Almost two years ago I was browsing reddit in my room of my parents home when I came across the above picture and something hit me right in the gut.
A bit of backstory – when I was 18 (or probably younger) I had dreams of travelling the world, being a backpacker and meeting loads of people. Going on adventures and having stories to tell when I got back. My issue was that I was an introvert. I wouldn’t say I was a complete shut-in or anything but I found it awkward to make conversation with anyone but my friends. I’d get nervous, anxious. This has been a trait that has been with me pretty much my entire life so you can imagine that the dream of travelling the world to me was just that to me – a dream. I was hitting 29 and I’d pretty much accepted that this was who I was as a person and that it would never happen. I’d get married, get a mortgage, eventually have kids etc. etc.
And then I saw this picture – a redditor smoking in a hammock overlooking an amazing view in Thailand. I looked at the rest of his GoPro pictures he posted in the comments section and I get emotional. I found myself for the first time becoming immersed in the images and pictured myself being there, doing all those things, meeting all those people – but then I start tearing up. I knew that it was my personality, my fear of going out there alone and being alone that was holding me back from ever doing those things.
I sent a message to the user on reddit telling him about my reaction, my fears and my desire that was reignited by the picture he posted. In his response, he recommended that I watch the backpacker documentary “A Map For Saturday”, and slowly I began implanting the idea in my head that this was possible. I didn’t want to quit my job and drop everything but I had the opportunity to take 3 weeks off and maybe dip my toe in the water to see where it takes me. Throughout the year I began saving my holidays, keeping those 3 weeks free for the remote possibility that I will do it. I work throughout Christmas still not having booked my time off or booked my ticket to Thailand. I sent another message to the reddit user a full 8 months later asking him some questions to try and put my mind at ease. I ask about accommodation – do I stay in hotels (hint: no) or hostels? (answer: YES YES YES). How easy is it to travel around and book tickets to get everywhere? (answer: very, very easy). Where would he go if he only had 3 weeks? I get a response in kind with a bunch of tips answering everything I questioned along with practically an entire itinerary of where to go, what to do, what hostels to stay at etc. At this point it was 2 weeks before my holidays were due to start and I bite the bullet. I book the ticket.
It was the best decision of my life. Those 3 short weeks that I had travelling in Thailand were completely life-changing for me. In the time I was there, I met more fun, kind, happy, beautiful people then ever before. I realised how easy it was talking to like-minded people, 80% of which were also travelling alone and wanted to interact and share experiences just as much as I did. I opened up to people as they were not like anyone I’ve met in my home town – or even my country. This was the revelation to me – I based my personality on the interactions I had with the same people for the past two decades of my life. I’d hardly met many other people aside from those inside my circle of friends. I found that I enjoyed drinking beer, listening to music and talking to these people in the hostels as much as, if not MORE then the activities I did in Thailand. And I did things that sound like a fucking fairytale in my mind – like chill and watch the stars with a Uruguayan girl I’d met at a hostel in Koh Lanta while listening to Sigur Ros and Pink Floyd – and then stay up all night and grab a tuk-tuk (Thai taxi) to race the sun to the closet viewpoint to catch it rise (we made it by the way). I also rode an elephant, white-water rafted, drove a moped (all in Chiang Mai), as well as snorkled, rock climbed, swam at night with glowing plankton… all for the first time.
When I say that those 3 weeks had been life changing I really mean it. Before that trip I had been coasting along in life with a job I’d been at for the past 3 years going nowhere – but it was comfortable. It paid well, it was super-easy and as I still lived with my parents, practically everything I earned was disposable income. I could have easily stuck with it, coasting along for next decade of my life. But on that trip, while on a beach in Koh Lanta just 10 or so days into my trip, I decided that I was going to quit my job and go travel for longer… of course I would, why would I do anything else? I wanted more. I had new ambition now. I wanted to meet more people. I wanted to experience more in my life. That was my only regret of my trip – that I didn’t have more time. I met some amazing people that I wanted to spend more time with but had to move from place to place to try and see as much as I could – but I needed those 3 weeks to see what I’d been missing, and what me as a person needed to experience for the longest time.
So here I am now, 14 months later sitting in the first hostel of my trip after quitting my job as I plan to travel through Central and South America, before heading back to Asia to complete two backpacker trails – and I want those of you reading this right now to experience it with me. Over the next several months, I’ll be posting as many pictures, videos, Snapchats, stories and more as I can to share this journey that I’m on with you – hopefully to inspire others to do the same.
I posted this story on the same reddit board that I discovered the picture above on and got some incredible responses which I’ll share below:
My favourite response however was from an Austrain guy who messaged me 6 or so months after I posted on reddit telling me that after seeing my story and reading the original one that inspired my trip to Thailand, he actually did the same and had as amazing an experience as I did.
It’s messages like these that make me believe I can inspire others to do the same and turn their dreams and desires of travelling into workable realities. If I can convince just one other person to do the same as I have then this blog will have been a success to me.
So I’ve picked the name for this blog (360Backpacking.com) because I hope to provide a unique perspective to others that other travel blogs have yet to do – I purchased a 360 degree camera for my trip which has enabled me to post videos and pictures such as this one from my first stop-off in Cancun:
Hit the full-screen button on the right and drag this image around – you’ll notice that you have a complete 360 degree view of everything that was around me when I took this picture. No framing, no picking-the-best-looking angle – just a complete, unfiltered, immersive view of the landscapes and locations I’ll be visiting. I’ll also be posting a download link of all my images and videos also so you can view them in any compatible VR (Virtual Reality) device such as the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive (please note I’m still working out how to get the 360 images to view better on mobile devices).
So join me on my journey as I begin a trip of a lifetime to see the world. See you on the next post.