Inspirational Travelers: are you one of them?

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ April 6th, 2010. Updated on February 24th, 2011. Published in: Travel blog » Great Modern Travelers » How to live overseas.

Inspirational Travel? Just doing your own thing? Or, something different?

You’ve been traveling around the world for weeks, months, or even years, what happens when you get back home?

A hot shower, clean fresh towels, home cooked meals. And your own beautiful bed that hasn’t had 10,000 faceless strangers use it.

Inside Sofia, Turkey

As beautiful as it is, few people will really look through all your Sofia photos!

Yes, that stray hair is probably your own, for once.

A conversation about your adventures starts over dinner, which is good, but nothing like the exotic food from last week. Or even yesterday. Smiles all around for now, and then the conversation changes to politics, the neighbors, or worse still “what’s on TV later?”

We’ve all been there

If you’ve been in that situation, then no one needs me to tell them that taking out 10,001 photographs will change anything. With any luck some people have seen a few on your blog post or Facebook updates. It’s enough for them, trust me.

“Why don’t they get it?”

It’s a question many people ask once they’ve come home. Why don’t people feel the same way about travel?

They’ve not done it, that’s why. People have securities at home. Responsibilities to live for. Other priorities. Dreaming of travel is not one of them. There is no inspiration to be found here.

From the past:

Legends such as Alexander the Great inspired legions, societies, and history writers. Marco Polo led the way to controversy, discovery and new worlds of old.

Where are such people today?

Sometimes we don’t realize that we are living through history, right now.

Pick up a glossy magazine and you’ll see someone on the cover with an extraordinary inspirational travel tale to tell.

Yet soon we put the magazine down and it becomes apart of a collection, somewhere.

Switch over to a cable travel station and we’ll get scores of inspirational travelers names, inspirational travel shows and events. Or are they?

To me, most of what is on the cable travel shows is just … well … not very realistic. Nice pictures, but where’s the inspiration of actual travel beyond that?

As soon as the show is over, we flick channels and the story is lost.

Click on a fancy travel blog and read about someone traveling around the world. Nice photos … next.

Nothing sticks anymore. Why?

What’s the problem?

Are travelers today really doing anything special? Are they making new ground? Or just covering old ground with fancier graphics?

I think it’s the latter.

Time to hang up those old boots

Time to hang up those old boots

Planning to quit your job and go on a round the world trip?

Why not do something special with your once in a lifetime opportunity?

How to do it?

Who inspires you and why?

Have you read or seen a journey that inspires your heart to beat that extra beat?

Was it a movie, book or website?

If there’s a positive nod to any of the above, and you are planning a journey, then what’s stopping you?

You’re going traveling anyway, correct? Then why not become an inspirational traveler yourself?

Footsteps to follow:

Need ideas? Inspiration is found everywhere in travel.

Pakistan India land border

The lure of "what's on the otherside", drives many to become inspirational travelers

  • Follow an exact spice route, map it, put some history into it, photo it
  • Visit, drink, and write about the best coffee plantations in the world today
  • Climb a volcano, but do it at a different, harder, time of year, and video it
  • Be the first to ride a motorbike from border to border of lesser known country

Just some random ideas. But, all are relatively simple tasks – with a purpose. A purpose that can be enjoyed as well.

From here, others will find your travels inspiring.

Then, when back home, you will have accomplished something more than just traveling around yet another place. You will have become an inspirational traveler to others. You will have led the way in your field of enjoyment.

You are not alone:

Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to several inspirational travelers (note: check out the related posts below to read these interviews) . These are people I respect for stepping out from the masses, taking the gauntlet and going for it.

I hope with this series of interviews you will find a seed of inspiration with at least one of these inspirational travelers.

From this seed of inspirational travel, maybe, just maybe something great will grow.

It’s in all of us. You can feel it now. It’s just your choice if you want to run with it …

Inspirational Travelers interview:

The very first inspirational traveler I would like to introduce you to is, Jonny Bealby, one of my favorite travel authors. Jonny’s books and life is that of pure blood traveler.

Following the tragic death of his girlfriend while backpacking he rode around Africa on a motorbike, Asia on horse back, wrote three books about it, and ten years later he is now…

Well, let’s hear from Jonny himself about a Life After Travel that never happened!

Meanwhile; lets share something

What or who inspires you to travel?

Do your think the great travel adventures of yesterday can still happen today?

Are you content with just “another” travel journey, or do you want to do something special?

Coming soon:

Inspirational Travelers: Interview with Jonny Bealby (see below for the interviews)

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17 Great responses to Inspirational Travelers: are you one of them?

