Interview: Wandering Earl, World Traveller Since 1999

Wandering Earl on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

Interview by Isabel Clift

Earl’s been travelling the world for 12 years without stopping, documenting it all on his blog WanderingEarl.com. He’s also just been noted in TIME as one of the top 27 bloggers of 2012. We had a quick chat to find out how he funds his travels and get his advice for budding nomads…

You’ve been travelling the world since 1999. How have you made a living?

When I first started travelling, I taught English in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The next stage in life involved working as a Tour Manager on board cruise ships on and off for several years and once I decided to leave ships for good back in 2010, I started working online full time. These days, I earn a living through my blog, the sales of travel-related eBooks that I’ve written as well as affiliate marketing.

I’ve also started offering small group tours to various destinations around the world and am always working on new online projects in order to ensure that I’ll be able to continue travelling for many years to come.

Travel is a luxury to many. How do you keep costs down?

What many people don’t realise is that certain aspects of travel, such as accommodation and transportation, are not nearly as expensive as one might imagine. A great example is hostels of course, where beds inside of dorm rooms can cost as little as a few dollars per night.

And these are typically not run-down establishments either… most hostels strive to offer their guests a clean, unique, fun and social atmosphere which many travellers quickly become addicted to. And at $5 or $10 per night, staying at hostels can keep you on the road for a very long time when you compare that to $50 or $100 per night to stay at a larger hotel.

As for transportation, all it takes is hopping onto a local bus instead of a private bus, taking a ride in a second class train and not in the first class compartment or flying with a local low-cost carrier instead of a major international airline and suddenly, you’ll discover that travelling between destinations does not have to be such a bank account-draining expense.

lf you stick to these cheaper options, you’ll quickly understand how so many people are able to travel around the world for such long periods of time without going broke!

What’s your favourite hostel?

My favorite hostel on the planet is the Dream Hostel in Tampere, Finland as it is absolutely the definition of a ‘perfect hostel’. From the second you walk in, you realize that this is not an ordinary hostel as the owners have taken comfort, design, friendliness, atmosphere and safety to an entirely new level.

From the mattresses to the luxury spa-like showers, wonderful common area, free activities, ideal location, fun atmosphere and dedicated staff, it’s the kind of place you simply don’t want to leave.

… And your favourite destination?

My favorite destination is India as there is simply no other country that I’ve visited where a traveller can hear, taste, smell and see things every minute of every day that they’ve never before experienced in their entire life.

Shave in India, wandering Earl Interview

You’re leading your first small budget tour group this November. What’s going to happen?

The first tour will be a 19-day excursion around North India. The idea is to offer a way for people to get a feel for independent travel while enjoying the support of a small group tour. These tours do not use private buses or four-star hotels and we don’t drive around every city in air-conditioned jeeps.

We use public transportation, we stay in budget accommodation and we eat at local restaurants, always planning each day as we see fit when we wake up, just as I would do if I was backpacking around on my own. So, for those who want to learn how to travel or to get comfortable with backpacking before setting off into the world by themselves, these tours were designed specifically for you!

The first tour actually sold out in less than two days and as a result, I’ll be offering a tour to Mexico next March as well as a tour to Romania/Turkey over the summer and another trip to India towards the end of 2013.

Any more exciting plans?

After this first tour of India, November 1 – 19, 2012, I’ll be heading out for some solo adventures throughout India seeking even more unusual and remote places to share on my travel blog. Then on December 22nd in Chennai, India, I’ve been invited to give a motivational speech at TEDx Talks entitled “The Road Not Taken” to be broadcast over the internet. You can look for it on their FB site or the event’s actual website.

TEDxCEG Wandering Earl talk

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Just find a way to get started! As daunting as it may seem to leave your current life behind and start off on such a seemingly unconventional adventure, I can honestly tell you that taking that first step is by far the most difficult part.

Once you’ve made the decision and booked your first flight to a new destination, you will start to discover an endless world of opportunities, opportunities that not only allow you to continue exploring the globe for as long as you wish, but opportunities that you would never even know exist had you not started travelling.

There’s a reason why nobody regrets travel and that fact alone should convince you to go after your own travel goals as soon as you can!

Thanks for talking with us, Earl…

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