Why do I travel?

Published on:ย May 19, 2015

Yesterday a good friend of mine said something to me which got me thinking…

‘I get what you do and I respect it but why do you travel, what’s the actual reason that keeps you on the road with no desire to settle?’

I stumbled, never before having to justify my choice to travel. Most people just assume I travel because it’s fun but actually, it’s more complicated than that.

The short answer; when I travel I can do whatever I want.

The long answer; when I travel I can be whatever I want.

My first foray into travelling was an unhappy one, I came back a broken kid, desperately sick and with my dreams shattered into a thousand pieces. Everything I had wanted was snatched away from me. As a young lad, 19, I had just been getting to grips with the kind of person I had wanted to be and suddenly, without warning, that person was killed in action.

My dreams of joining the marines, fighting for a cause (I didn’t even care what) and exploring the world with a rifle slung over one shoulder? Done. Gone. Over.

I would never be a marine. Not after my injury.
I descended into a downwards spiral of drinking and fighting.
I had been a shy kid my whole life but I had been working hard to change myself for the better, to improve my confidence and find a purpose in life; with my plan to join the marines wrested away, I had to start all over again.

A lonely year passed whilst I leant heavily on my parents and a few bored friends for support. Gradually, my injured leg began to heal but it would never be back to normal. Mentally, I was in trouble – paranoid, depressed and down-right miserable. I continuously put myself in dangerous situations for no reason other than to feel something a bit different. One day, I woke up and something had changed. In a moment of beautiful clarity, a single thought entered my mind ‘start again, build something new or give up and die’ – within an hour I had booked a one way ticket to India. Why India? It was big, far away and cheap…

Festival in Pushkar India

I hit the road, unsure of myself but certain that if this did not work, that would be it. This was a redeeming shot, a chance at something new; I would give it my all, I would grab it by the throat, charge in all guns blazing, it was do or die. The time had come to make a change, my current plane was crashing and burning; now I had to jump out of it and steer myself towards something new.

But what was it to be? What did I want out of my life? In truth, I still wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be inspiring. Before I could inspire anyone however, I would have to inspire myself. I began to make a list of the qualities I admired in others and the actions I needed to take. I scrawled the following in my notebook.

Positivity
Ambition
Integrity
Confidence
Physical Fitness
Quit drinking (stop fighting)
Open up (lower my defences)
Do something scary once a week (talk to a stranger?)
Inspire myself (and others?)

Positivity; the most important thing on my list and the hardest to fake; everything had been so shit for so long that my knee-jerk reaction to anything new, anything unexpected, was to be negative. This needed to change. I began simply by pretending. Before I made any remark, before I responded to any situation, I thought about how my alter-ego would handle himself.

Quickly, far quicker than I would have imagined possible, I become a positive person – sure, I still got annoyed by things but my tolerance was way higher. In general, I smiled, laughed and just got on with it. People started to gravitate towards me, I was approachable, friendly, fun… Now, I needed to be inspiring.

How do you inspire? You put yourself in situations where you are scared, uncomfortable or in danger and then, you conquer your fear. You complete a challenge. I headed into the mountains, alone. I crossed deserts. I bagged peaks. I traversed jungles. I got stoned with wandering holy men. I faced down a robber armed with a 10 inch knife. I taught myself how to ride motorbikes, I scraped myself off the road. I scrambled up waterfalls and threw myself from cliffs. I lived alone, with no contact with the outside world, for weeks at a time. I snuck past border guards, drank tea with rebels, I camped in abandoned temples, I fired a Kalashnikov into the sky, I made new friends and found a new purpose.

My travels spanned years and continents, I survived by picking up odd-jobs, by hitching rides, couch-surfing in unlikely countries and buying and selling trinkets. I felt like a Victorian-era explorer; I headed to countries many people had never even heard of, the more extreme, the more off the beaten track, the more I was interested.

From Venezuela to Palestine and Myanmar to the Western Sahara, my adventures have taken me on one hell of a journey. The end result? I became aย person I like, most of the time. Every now and again, I even inspire others to shake up their lives a bitย – for me, this is my greatest accomplishment.

The Broke Backpacker in the Cheapest Country in the World

Exploring Venezuela; the cheapest country in the world!

Travelling the world has changed my life, my personality was forged upon the road. I am a passionate believer that everybody has the power to change their life and that travelling offers one of the best opportunities around for self-growth.

So, why am I still travelling? Originally, it was for me – I wanted to become something new.

In 2015, it’s because I want to continue to learn.

I travel not to tick off passport stamps but to explore new cultures, new vibes and new points of view. Only by continuing to challenge myself physically and mentally, can I continue to evolve. Would I change how things have panned out? Would I reverse time and undo my injury. Never.

