Wandering Earl epitomizes the runaway budget backpacker. He started backpacking in 1999 and hasn’t stopped since. He has traveled to over 80 countries, including Iraq and even Afghanistan. With each new country comes a new adventure and a new riveting article on his blog.
It is an honor and privilege to welcome one of the most premier travel bloggers and runaways the world has ever encountered. Without further ado, this is Runaway Rendezvous with Wandering Earl.
1) How did you convince your parents or did you simply “run away”?
At first I planned to be away for only 3 months and so it was quite easy to convince my parents to let me go on such a trip. But once I realized that 3 months wasn’t sufficient and that I wanted travel to play a much larger role in my life, my parents simply thought I was nuts. They thought that such a decision to travel long-term was a waste and that I was throwing away my education. And so, since I couldn’t convince them, I had to just take a deep breath, believe in myself and try to achieve my goals anyway. I guess that means I had to run away at first!
2) How did you find the courage to run away and travel the world?
To be honest, I have no idea. All I do know is that I suddenly felt so strongly about needing to find a way to turn travel into an actual lifestyle that I knew I would do whatever it took to make it a reality. I just knew inside that if I followed my heart and took off into the unknown, things would work out in the end. There was no debating it at all. And so I just made the decision to give up the 9-5 lifestyle that I was originally planning to return to and instead, to see where this new adventure would lead.
3) What was your first step? How did you prepare?
My first step was to try and talk with as many other people as I could. I wanted to meet other travelers, to talk with locals, to converse with absolutely anyone and everyone. My theory was that the more people I spoke with while overseas, the more I would learn about how others were able to survive and the more ideas I would get as to how I could make a life out of travel. I think I spent a good month while in Cambodia and Vietnam just talking with strangers and in the end, it worked as I learned about endless opportunities that exist in the world, opportunities that would allow me to achieve my goals.
4) How much money did you bring with you on your first trip?
All I had was $1500 to my name when I arrived in Bangkok for my first trip. But since I thought I would only be away for 3 months, that seemed like enough. Once I decided to travel long-term instead, that’s when I realized that $1500 wasn’t going to last too long and I needed to find a way to earn some more while still being able to stay overseas.
I would say both India and Indonesia are two of the cheapest countries for budget backpackers to visit. It’s very possible to travel for less than $10 USD per day, or even less, in these two destinations. With that said, these two countries can be challenging for the first-time traveler and so other places such as Thailand or Turkey or Eastern Europe, while more expensive than India or Indonesia, might be better options to get started as they all offer a remarkable value.5) In you’re opinion, which country is the cheapest for the runaway budget backpacker?
Now for a few less orthodox questions
6) What is the strangest place you have ever “done it” (not on your own) during your travels?
Probably outside on a mountain some 3500 meters high just behind a small village and overlooking a beautiful valley in the Indian Himalayas, complete with cows, goats and monkeys standing nearby watching us the entire time.
7) Have you ever soiled your pants during your travels?
Not fully. The closest I came was when I was in a remote village in the Kashmir region of India and I woke up in the middle of the night with REALLY bad stomach issues. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the bathroom (which was down a long hall and then down a set of stairs in the very budget guesthouse I was staying at) and so I woke up my girlfriend at the time and told her to grab a plastic bag. And yes, she held the plastic bag while I tried to ensure everything landed inside. I’d say I was 50% successful with that, but after it was over, we woke up the entire guesthouse with our laughter.
8) What does McDonalds mean to you?
Not much. I personally don’t eat there, whether in the US or while traveling, but it doesn’t matter to me if others eat there. I just don’t like the food and prefer to eat a bit healthier but to each their own.
9) What is your policy on breaking wind on planes, trains and in hostels?
I’m not a fan of listening to other travelers pass gas but of course, we all need to break wind. So as long as you keep it quiet, it’s alright with me. And I try my very best to do the same, and am usually successful.
10) What’s the one thing you would tell an aspiring runaway backpacker?
There are more opportunities out there than you can could ever imagine that will allow you to travel for as long or as much as you wish. If you think otherwise and end up giving up on your travel goals, the only thing that is certain is that you will regret such a decision later on in life. And nobody wants to live a life full of regrets!
To learn more about Earl, his life, and adventures, you can check him out on his blog, Wandering Earl.