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Will Hatton on World Adventures on a Budget, Pushing Yourself Past Your Limits, and Making a Change in Your Life – Cracking Creativity Podcast Episode 49

Will Hatton has a passion for travel and adventure. Through his website, The Broke Backpacker, Will talks about his many wonderful travels and adventures around the world while also doing it on a tight budget.

He has traveled everywhere from India and South East Asia to some of the world’s most dangerous countries like Palestine, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Iran. While many people might consider his methods   unconventional and dangerous, he has found that the world is a much kinder and safer place than you might think.

Will’s latest adventure is a two year trip from the UK to Papua New Guinea without using any flights. In this episode, you can find out why he is embarking on this journey and how he has been able to fund his amazing adventures, among many other things.

Here are three more things you can learn from Will:

You can push yourself farther than you think

Let’s face it. We all live fairly comfortable lives. If you are reading this, you probably have access to the internet, to electricity, and to some of life’s most basic needs.

Yet, we still find ways to tell ourselves we aren’t good enough. We make excuses for why we aren’t pushing hard enough. As soon as we hit the first obstacle in our path, we shrivel and give up.

If there is one important lesson you can learn from Will, it’s that you can push yourself farther than you ever thought possible. You can overcome any obstacle that is in your way.

While he was trekking the Annapurna Circuit, Will nearly died. He was struggling breathing. He was delirious. He was close to giving up. He didn’t think he was going to make it back down, but he did make it.

Pushing through that challenge made him a stronger person. It showed him the power of a human’s will to survive. Here’s Will’s account of overcoming that obstacle, “The fact that I didn’t die in the snow and I did manage to make it over and down the other side, it definitely strengthened my resolve and heightened my interest in challenging myself physically and mentally… I suppose when you think it’s all over, it definitely isn’t. You can give it that last push and break through that wall.”

Our obstacles seem incredibly fickle when compared to Will’s experience. If he can overcome nearly dying, we can overcome whatever obstacle is in our way.

Make a change in your life or stop complaining about it

Before Will decided to embark upon his journey as an adventurous nomad, he had a stint as a travel agent. Since he loved travel so much, but wasn’t ready to take the leap yet, he thought being a travel agent would be the next best thing.

He quickly realized it wasn’t the job for him. Being stuck behind a desk in an underground building was making him angry and depressed. He realized the job was destroying his soul.

He wanted to set up the same experiences that he loved doing himself, but his style of travel was too extreme. The trips he had to set up were too tame. So he decided to quit.

Instead of constantly complaining about his job, Will did something about it. He didn’t know whether his idea to give up everything and travel the world would work, but he did it anyways.

Will believes you should either make a change in your life or stop complaining about it. “If you don’t like a part of your life then you have a duty to either change it or stop moaning about it. You’ve got two options. You get on with it and that’s fine. That’s the level that you’re going to be at… but if you’re not, don’t just moan about it. Do something about it.”

Every new journey requires preparation

Whether you’re going out to travel the world on a budget or quitting your job to work on your own creative business, you must prepare yourself for the journey. Every new adventure requires some thought and preparation. You can’t just give everything up without a game plan.

You may have heard about people who found success after taking such a huge risk without preparing for it, but they are in the minority. What you haven’t heard about are all the people who weren’t successful after taking such a bold risk.

If you are going to embark upon a new journey, you must be prepared for it. You must prepare yourself both physically and mentally. You must do your research.

“You’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to prepare mentally, and you have to prepare your gear because if you’re hitting the road for the first time… you need to know that you’ve got the right gear and know it’s reliable… if you’re hitting the road for the first time, you have to have done a little bit of research, so that when you do arrive at the initial destination, you’re not just like a rabbit staring into headlights… I say the more research you do, the more fun you’ll have.”

While Will’s advice is meant for people who are preparing to travel, it also holds true for any new adventure. Preparation is the key to success. Without it, you are just like that rabbit looking into the headlights for an answer. Don’t take that risk without knowing what you are going to do.

Shownotes

  • about Will
    • backpacking for 7 years
    • extreme adventures on a tight budget
    • started traveling at 19
    • had bigger sense of freedom
    • traveled to India and held a lot of different jobs
    • started Broke Backpacker to tell people how to travel around the world
    • has had a bunch of sponsors sign on
    • 2 year trip from UK to Papua New Guinea without flights
  • becoming a full-time traveler
    • had a new job in UK, but found it boring and tame compared to living on the road
    • doesn’t know what will happen next
    • realized that as long as he was traveling, he was happy

13:16 “I never know what’s going to happen next and I really like that… It kinda keeps you guessing, it keeps you on your toes, it makes the day more exciting, and when  I experienced that, and had compared it to the alternative…  being on the road broke seemed a much better option than trying to make a living in the UK.”

