Great Modern Traveler Award 2010: Wade Shepard

What is the Great Modern Traveler Award?

Wayyyy back 3 years ago I went on a small personal project to find the most inspirational modern-day travelers I could find. People that inspired me, one way or another. Some have failed in completing their goals, others have continued. Either-way, they have tried in tasks I found admirable.

I thought every year there after I would find another ten. Sadly, this did not happen. Not for want of trying. Simply put – there were very few travelers out there that I found inspirational on a year to year basis, least of all 10.

However, there are always new people emerging, being discovered and, developing!

Wade Shepard from Vagabond Journey
Wade Shepard from Vagabond Journey

2010 Great Modern Traveler: Wade Shepard

Wade’s credentials had him vying for my original travelers hall of fame. He’s been in love with perpetual travel for over 12 years now. Outspoken, opinionated, and knowledgeable. Wade will tell it to you like it is.

Covering 50 countries Wade’s experienced a life on the road like few have.  From living in a premier tropical resort island and traveling with royalty; to dumpster diving to finding cheap eats. Wade has experienced all spectrum’s in the world of travel.

From shoestring backpacker to one of the largest independent travel websites

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Wade may have a long shaggy beard and multiple tattoos. But, he is also a fully qualified Archeologist, husband to Chaya, and father to lovely Petra.

He also makes a living from his website (Vagabond Journey). Which has developed into a geographic magazine with over 3,000 people per day viewing and participating in it. Along with active travel forums, hosting individual travel blogs, and featured columns its a heavyweight contender in the world of travel resources.

Wade travels perpetually with his family from these earnings. How many people can actually say they do this in reality?  The answer is: not many.

He’s been making a living through travel for 12 years.

So, without further adieu, congratulations Wade; welcome to the list of Great Modern Travelers!

Do you know a great modern traveler? Read on …

Who can make this list? Those that walk pole to pole, swim around the world …  Although interesting, I don’t find them that inspiring.

Why? Well, many have a list of sponsors longer than the average webpage. Many seem to be quite wealthy already, and have little problem in funding such “extraordinary tasks“.

This, takes nothing away from their accomplishments. I may still write a list about them. But, I do find something detached about their accomplishments in line with this list.

How many of us can really afford to climb Everest in gimmicky style or even traditionally these days? Many set out to achieve commercial goals and break records, so be it. This may, be good. But, not for this list.

Great Modern Travelers going public?

This is my own list of Great Modern Travelers. People who I have found inspiring in some form or another. I, personally, like to read about the people on this old list. Maybe some will drop out in the future. But, it’s still a personal list. The reasons are plentiful.

Great Modern Travelers Award to Wade Shepard
Great Modern Travelers Award to Wade Shepard

Voting for your pick of the next great modern traveler?

I thought about opening up an online vote so people could choose from a list of choices. But, I’ve seen way, way, too many people try to cheat the system. From multiple self voting, to hiring people in India to vote en masse, to hiring people online to vote en masse.

Not to mention using Facebook or twitter to constantly churn out pleas of “vote for me”.

Judges vote

Someone suggested I contact a group of peers in the travel industry to vote on a person. Not a bad idea if kept simple. That said, impartiality would be key.

Criteria for a great modern traveler?

Firstly, take a look at the current list of great modern travelers. You can deduce from this the sort of criteria I am looking for.

If not, here are few to choose from:

  • No fully sponsored round the world or commercial adventure record-breaking travelers (yes they can have sponsored help, however the majority cost must have come from themselves)
  • No gimmicks. Towing a house up the side of Mount Everest is not going to get you in. And, neither is drinking a beer in every town you visit.
  • They do not have to have a website! This is not an award for having the best travel blog! But, there should be some form of documentation of their journey. Be it a book, magazine, online, TV etc.
  • They should be modern travelers. And, by modern, lets take it from the birth of the internet to the present.
  • They can have already accomplished their travels. Or, be in the middle of them, or on a rare occasion be about to start them.
  • Generally speaking, they should have accomplished something inspirational in their travel. Simply jet hopping around and visiting every country in the world does not make the grade.
  • Failure is an option! Yes, just because they set out on a great travel journey and did not accomplish it does not mean they failed this list. So long as they went up against adversity, and did something inspirational in the process.
  • Disabled travel is no different on this list. Walking from the north coast of France to the south coast on prosthetic limbs may be a great achievement. But the travel aspect must be there. Not just a sponsored walk.
  • This is not a great “travel blogger” list. There are a lot of those lists out there. This is about inspirational travel. If it’s recorded in a blog, great. But a great blog about travel does not get you in.
  • Volunteering for a good cause in a country for 2 years etc, does not count if it’s a “pay to volunteer” position.

I’m writing this on the go. So I hope the above makes sense.

Open to suggestions …

Certainly I am open to additional criteria, and revised criteria on this. If you have ideas on Great Modern Travelers leave a comment below.

Meanwhile …

Congratulations again to Wade Shepard (and family) for making it to the list of Great Modern Travelers (Wade’s permanent page here).

Vacant Great Modern Travelers Award logo
Who is the next Great Modern Traveler?

Who’s the next great modern traveler?

Leave a comment below with a single link or details to whom you think should be the next great modern traveler?

This is an additional article about the Great Modern Travelers Award

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14 Replies to “Great Modern Traveler Award 2010: Wade Shepard”

  1. I like this like a lot. A great bunch of inspiration there. If you like Wade, you might like Andyhobo too?

    There’s a guy who walk the Sahara too. I’ll have to come back with that one.

  2. Well done, a great choice. I’d keep the list to your own selections. It’s a rich and diverse selection. Opening it up might dilute a little?

  3. Thanks Dave,

    This is truly an honor, especially since, as has been stated above, this list is not about travel blogging prowess but is about travel in and of itself — which makes this a truly one of a kind honor. I accept your award with open arms, and will flaunt it shamelessly as it is truly something to be proud of haha.

    Walk Slow,


  4. hey! did my comment go into spam?! I wrote, I always wanted to marry an Archeologist.. where is my comment? arrrgh

    anyway i find this an incredible award. Many ppl can travel.. but to make it into the hall of fame.. now those criteria have to be carefully set. Most imp. being (and i totally agree) famous not because of self promotion, but because of the trail of good deads they have left behind.
    great post dave!

    (go look for my comment in spam pls!!!!)

    1. Hi Mei,

      Yes, you were hiding in the spam folder again! I think it’s the name change that triggered it. Just released you :)

      Glad you approve of the award. Wade stands alongside many other people on the Great Modern Travelers list, not because of self promotion, but because of his accomplishments.

      Thanks for letting me know about the spam, and thanks for taking the time to write a second comment!

  5. Agreed. Kudos to Wade & our real-traveler-host who can see beyond the (many, not all) travel-blog-fads and acknowledge true travelers.

    Regards – MRP | not wanting to be a travel-blog … you will see me, eventually, @ the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

  6. Congratulations to Wade and an excellent choice, Dave!!

    You and I have had this discussion so you know my views. It will be no surprise that I do agree with Anna’s World about the voting aspects. A panel of peers can work though rarely does effectively. Granted, it means more work for you personally – sorting out all of the recommendations – but the site is yours and so should be the choice of recipient.

    Since I only travel to the grocery store and back, guess you won’t be seeing my name on that recommendation list anytime soon. If you ever start a “Most Inspirational Cook” category, I’ll be submitting my own name. (Just one word – dolma…) LOL!!!

    Again, congratulations Wade! ;-)

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