  1. Babel says:

    hmm. i think its not that you have to do something special and new and better than someone before. do that what you want and what you think is the best for you. if you only want to live your “normal” life in another country then do it, even without beeing the first person climbing naked a vulcano with a kajak on your back…
    but i will looking forward to a few nice stories… sure! ;)

    • -Babel- Yes, you are very correct. I was going to add this in, but felt it was nearly worth an article by itself. There is no doubt there is no need to do over the top things to make something inspirational. There are too many gimmick style journeys.
      That said, as I mention in the main body of the article, “Travel with a purpose …” and ” You will have led the way in your field of enjoyment.” Enjoyment meaning what you like and what’s best for you.

      Thanks for your comment, and glad to have you read along! :)

      -Greg- Hi & welcome! I find falling into complacency fairly easy to do as well. Like you, I find following some inspirational travelers helps. Hopefully in this series you might find some more! Even if the whole journey is too much, often there’s little things within it that can aspire. Kind of like that whole motorcycle thing I mention. It might not be feasible to ride from Argentina to Canada, but across Peru might well work out. Small steps lead to giant leaps in my book. Thanks for the comment!

      -jessiev- And, that’s my point. Overcoming obstacles be they mental, or physical e.t.c., are what makes something inspirational. Documenting it for yourself and making it accessible for others can then inspire them! Wishing you all the best!

  2. Greg says:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from as I find myself living on both sides of the coin. I lived and traveled around Argentina for 6 months a few years ago – it opened my eyes to travel and inspired me to do so much more. But I haven’t yet done more. I’ve been complacent. It’s such an easy trap to fall into – the feeling of security (which is so false), the coziness of familiar surroundings, the temptation of “possessions”. I’m trying to get my adventurous spirit back, but it is not easy. Your blog, and a few others, really inspire – ever since I started reading it a few months ago, my mind has been shifting back to “adventure mode”.

  3. jessiev says:

    love this. being disabled, i am impressed with people that overcome huge physical challenges to get out and about. it isn’t easy, for me travel is extremely physically painful. yet i do it. i HAVE to see the world.

    looking forward to your new series!

  4. You’re prodding me personally with this one. I admit a majority of my travels could be classified as aimless, lacking purpose.

    This first trip is probably more a self-serving endeavor than not, but my initial hope was to inspire those who struggle with breaking free at all.

    I think that first step can be inspiring in itself.

    That’s my current state of mind, so give me a little time to become the female Marco Polo.. LOL

    • -Nomadic Chick- Yes, the journey to making the first step can be inspiring, especially if it’s told to others on the brink. This can indeed be inspiring, well done for doing just this :)

      Aimless travel on the other hand … although romantic in notion, and inspiring for some. It’s a hard thing to sell on the long term. Mini missions of inspiration await your upcoming travels I am sure Ms. Polo!

      -Keith- “an interior inspiration that’s driving me” This to me, sounds like a search for purpose? If documented well, can be inspiring. Too many people hold their dreams inside for a lifetime. Glad to hear you are going for it. And, you certainly have the writing ability to document it well!

      -Joshua- Yes, it’s the journey alright. Moreover, like you said having the right mindset is invaluable. Mix the two together, and you are sure to find inspiration! Thanks for the comment!

      -May- Thanks for your comment. I’ll have to disagree & agree on some of your point’s here :) I agree that seeing the change travel can make to a person can be inspiring to others. But in my experience, it does not last as long. Documenting in public helps. But in general many people physiologically avoid taking action on this.

      I disagree that doing physical things has nothing to do with inspiring travel. Therein lies a challenge to take on. It’s in the human spirit to take on challenge and manifesting it into a physical one, especially through travel, is part of it. What others have done through travel, exploration, and feats whether successful or not, is in my book – inspirational. I never met Hillary, Alexander, or even Jonny Bealby, but their photos, writing and videos have inspired me in many ways.

      -Donald Norris- Great stuff! Challenge in any field and overcoming it is very inspirational. Glad to see you are doing it through photography! If our paths cross, it will be a pleasure.

  5. Keith says:

    I do hope for more than “another travel journey.” I’ve had the inspiration inside me all along, but I’ve shushed it, locked it away, and tried to ignore it. My current course is me following my heart and doing what feels right. It’s an interior inspiration that’s driving me. I don’t know where it will take me.

  6. Joshua says:

    What it goes to show is that it is not about the destination but ALL about the journey! And creating those inspirational journeys requires having the right mindset – you have to be prepared to take great risks in order to experience the great things.

  7. May says:

    Inspiring travel has nothing to do with motorbikes, spice routes, volcanos or coffee.