  • first place he visited by himself
    • Costa Rica – got really ill, spent 2 weeks in hospital, and got sent home
    • it didn’t deter him from getting back on the horse and trying it again
    • wanted to join the Marines growing up, but he infected his leg, which got permanently damaged, and he couldn’t join Marines
    • decided to take a one-way trip to India
      • chose India because it was cheap, big, far away, and he didn’t know anything about it
      • was there over a year and only saw half of it
      • going from state to state in India is like going to different countries
      • India is culture shock, even for experienced travelers
      • had $3k when he went there, which lasted 14 months
      • Couchsurfed, hitch hiked, and used trains
  • Couch surfing in dangerous countries
    • Couchsurfing – online hospitality website where you can stay with people in the community
    • has couch surfed over one hundred times
    • had Couchsurfer meet him in Venezuela to cross over into Colombia
    • uses it to explore crazy places without looking like he’s lost

17:00 “I quite like to go to countries where nobody else really goes to, because when I’m exploring, I want to be a little like Indiana Jones and pretend like I’ve got it all to myself. So  I do tend to go to countries like Palestine, Pakistan, Venezuela, Iran… and when I do that, the way that I keep myself safe is I use Couchsurfing to make contact with somebody beforehand, and that way you got a friend in countries who can help you.”

  • travel tips
    • walk with a purpose
    • you get a sense when things aren’t quite right
    • look assertive
    • instinct will kick in, so you can run or fight
    • getting robbed at knife point
    • use common sense and hang out with sound people
    • Couchsurfing hosts are excited about showing people around

18:20 “A lot of the time when I’m walking around new cities or walking around new towns or whatever, you gotta walk with purpose, even if you have no idea where you’re going because it’s much better to walk past a rough looking gang of people three or four times, then to stand in front of them for five minutes looking at a map.”

19:44 “In general, the world in nowhere near as scary a place as the media might make it out to be. People everywhere are really friendly, really helpful. They keep an eye out for you man.”

  • after being robbed at knife point
    • got friend, and went out to look for him, then went to get Buffalo momos
    • only lost $30 and his wallet
    • has never had his entire backpack taken
    • was only robbed 3 times in seven years
  • stationing himself
    • burnt out while traveling in S. America
    • got an apartment in Medellin
    • sometimes he has to take breaks just to relax
  • after India he went to Nepal
    • trekked Annapurna Circuit – nearly killed himself on it
    • then went to SE Asia for months
      • colorful, cheap, close distances
      • India is comparatively difficult to travel
    • nearly dying at Annapurna Circuit
      • was struggling with his breathing
      • most people do it with a guide, he went with his friend and a hand-drawn map
      • while climbing the last summit he got extremely sick
        • he could either climb 500 meters or go back down for a few weeks
        • was delirious, but got to a shack at the top where man sells chai
        • was able to stumble back down after another 8 hours
      • didn’t think he was going to make it

25:45 “The fact that I didn’t die in the snow and I did manage to make it over and down the other side, it definitely strengthened my resolve and heightened my interest in challenging myself physically and mentally. So I guess the lesson I would learn is that sometimes I suppose when you think it’s all over, it definitely isn’t. You can give it that last push and break through that wall.”

  • how he travels
    • has traveled with girlfriend and brother
    • also meets up with people for different amounts of time
    • but mostly travels by himself
  • making his way around
    • is good at sign language
    • 90% of communication isn’t language
    • he is bad at languages and making fires
    • learns 10 keywords in languages
    • he wants to learn languages
    • U Talk language app
    • easier to learn a language like Spanish than trying to learn different languages used in India
  • Tim Ferriss Experiment
    • learning Tagalog in two days and having conversation on talk show
    • breaking skill down into most important parts and anticipate what people would ask
    • Will did that with tests by looking at previous questions
  • his jobs
    • wind surfing instructor, life guard, unloading trucks for supermarket
    • was a travel agent for a while
      • was a soul destroying job
      • felt too tame
      • being stuck behind desk and being underground made him angry/depressed
  • taking action on your feelings
    • two ways to take action:
      • one – exercise (Crossfit)
      • two – travel the world

33:14 “If you don’t like a part of your life then you have a duty to either change it or stop moaning about it. You’ve got two options. You get on with it and that’s fine. That’s the level that you’re going to be at, and if you’re content with that and you’re happy about it. That’s great. Good for you. But if you’re not, don’t just moan about it. Do something about it.”

