on my way back West.
    I’m really looking forward to following your adventure for inspiration and tips for my trip, I wish I could join you! Have a blast and safe travels

  • Avatar Tara says:

    Wow, what an amazing journey. I guess part of the fun is not knowing what to expect. I’ll be following along with you on your adventure. Wish I was a millionaire so I could pitch in, but it wasn’t in the cards. Good luck!

  • Avatar Samantha says:

    People like you inspire me to roam. Cannot wait to see photos of your adventure. 🙂

  • Hope to see you soon here in the Philippines! Cheers

  • Avatar Rohit Chandra Joshi says:

    I will Soon be walking on your step 🙂
    Eagerly waiting.
    Wish you all luck and adventure.
    Will be following you throughout this beautiful journey.

  • Avatar Lourdes says:

    Good luck on the epic trip. Looking forward to read all about it.

  • Avatar gwen alvarez says:

    if you happen to drop by the phillipines, please come to cagayan de oro. its in the southern part of the philippines. 🙂

  • Avatar Jub says:

    Mate, this looks like an epic trip. Looking forward to the blog posts and following along. Visa’s applications are the most excited part :p

  • Avatar Inez says:

    So brave! If you need any help in Belgium let me know! 😀

  • Avatar Aiden Heng says:

    this is so inspiring and incredible experience! try more adventure stuff like skydiving, cliff jumping etc. make videos for every adventure journey you had if possible and shared with your fans or any audience in this world! share the experience with us! you’re awesome

  • Awesome plans! Hope we’ll meet on the road!

  • Avatar Luzelle Ignacio says:

    Your statements inspire me to pursue my dream to travel the world especially those “dangerous” countries you’ve mention above. Well.. Media.. Ill be following you along! Good luck Will!!

  • Wow, sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to go to PNG as well. I’m hoping to visit next year. Can’t wait to watch your trip!

  • Most of my friends wouldn’t want to go to PNG, because of negative impressions about the country. I get more curious about it. In case I would visit, I hope someone will come with me.

  • Avatar Rein says:

    The travel would be better if you would like to add a twist on your next travel. Doing it solo is becoming main stream nowadays for most travellers out there. Why not try travelling with a complete random stranger. Enjoy the art of travelling with someone you don’t know Meet new people, eat unfamiliar foods, go broke while on travel. I think this would be a great experience.

  • I think I am more excited about your journey, then you are lol.

    What an absolute blast this will be.

    The beautiful sights the different cultures, the different foods, and the many friends you will make. Be sure to record as much as you possibly can, I want to see it all 🙂

  • Avatar Nicole says:

    This is AWESOME! Sounds like you’ve got a crazy adventure ahead of you and I’m excited to follow along. PNG has been high up on my list of places to see as well as a few others you’ll be traversing. Best of luck!

  • Avatar Erica says:

    This sounds amazing! I am just starting my Master’s in Anthropology in Germany and then am planning on heading on a similar journey when I finish, however I have yet to decide what my final destination will be. If you want company in Germany feel free to send me a message!

  • Avatar Sherwin Losito says:

    Nice amazing adventure.when you touch the philippines let us know, me and my team backpackers archive is willing to take you in any amazing places here in my country. Our headquarters is open to every backpackers.

  • Avatar Melanie Medroso says:

    Let me know if you’ll hit manila, Philippines I’ll assist you.

  • Avatar Bonn Troy Ma. Boñola says:

    If you ever had a chance to visit the Philippines just let me know. You’ll have warm food to eat and a bed to sleep.

  • Avatar Rjan says:

    If u need help while you’re in the Philippines.. 🙂

  • Avatar B says:

    Hi! So I grew up in West Papua (the Indonesian side of New Guinea) and I go back there fairly frequently. If you’re travelling overland, it’s probably best/ safest to cross into PNG from WP at the Northern border crossing near Vanimo. You may also run into a few issues with Indonesian officials who don’t want foreigners, especially writers, going to WP. Anyway, if you need any advice about making your way through that part of the world, then I’m happy to help.

  • Avatar Adam says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I look forward to hearing all about it.

    I did a similar trip last year – Northern Ireland to Singapore overland was the plan – cheated a little bit toward the end and got a couple of short flights in SE Asia due to running low on time before I had to be home in Sydney for a wedding.

    My route was north – via Trans-Siberian, but would love to follow a similar route to you – perhaps going back to the UK.

    I’ll definitely be following you along your adventure. Enjoy!

  • Avatar Mike Riddle says:

    Will this is awesome! It’s great to see someone as well traveled as you are, getting excited, planing big and dreaming big. I’m looking forward to reading all your future posts.

  • Avatar mar says:

    well, that is a huge adventure! if you hit Singapore, let me know, you have a couch to sleep on!

  • Will, I’m crossing my fingers for you and sharing your adventures my friend.

    Your route is very similar to the one I had in mind, but starting in Portugal and going to Papua New Guinea. I will probably head in that direction too next year.

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