Earl is one of the authority when it comes to long term backpacking. Hel left his home last December 25, 1999 and has been on the road ever since.
His most recent trip to Iraq (together with Anil of Foxnomad) fascinated me the most. Iraq has been known to be one of the most dangerous place in the planet as of this time because of the war and yet these two guys managed to travel in the Northern Side of Iraq. It’s such a big feat for travellers.
Learn more about Earl and visit him at Wandering Earl
Here’s Flip’s short interview with Earl.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“During the millennium celebrations, I sat on an ancient wall surrounding the magnificent Angkor Wat temple in the jungle of Cambodia. It was only the fifth day of my first backpacking trip and as I looked around me at the groups of Buddhist monks, at the incredible food being served from makeshift food stalls, at the lanterns floating in the sky and at the surreal temples in every direction, I knew right then and there that travel was going to play a major role in my life.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“When I was working on board a cruise ship as a Tour Manager, a passenger once threatened to kill me and sure enough, the next day, he was caught by the security officers trying to bring a machete, hunting knife, mace and other interesting items back on board the ship. Unfortunately, US immigration refused to take the man into custody and so I was stuck with him on board the ship for a week and had to move around with a security escort at all times. This was one of the only times that I actually feared for my life.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“This would be a toss up between the night I unexpectedly ended up hanging out with a group of Taliban in the mountains of northern Pakistan or the time I was kidnapped by a gang of taxi drivers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. And I tend to associate ‘best’ with ‘memorable’, so despite any fear that I might have felt in each of the above situations, they both proved to be some of the most memorable experiences of my life.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“Just like you and me, the overall majority of people around the world, no matter where or how they live, are in search of a happy, peaceful existence while on this planet.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“Despite the exhaustion, despite the constant moving around from place to place and the lack of a home base, I am addicted to the first-hand education that travel provides. Nothing is more rewarding to me than traveling far beyond my comfort zone in order to discover how other people live and to then use the knowledge I gain to re-shape my views on the world. I can’t imagine a life without that constant, eye-opening education and that’s why I’m still as excited to travel now as I was when I began 11 years ago.”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
“I’m not too sure really. Perhaps someone like George Carlin in order to guarantee that I would be laughing often, or maybe Kurt Vonnegut, whose humanist interpretation of everything we would encounter while traveling would be something I’d be quite interested in learning about. Unfortunately, both have passed on so I don’t see it happening any time soon!”
Where’s your favourite place in this planet and why?
“Well, as much of a beach person as I am, one of my favorite places (it’s impossible to pick one) is actually the tiny village of Kalpa, located in the Kinnaur Valley of the Indian Himalayas. I believe the village is about 3000 meters above sea level but the massive 6000 meter Kinnaur Kailash mountain is directly in front, creating one of the most dramatic and awesome landscapes I’ve ever seen. And the local Kinnauri people, who practice a unique mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism, are about as hospitable and kind as can be, helping make this a destination that I love to return to every time I have a chance.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?
Just start as soon as possible. Once you get out on the road, you will be exposed to a world of life-changing opportunities that you never even knew existed, so the sooner you take the first step, the sooner you’ll enjoy the benefits!
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
“The funniest thing, at least to me, was when I acted in a Hindi soap opera during one of my visits to Mumbai. It all happened quite randomly but I ended up playing the role of a British police officer and even had a few lines in a couple of different scenes. Although, the director did force me to cut off the afro I had at the time and to shave my beard (which they paid for) before he would agree to let me play the part!”
What do you think about yourself?
“I’m about as laid-back as it gets, accepting of other ways of life and almost never stressed. I’m also usually quite quiet in social settings and I’m a terrible decision maker. Sub-par cook, decent Spanish speaker and I can hold my own on a basketball court.”
“At WanderingEarl.com, there is less focus on the major sights of the countries I visit and instead, more focus on the human interactions and lessons learned while traveling, volunteering and working around the world. Through a combination of travel stories and observations, as well as real life examples of how I’ve managed to stay on the road for over ten years, my goal is to demonstrate that a life of travel is not some far-fetched fantasy but a very real and infinitely rewarding lifestyle option instead.”- Earl Baron
All Pics are from Earl Baron