33:51 “Go and travel the world. It is not as scary as many people think it is. It is significantly more rewarding then you could ever imagine. It will give you ideas. It will fuel your passion. You’ll find a purpose. You might fall in love. It’s a life changing experience. Do it. Everybody should travel.”

  • finding job when you can’t speak a language
    • if you have concern about money and you speak English, get a teaching English as a foreign language certificate
      • $250-$300 for 60 hour online course
      • you can teach foreign languages in a country almost anywhere
      • has a certificate, but hasn’t had to use it because he is able to sell articles
      • it’s his fallback option
  • starting Brokebackpacker
    • first version was terrible
    • he set it up so he could keep mom up to date with his travels
    • was encouraged to enter travel writing competitions
    • entered 3-4 and won 2
    • then made the decision to become full-time blogger
    • started networking, learning about social media, and taught himself how to code
    • when he can’t do something he turns to Fiverr

36:34 “I just started to take it seriously, and as soon as I started to take it seriously, other people started to take it seriously and I just got really good at the networking side of it. Before you know it, I’d been featured by Business Insider, Reuters, BBC, Yahoo Travel, and Daily Mail. And yeah, it just keeps spreading as long as you keep putting lots of energy into it.”

  • writing competitions he won
    • Telegraph, World Nomad, In Travel Magazine
    • Telegraph was about most embarrassing moment
      • talked about moment in Nepal
    • In Travel was about inspirational moment
      • novice monk in Burma after climbing six hours up hill
      • monk gave him a glass of water
    • embarrassing moment
      • staying in guest house and noticed discomfort in groin
      • saw creature attached
      • tried everything to get it off
      • went to doctor who removed the tic
  • writing style
    • free flow
    • start writing, and when he’s done, he’s done
    • has to write a certain number of click bait articles
    • likes to write investigative articles

40:09 “Whenever I have to write something I don’t want to write, I find it really really hard. I find it almost like selling out and I don’t enjoy doing that. I haven’t done much of that recently, but when you are competing in a space that is as competitive as travel blogging, you need to write click bait articles every now and again… I hate writing that stuff.”

41:10 “I think it’s important that people realize that traveling is amazing but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s real as well.”

  • whether being honest leads to people following him
    • knows around 200 of his followers by name because he’s had conversations with him
    • being approachable is important

42:02 “The blog isn’t about me. It isn’t about my personality. It’s about the journeys that I’m doing and the people I’m meeting. And that’s what I want to write about, and I think that’s something everybody can get behind even if they don’t like me.”

  • most popular articles
    • getting tattooed in the jungle by Wang Od
      • the last Kalinga tattoo artist to hold the title of Mamababatok (tattoo master)
      • last one who could do a certain type of tattoo
      • they didn’t speak each others’ language, but he still got the tattoo
      • 3-4 day mini adventure that anyone can do
      • didn’t realize what he was getting until the next day when he found out it was a fertility symbol
      • had a book of 20 tattoos, and he chose one he liked
      • see video of him getting the tattoo
  • recommendations for how to create a network
    • doesn’t see benefit of connecting with lifestyle bloggers because they aren’t into the same things as he is
    • he is more into overlanding/extreme adventures

44:27 “Just find your tribe. Find people who are into the same things you are into. Be honest.”

44:55 “You need to identify who is writing about, or producing content about, the kind of thing which you hope to produce content about, and try and make friends with them. Obviously you’ve got this thing in common that you’re both producing similar kind of content. So as long as you’re being honest,.. people tend to respond to it quite well.”

  • finding connections on bigger sites
    • used Twitter to pitch editors
    • Tweeted an interesting story and picture that made it easy to understand the pitch
    • if you have the right story, and find the right person for that story, you can get it published
    • you need to research who you’re trying to pitch before you try to pitch them
    • find out what the editor likes and a story that fits that theme
  • pitch to BBC
    • going to Venezuela
    • wanted to explore dark side of Venezuela
    • story had both sides of story
    • BBC denied it because it didn’t have human/positive element to it
  • getting sponsorships
    • got sponsorships using the same Twitter technique
    • got his biggest sponsor, Hostel World, because they saw his pitch to Red Bull
    • other companies have contacted him through Twitter because of that
    • isn’t going to change the way he travels because of the money he makes
    • he is putting the money into a pot to create Broke Backpacker hostels
    • wants to build some in SE Asia and South America
  • idea for the journey is currently embarking on
    • wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before and wanted to travel the world like the original explorers of the world
    • doesn’t know anything about at least a dozen of the countries he is going to visit

“I just wanted to really really challenge myself physically and mentally. I also wanted to travel and go out with a purpose, and I feel like I’ve got a purpose by having a destination that I’ve set for myself, and I’ve made these rules that I’m going to travel by, old style without any flights, to make it harder. I’m going to try and level up with my traveling I suppose.”

