For our People of the World section, meet the hilarious travel blogger, Will Hatton aka ‘The Broke Backpacker’. An avid traveler who has just about every travel experience written down on his books. Did we mention he’s pretty funny? Read on and get inspired!
- 1 So tell us a little bit about you and your blog, The Broke Backpacker
- 2 How did you first get into travel? How would you say you have grown as a traveler compared to your first trips?
- 3 What inspires you to travel? What do you love most about traveling?
- 4 What is the most difficult/challenging travel experience that you have gone through?
- 5 Share with us one of your “poorest backpacker” moments
- 6 This is a tough one, but please share your favorite “surreal traveling” moment? (This can be seeing something unbelievable or visiting a dream destination etc.)
- 7 What is the biggest lesson that traveling has taught you?
- 8 Where are you heading next and what are you looking forward to seeing?
So tell us a little bit about you and your blog, The Broke Backpacker
I’ve been on the road for the best part of seven years now, it’s only recently I finally started organising all of my notes into my website, The Broke Backpacker I have had an absolutely amazing response online and have even been published on major news-sites such as News.com.au. Finding success with my writing is great but for me it’s all about the travelling. I love to rock up to a new town where nobody knows my face (no, I don’t have any outstanding warrants) and to just melt into a local culture. For me, it’s all about the people I meet (well, that and cheap beer) on the road; I’ve made lifelong friends, met lovers, brothers from another mother and inspirational folks who first got me started on the path to recording my adventures online. I feel extremely lucky to have travelled as much as I have.
How did you first get into travel? How would you say you have grown as a traveler compared to your first trips?
I used to be the shyest kid in the world, seriously; we’re talking full on, ‘I don’t have any mates and I spend all of my time playing with action figures (in their original packaging)’. I came from a small town where it’s pretty much impossible to shake an image like that so I hit the road. I was still shy and hell, it scared the heck out of me but I learnt that most people are actually just like me; maybe a little bit unsure of themselves but keen to learn more. I now have no problem going into a crowded bar by myself and making friends, I never could of done that without travelling. Seeing the stuff I saw, we’re talking rolling mountains, endless deserts, frozen peaks and scorched plains, I suddenly had something cool to talk about; I felt validated for the first time in my life. It turned out I was pretty ‘good’ at travelling; I can fit into a train luggage rack, I don’t mind camping for weeks at a time, I have the perfect ‘pick me up’ smile (for hitching!) and I’m happy to scrimp and save on pretty much everything (food, water, a bed) if it means seeing another mountain.
What inspires you to travel? What do you love most about traveling?
At first, I loved that I could be whoever I wanted to be. Later, I loved that I was seeing things that nobody else had seen, I do a lot of solo trekking and I love to explore. Now, I love that people are reaching out to me and saying I have inspired them to travel. This is literally the best feeling in the world for me. Travel has changed my life so the hope that I may help convince somebody to travel themselves; well, that’s pretty awesome. I’m really enjoying the online side of travelling at the moment; I like networking with other bloggers and I love helping newbies out. There are so many places I still want to go to but, more than that, there are a lot of journeys I would love to attempt. My next big trip will see me travelling from the UK to Australia without the use of any airlines. I plan to hitchhike, cycle, bus and train my way up Eastern Europe, into Turkey, through Iran, up into Pakistan, across China, down through Myanmar if the borders open, Vietnam if it isn’t and into Thailand and Malaysia… then, I hope to hitch on sailing boats across Indonesia.
What is the most difficult/challenging travel experience that you have gone through?
When I was 19, on my very first ‘long’ solo trip abroad, I was hospitalised for two weeks with a serious leg injury. I was eventually expatriated to the UK where I took months to recover. I had always wanted to join the army and this injury sadly put an end to that aspiration. It really knocked me off my feet but, within a year, I had decided to see the world anyway, without the aid of an assault rifle, and I haven’t looked back since.
Oh god, really!? I mean, there’s been some pretty epic hitching and couchsurfing adventures but you really want to hear something off-putting? Dumpster diving gets a really bad rep but most of the time it’s absolutely fine; you go round the back of big supermarkets half an hour after they have closed and see if there’s anything good. Once, I opened a bag with something truly horrifying inside. Actually, scrap that, let’s not even talk about that. I suppose one time when I realised, ‘heck, I need some money badly’ was when I found myself busking for the first time ever and to put this into context, I don’t play an instrument and I really can’t sing.
Arriving into the middle of the desert with the vague instruction to ‘look for a pink land-rover’ from some guy on a Couchsurfing Forum – I was picked up by a Rastafarian Bedhouin who put me up in his cave for a week whilst I helped herd his goats. Having a cheeky smoke whilst watching the stars above the desert was a truly wonderful experience.
What is the biggest lesson that traveling has taught you?
Be yourself. If you don’t know who you are yet, no worries – lots of people don’t. Be kind to strangers, be open to those who appear shy, be inclusive of solo travellers – say hello to people! Get off your iPhone, get off Facebook; you can do all that at home. Be in the here and now whilst travelling or, despite having hundreds of pictures, you might not actually see anything.
Where are you heading next and what are you looking forward to seeing?
I’m off to the Philippines in just a couple of days, I’m super stoked and very much hoping to swim with Whale Sharks; I’ve always wanted to! I’m also simply very excited to meet with Filipinos, I’ve met a few on my travels and they are always so much fun!