“I always feel the need to get out and experience something new and that just builds up and up if I don’t address it. Why wait months for a big adventure like travelling abroad when there are hundreds of mini adventures right on your doorstep. It could be a night wild camping in the woods or a day kayaking to a pub for lunch & back.”
Interview with world traveler Rob by trip and holiday planner Sygic Travel. Follow Rob at TheMiniAdventurer.co.uk or @_MiniAdventurer.
How would you describe yourself in 5 sentences?
I was brought up to be a gentleman and I try to help others where I can, even if it’s just holding a door open or giving another traveller some tips I’ve learned. I’m an adventurer at heart and for many years I struggled to identify exactly what that meant to me. I’m certainly not the fearless extreme sports type but rather I think I’m driven to explore and see new things. I find it hard to sit still and I need to occupy my mind. I think I may have a pathological need to seek out adventure, new experiences and face my fears.
What was the moment you decided to become a traveler?
I think being read books about great adventures as a kid really instilled the spirit in me and taking part in things like the Duke of Edinburgh award gave me the confidence. My first great travel experience came at the age of 17 when I blundered my way onto the Rotary International exchange program and ended up living in Brazil for a year. I’ve never looked back since.
What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
That’s an easy one! Getting married to my wife and going on the most action-packed honeymoon around Australia. We swam with 5m salt water crocodiles, dived the Great Barrier Reef, ate in Michelin starred restaurants, slept under the stars in the outback and took some awesome selfies with the cute little Quokka’s on Rottnest Island.
What do you love the most about traveling?
It may sound cliche, but I thrive on seeking out new experiences & getting out of my comfort zone. I love researching new adventures, even if I can’t always make them happen just thinking & planning energises me. When it comes to travelling I love every minute, all the long hard travelling, even the inevitable end of a trip and the journey home.
What is it you don’t like about traveling?
Time, or lack of. I’m always limited by the amount of time I can spend in one place and invariably I always wish I could stay longer.
What is the most common misconception about being a full time traveler?
Most people only ever see the ‘perfect moment’ when they read Facebook posts or see Instagram pictures. Often there is a lot of hard work hot sweaty travel that precedes that moment. More often than not my travel is done on a budget so there is always a trade off. Sometime that ‘perfect view’ requires hours of hiking & sleeping outside. Other times that amazing night stay in a fancy hotel is accompanied by a meal of pot noodles.
What is the most challenging part of full time travel or nomadic life?
I’d have to say Time again. Managing Limited time and funds often put unnecessary pressures on achieving goals or limit the time you have to enjoy an experience.
What is the best way to experience a foreign culture?
I’ve been lucky enough to live abroad in a number of countries including China & Brazil. Living amongst the locals, following their trends and doing as they do allows you to learn more about the culture. Take the time to meet people and make friends. No one knows more about the area then the people who live there. As I write this I’ve just started a new life with my wife in Switzerland and we are doing our best to learn the language and see how everyone here lives.
What are the five things you can’t travel without?
- My Kindle. I used to travel with a weighty stack of books and this little device has revolutionised travelling for me. I have thousands of books at my fingertips and it all fits in my pocket.
- A decent head torch. You never know when there will be a power cut, you take the opportunity to wild camp or as is often the case, you have one too many drinks and need to light the way home from the local beach bar.
- Waterproof bag. Just a simple roll bag will do but it will keep your belongings dry & safe in bad weather. I’ve even filled one with air and used it as a floatation device once.
- I’m tempted to say my mobile phone as it’s just so darn handy in so many ways but I know that would be a cop out. More importantly I’d say a good quality pair of walking shoes. Google maps might show you the way but without shoes you are not going anywhere.
- I’d have to be cheeky here & roll 2 into 1. A good sense of humour and patience. Getting angry, upset and frustrated won’t enhance your experience one bit. Learn to roll with the punches, be polite and smile. I guarantee you will make more friends and things will work out for the better.
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list right now?
- Antarctica. It’s always been a dream of mine to step foot on every continent and this is the only one I have left. There’s also something alluring about going to the furthest reaches of the planet, seeing and doing things that most people only dream of. Oh yeah and of course, the Penguins. Everyone wants to see the penguins, right?
- Bhutan. I’m captivated by the beautiful & mystery shrouded Country in the mountains.
- Costa Rica. I love anything to do with nature & wildlife so this seems like the perfect place for me.
If you had an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, what would your itinerary look like?
I’d be booking the next cruise to Antarctica! My last continent to set foot on. It’s right at the top of my bucket list.
If you should decide today, which country would you pick for retirement?
That’s a tricky one, I’ve found so many amazing places over the years that I’ve said I would love to retire too but the problem with that is that they inevitably change as do what I feel I would want in retirement. I remember when I would have said that about Koh Tao in Thailand. Don’t get me wrong I still love the place it’s just more of a party town than an idyllic retirement spots these days. I’ve always said I’d love to retire to the British Countryside, a nice cottage in the Welsh mountains or the English lake district. That said Switzerland is starting to look pretty amazing, so it may be a hard sell to drag me back.
What is the most overrated country or location you’ve been to?
I always try to get the best out of my travels and be positive about the places I visit but If I’m being honest I’d probably say China. I lived there for a year and I’ve been back since. I’ll always have a fondness for the Country and the people and there are some stunningly beautiful places to visit but there are little things that taint it for me. The pollution there is horrendous. The expats in Beijing used to say that you know when you have been there a long time when you suddenly notice the mountains at the edge of the city on a clear day and that was back in 2001.
I visited last year and took my brother in law to an old favourite spot where you can see the whole of the forbidden city spread out before you like a map. Sadly, even on our clearest day we could barely see past the outer wall. One of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen is Guilin but even this far out in the countryside there is now smoggy clouds. I also got a little sick of seeing pagodas being built and then having plaques erected next to them saying they were hundreds of years old. It sounds too crazy to be true, but it is. Very little of anything of historical value is original. Most things get sold off to private collectors and replaced with replicas. I’d still recommend people to visit. It’s an incredible country with a rich heritage and there is much to enjoy. Don’t take my word for it, go explore and make up your own minds.
What is the most underestimated country or location you’ve been to?
Probably Bosnia. I visited recently during a trip to Croatia and really wish I could have spent more time there. It’s such a beautiful place but unfortunately it still has the stigma of war attached to it. I’m looking forward to going back, especially to explore the countryside.
Tell us more why you call yourself a “mini adventurer”?
Haha, well I’m not the tallest guy you’ll meet but it’s not really about size (I’m not that short, honest) it’s more about my philosophy. Adventure and exploration is a huge part of who I am. I always feel the need to get out and experience something new and that just builds up and up if I don’t address it. Why wait months for a big adventure like travelling abroad when there are hundreds of mini adventures right on your doorstep. It could be a night wild camping in the woods or a day kayaking to a pub for lunch & back. I’m always looking for an adventure big or mini.
Thank you Rob!
Simona from Sygic Travel
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