  • countries he looks forward to visiting the most on his trip
    • Bulgaria, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, Buton, Myanmar, Phillipines, Papau New Guinea
  • commonalities and differences between people he’s met
    • if you do backpacking for a while you get used to waiting, being hungry, cold, uncomfortable, etc.
    • backpackers are usually laid back and don’t get stressed
    • gravitates towards chill people who also like to do things
    • young backpackers have a problem of getting too drunk

“If you travel, you’ve really gotta try and show a respect to the local people and the local culture and the local history as well. So it really annoys me when I see people not doing that, and I tend to just avoid those people. And that’s why I go to more challenging countries like Pakistan and Papa New Guinea, or Iran, because it just doesn’t have that kind of crowd.”

  • most interesting thing he has found or done on his journeys
    • in Myanmar, he rode a bike up a dirt track up to a jungle that had limestone Buddha statues that were laid out in a grid
  • favorite place or story
    • Jordan – couchsurfed with a Rastafarian Bedouin
      • helped collect firewood, had a fire every night and slept under the stars
    • merges together in once awesome trip
    • tends to meet a lot of the same people around
  • how he gets around on the cheap
    • does a lot of hitchhiking inspired by Kerouac
    •  takes a lot of local transport like trains, buses
    • hitchhiked a lot in Central America in the back of pickup trucks
    • usually has local currency, but also has spare US dollars in case of an emergency
  • suggestions for people embarking on a new journey

“You’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to prepare mentally, and you have to prepare your gear because if you’re hitting the road for the first time… you need to know that you’ve got the right gear and know it’s reliable… if you’re hitting the road for the first time, you have to have done a little bit of research, so that when you do arrive at the initial destination, you’re not just like a rabbit staring into headlights and you at least have a kind of got an address to go to or something like that. I say the more research you do, the more fun you’ll have.”

  • what he does on social media
    • uses scheduling software
    • doesn’t know why he’s grown so large
    • getting articles published in media outlets is how he’s grown his following
    • recommends Tweet Jukebox and Crowdfire
  • journeys other than travel he has planned
    • has a 5-10 year plan for traveling
    • wants to train for the Crossfit Masters Games by the time he turns 35
    • has another journey planned to take a motor bike from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America
    • likes to keep himself busy
  •  favorite quote
    • got a book from his father when he was ten called Illusions by Richard Bach
      • adventures of a reluctant messiah
    • if you say you can’t do something, then you can’t
    • doesn’t limit himself
    • tells himself he can do anything he wants
    • this mantra carries him through whenever he is having a hard trek
    • still has doubts and fears, but knows he can do it
    • likes to face challenges with gusto rather than despair

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” – Rchiard Bach

“I tend to not limit myself. I don’t like saying to myself, you can’t do that, you can’t do this. Yeah, you can do whatever you want. I do have quite a lot of self-belief. I do  I do reckon I can do pretty much anything I want as long as I put in the correct amount of energy and enthusiasm, I feel like I can pull off any project.”

  • his journey
    • has to schedule out times for Pakistan/Iran, but every other place is fairly open
  • morning routine
    • hamstring stretches, makes his bead because of Tim Ferriss, drinks two pints of water, then crossfit or work
  • books, podcasts, documentaries, etc.
  • creative people
    • Tim Ferriss
    • Will’s father – came from disadvantaged background and built empire
      • didn’t have qualifications, but is able to invent things
  • definition of creativity
    • be willing to experiment

“For me, that would probably be, trying lots of different things and throwing yourself into them 100% until you find the thing you are good at because I believe everybody is good at something and they haven’t just necessarily worked out what that thing is. You’ve got to keep trying stuff, and I mean, that’s what I’m doing. I’ve got loads of ideas. I’ve got loads of things I want to try. And I’ve had some projects fail this year. I’ve had some things take off. I’ve had some things not take off, and that’s just how it goes. You need to keep experimenting. You need to keep pushing the boundaries. Keep trying.”

  • being more creative

“It’s a muscle and it needs to be exercised properly. You can’t just expect to sit down one day and… write a masterpiece. It doesn’t happen like that. You need to write every day. You need to practice every day, and be thinking about it every day. It needs to become a part of your personality. That would be my recommendation for getting good at something. Just make it your whole thing.”

TheBrokeBackpacker.com  |  Pericscope: wandering_will  |  Snapchat: wthatton

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