This is who I am.

From my greatest adversity came my greatest opportunity.

Peace, out.

2017 Update: I’m continuing to learn cool new shit on the road and to meet inspiring new people. My goals have changed a bit as I am now focussing on building a large online income and recording everything over at Ditch Your Desk to provide newbie digital nomads with plenty of free information on how they too can earn money online. Eventually, I hope to delete social media and take a break from this website so I can hit the road and travel without a phone; a luxury that I miss. For me, travelling is about really connecting with people and places and that can be tough whilst running an online business – on the other hand, this is hand’s down one of the best jobs in the world…

25 Comments

  • “The short answer; when I travel I can do whatever I want.

    The long answer; when I travel I can be whatever I want.”

    Beautiful mate!

  • TJ says:

    Wonderful piece man! You are definitely a big inspiration to me.

  • Nick says:

    Going on my first backpacking trip in 2 weeks. Without blogs like yours, I’m not sure I ever would be leaving the US on my own, and I’m sure I’m not the only one you’ve inspired.

  • Amazing post man. It reminds me of a time I was grabbing a cup of coffee in Laos, and started chatting with this girl. It was all small talk, and then she asked, “So what are you searching for?” Such a broad a question, but really made me think about the reasons behind my nomadic lifestyle, and you brought up all these in this post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Aaron Tungcod says:

    hi. Love reading your blogs about traveling. I started now dreaming to do what you’re doing. Im a living proof that your mission to inspire someone is your greatest accomplishment.

  • Aly says:

    I love this. I don’t think I’ve seen a post that so perfectly captures the beauty of traveling. The ideas of building something new and being whoever you want completely puts into words what’s so difficult to otherwise express. Travel can be scary, but maybe it’s why the person I am when I travel is the version of me I like best.

  • Dianne Carla Antonio says:

    You inspire me. I hope in the near future I get to do what you are doing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rista says:

    Hi.. its really nice post. I have been travel for this two year, but only for a week or two. I always want to leave my job and live like you do but it still scare me.. Hopefully someday i will be able to do that..

  • Zascha says:

    Will, you have definitely inspired me along the way! I may not be able (or brave enough) to do some of the things that you do, but I love hearing about your adventures.

  • Chris Taylor says:

    Very inspiring Will. I hope I will be able to see the world at some point.

  • Hans Warschau says:

    Love what you do, traveling across the world. But after reading this post and get to the part of the picture where you are holding Bolivares and a 100 dolar bill it caught my atention the text “Exploring Venezuela; the cheapest country in the world!” sadly for a person who lives here the story is very very different. Hyperinflation is killing us. So a more appropiate text would be “Exploring Venezuela; the cheapest country in the world for a tourist with foreing currency”.

    • Will Hatton says:

      Hi Hans, I understand your point; I truly do, I’ve written several articles about Venezuela and tried to cover the political situation in detail but this is a travel blog… it’s for foreigners who are visiting or trying to explore a country, it’s not supposed to be written from a locals point of view.. if it was, it would be about England ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rose McDowell says:

    Really enjoyed reading this post ๐Ÿ™‚ I am about to set off on my own adventure having sold everything and quit my job – I go in 3 weeks time and for the first time I am travelling alone to explore the world. Yes I am scared but also excited and I know that I will grow as a person and hopefully meet some amazing people.

  • Flora Baker says:

    “Before I could inspire anyone however, I would have to inspire myself.” A great line to live by – and I’m amazed I haven’t come across your site before now, Will! Here’s to much more adventuring ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Aaron Brooks says:

    Well done Will. Great read! I’m finally going to travel Southeast Asia for 4-5-? months. You mentioned fitness in this article. Any advice on staying fit while on this adventure? Thanks!

  • mathieu tallard says:

    I went to Venezuela a couple of years ago. Everything was perfect until i got attack and rob of everything. I am scare to go back. It happen along side a road at 4 in afternoon. The exchange rate was very good. It is even better today and the risk to be attack must be near certitude.

    Where else can i go to live like a king. I travel for sun, sea, sand , sex, and i need full tan. Absolutely allergic to swimsuite. Mathieu

    • Will Hatton says:

      Every country has its risks my friend! I absolutely love Venezuela, but sometimes things can go wrong wherever you are! I’d definitely also check out Nicaragua if I were you – beautiful and cheap once again!

  • mathieu tallard says:

    Going back to Venezuela is crazy no? I travel on a homemade scooter. not in a box like taxi or bus. All my luggages are exposed. And people knows we have money on us.

    • Will Hatton says:

      That’s so cool that you travel on a homemade scooter! And while having everything exposed can be intimidating, you’re definitely doing things in a bad ass way! Stay awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

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