Who is this person writing you tips? Where do they come from? Why should I read his stuff?
These are 3 questions I would ask myself before listening to someone trying to convince me that what they have to say is useful, and to justify buying their book.
So, lets begin.
Born in London to wealthy aristocratic parents, Nathaniel Clark showed an aptitude at a young age for reading, writing, poetry, and caligraphy. Excelling from an early age in violin and archery and with a natural penchant for all skills and studies he was a very fortunate individual… and cut!
So the London parts true… and there it stops. Well that’s my name too, to be fair, albeit it I go by Nate nowadays…
I grew up in Australian Suburbia, went to state (public) school, like the majority of Australian kids. My parents were lower middle class and all I could ask for in terms of love nurture. They had travelled much in their youth which probably gave me the interest and reduced my feeling of what was ‘socially responsible’ which helped allow me to take the travelling path.
I did all the normal things kids do, I hung out at shopping centers and went to computer gaming centers, I played soccer and tennis, even dabbled in cricket, until the balls started whistling past (and into me) at much to fast a rate.
I did OK at school, a fairly solid B+ student, marks good enough to get me into what I wanted to do (that being geology). Geology interested me, it was a natural science and I got to be outside a lot which I loved. I went into it straight after school rather than having a gap year. I had toyed with the idea but I was only 17 and the idea of travelling before I could drink put me off a bit.
So into my uni degree I dived and did the usual uni student things, house parties for most of the first year before I could legally hit the bars and clubs… I got very drunk on numerous occasions in my 18th and 19th years. A chipped tooth was the worst of the damage though which I consider a success. Uni sailed by, and I got once again OK marks, 5’s and 6’s mainly.
I fit in a trip to Nepal and India after my 18th birthday which my dad and brother did with me. Going to these places (especially to India) for 6 weeks was an incredibly eye opening experience. Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been so open… for example when i woke up Christmas morning on a rattly old train from Ghoktapur to Delhi to look out the window at a bunch of Indians doing their morning squats (this is not a workout, they were taking a dump…). The travel bug started to itch me from this experience. The rich culture of both countries and the amazing landscapes of Nepal combined with the hustle and bustle of India was an incredible experience.
I came back to university and fell back into society’s expectations and finished off my course when I was 20. There was a heavy expectation to go on to do an honours or Masters and coupled with being somewhat lovesick on a girl I decided to stay and do my masters. I did fit in a trip to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro after the undergraduate degree with two of my good friends from university. My young naive self even managed to spend over 8000 Aussie dollars for that trip Knowing that now stings a bit considering the past the first year of my travel have cost me less than that, and the second year of my travel I’ve came out with that much in the positive! It was a fun trip though even if it was more about conquering something together with my friends (in this case Kilimanjaro), than really travelling, and seeing what there is to see. I didn’t get amongst the people, I didn’t feel the culture and the atmosphere properly, I was a tourist, and I’m disappointed I didn’t make more of the opportunity of being in Tanzania and Kenya. Don’t take this disappointment for not liking the trip though! I’m not upset, Kilimanjaro is a stunning mountain and spending several weeks with my good friends Pete and Chris was awesome 🙂
So, then came the Masters. In a way it all blurred together and went quick, in another way it was a grind that felt like it would never end By the time I finished I was so done with it and university life. The next ‘right’ thing to do was to go to work. I mean, I’d finished my degree, the next step was a job, then house, then wife, then kids right? My job begin, and I was working fly in fly out of Fiji, what a deal! It was great fun and I had a good team around me to boot! Getting to travel to a foreign country and the option of having a week off in it were pretty cool. Where I worked though was probably where I actually got the best taste of Fiji life and culture being in the middle of the island surrounded by small villages that still lived very similarly to how they had the past few hundred years. After Fiji my company moved me to the outback (in the Pilbara in WA), where I worked in an Underground Mine. It wasn’t bad, and having some great colleagues was definitely a life saver. The mining industry has the second highest suicide rate in Australia and at times I definitely see why. It can be a very depressing environment being underground a large part of your day, and mines often seem to breed miserable, grumpy, gruff people. Not that all of them were mind you, just a larger proportion than I’d have liked!
I moved to the last mine I worked at after that. By this time I was seriously re-considering my life. I always had felt a strong desire to just buy a one way ticket somewhere and let the world carry me, relying on my instincts and just generally myself to get me by. The best way to learn sometimes is throwing yourself in the deep end. So when I was offered a redundancy I thought this was the sign the world had given me. I’d had lots of chances (after school, after my undergraduate degree), but I’d always looked the other way. This time I decided to go. At the back of my mind I thought maybe I’d find some geology work in Canada so I bought a one way ticket to Vancouver and so began the next chapter of my life. Once I started travelling and realised the industry wasn’t really doing to well in Canada (like the rest of the world) I just went with the flow more. I opened myself up to other travellers guidance and stories. I learned much from 19 year old gap yearers, grey nomads and seasoned travellers from Europe, the UK, Japan and Australia. Let your mind be a sponge one of them once told me, soak in as much as you can. This line of thought really helped me and I learnt so much as I went with an open book attitude.
One of the tips I got was to try Wwoofing, and I did! I worked on a farm and met two amazing people, a Belgian friend who I still contact regularly and we still do little trips together from time to time that I had the pleasure of travelling with for over a month. Such a calm persona that helped me become a calmer person. To worry less about societies expectations and just to go with the flow. I met and fell for an Austrian girl too who bought a van with me and we went from the west to the east across Canada, so many moments I’ll never forget 🙂
Traveling solo I feel is the best way to travel, but that doens’t mean you travel alone. Experiences shared are better than those by yourself a lot of the time. And the majority of the time i’ve been a ‘solo’ traveller I haven’t been solo at all! Because you meet people and you travel with them for a time. I travelled with my Belgian friend for a month and the Austrian girl for 4 months. I travelled with a mish mash group of travellers in america for 3 weeks and an canadian girl for 3 weeks. All this is my 7 months in North America! Flexibility is king and solo travel gives you that. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hit the road with your partner or friend either, its just a point that you should have no fear of travelling alone 🙂
Anyway… I’m getting off track now. I like to think from reading this though you can see I was an average kid with an average upbringing (at least welfare wise). The majority of the people from the western world have the opportunity to travel, don’t see money as a limitation, you really don’t need that much! You can travel on a shoe string if you truly want too. If seeing the world is your dream, if experiencing all it has to offer in terms of landscapes and different cultures is what you want, then do it. Don’t wait any longer, buy that ticket (read my blogs or buy my book first for how to get a cheaper one 😉 ) and go! Life always has a way of figuring itself out 🙂