    Inspiring travel has everything to do with the way YOU are changed when you return. That could be from meeting people you would have never met at home, after coming back from some exotic backpacking trip, or coming back home relaxed and refreshed, with the energy to go back to your life after a week long stay at a seaside resort.

    We are inspired by people – not by photos, or videos or youtube… those are all just tools to help tell our stories – the heart of the story is people – so while reading about the naked volcano kayak climber would be amusing, it wouldn’t make much of an impact either…. What is inspiring is seeing the change in people, and wanting to acheive that same change (or something similar) for ourselves. Wanting to meet people we would never have the chance to talk to at home, or having that opportunity to shake off the doldrums and return refreshed and renewed.

  8. Certainly inspiring! its always the challenge when you shoot for a living. I started and art group here in LA just to keep my creative juices going. Getting totally lost is Sooooo fun. Perhaps its past due. Thanks for what you do. Keep traveling.. Perhaps our paths will cross someday.

  9. Cassi says:

    I just found your blog, and I find it ironic how the first entry I read is one that completely describes my life at this moment. I have been home for a little over a week after living and traveling in Asia for the last year and a half. Its overwhelming: reverse culture shock. The food, the lifestyle, the over abundance of everything, the GIANT cars! I love the conversation you have with old friends and family ‘tell me about your travels, I want to hear everything’ then you start talking and the eyes glaze.
    So I am a week in and I already thinking of the next place to go.
    Inspirational Traveler – this has given me direction! thank you! I look forward to reading all the old and new entries!

    • -Cassi- Glad you found the blog! Yes I know what you are going through quite well. You’re one week in and still feeling like you want to be doing more than anyone else currently is. One of the best things you’re doing is actually planning on where to go next. It’s a really good way to avoid those nights when no one has interest in what you’ve been doing.

      Hopefully some of the people I will be interviewing here can help inspire you a little more! :)

  10. i completely understand where you are coming from, but i also think it is a matter of degree. I’ve been on the road for 11 years. i’m on a mission to maximize my happiness and not too bothered what others think of my life or what I do with it. I live in conflict zones, have had a ton of life altering experiences (insert your favorite drug joke here), but in the end I am also used to my life. This is normal to me, but it might be inspirational to another person.

    While walking a Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan I discovered exactly what I wanted to do in life. I wanted the ability to continue walking the pilgrimage or embark on any other adventure i am passionate about. Other people think a trip to Bangkok is exciting and adventurous enough (i guess it does depend on which soi you venture down).

    I’m looking forward to your series as I think the further we get from the “I quite my job” base story the better. I want to know what people are going to do (or are doing) with their freedom.

    • I agree with you Todd, relevance is important. To some climbing Mount Kinabalu is a once in a life time inspirational journey. To others it’s just a mountain. Everyone’s got their own idea of inspiration.

      That said, I do believe we one must draw the line somewhere and push the boundaries of our existence, otherwise we will stagnate. While many people though going to the moon was a waste of time, one cannot argue it’s impact on history nor humanity.

      BTW, those interviews are already up and ready for reading, see related posts below :)

  11. No surrender … YOU; Wade; and a few others; & me; and … the “real” rest, are here for the long run.

    Travel, we will travel, and f**kin’ travel, and continue … (without the hype, while the rest, fade)


  12. laradunston says:

    Fantastic post! Great stuff! We’ve been planning a similar – yet different – sort of series.

    This is *exactly* how we felt and why we started Grantourismo. It was out of frustration with a certain kind of travel – the way we sometimes had to travel as guidebook writers (which can sometimes be similar to how people travel on tours, flitting through different cities every couple of days), and the discovery of a way of travel that we found far more enriching, i.e. travelling with a sense of purpose, travelling to learn, travelling to meet people (that we discovered when we shifted more to magazine writing a few years ago), that led us to develop Grantourismo.

    Our first Grantourismo project (the HomeAwayUK one), confirmed for us that how we travelled for that project was exactly how we wanted to always travel from now on – staying in places longer, connecting more with locals, travelling more sustainably, doing and learning things, and giving back to places – and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since it ended in February. We are now in permanent ‘grand tour’ mode, and that sense of purpose (rather, plural: purposes!) makes travel more meaningful for us. We hope we are inspiring others to travel in equally enriching ways.

    Really looking forward to this series! I’ll be a regular reader :)

    • Hi, and thanks for the kind words Lara.

      I very much agree with you about traveling with a purpose, over traveling for the sake of covering “everything”. There’s a big difference in the way you guys write compared to the drop in and out style that so many adhere to these days. I think it shows in the depth of comments and readership you have acquired on Grandtourismo. Keep up the good work, you’ve also got a regular reader here :)