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The Tour Du Mont Blanc – a Journey Through The Alps

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

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         Okay, maybe this particular journey wasn’t a thousand miles, but over one hundred miles through the topsy-turvy, meandering Alps in the summer heat with a 15kg backpack strapped to you wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either. The ‘Tour Du Mont Blanc’ it was called – one of great long walks of the world that snakes its way around the Mont Blanc Massif as it passes through ridiculously pretty and bucolic regions of France, Italy and Switzerland. Following some research on the internet a few weeks before, I booked my flight, loaded up my backpack and set off to the Swiss city of Geneva where I caught a connecting bus to the French town of Chamonix that sat at the foot of the highest mountain in Western Europe – Mont Blanc. The aforementioned single step hit the tarmac as I immediately set off on my journey as I left the bus and began a short walk down the alpine valley to the charming French town of Les Houches – the official start-point of the tour. I lazed about all day catching up on sleep due to fruitlessly attempting to sleep in the airport the night before my 6.30am flight. A thunderstorm lashed down from above and I spent the first night cocooned in my tent before emerging enthusiastically the next morning ready to hike.

       The first day was still littered with light rain and grey clouds obscuring the surrounding mountains I had came to see, and I made way up out of the valley alongside quiet roads that were lined with chalets and holiday homes. The summer season of course meant an end to the skiing and this was reflected in the quietness of the streets and the eerily empty ski fields where ski lifts gently swung in the valley breeze as they

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picturesque and pleasant – a French valley

solitarily awaited the distant return of snow. For now it was summer season – the season of hiking where people like me trudged up and down these valleys while sweating profusely. I reached the top of the valley (the ‘Col’ as they call it), ate a packed lunch and spent the second half of the first day descending to the bottom before meeting two Canadian girls Melanie and Sarah on their first trip to Europe. Being from British Columbia, they were no strangers to beautiful alpine mountains and we spent the afternoon chirping the usual traveller back-forth chat while walking through the quaint and picturesque scenery that was filled with rustic, stylish houses and settlements adorning colourful flowers and immaculately groomed gardens. The day ended again with me sheltering in my tent as a night storm battered down into the valley. Well, at least it’s at night hey.

      Following a second day trudging up and down over my first 2500m Col in the now frustratingly gloomy weather, I was nestled in a beautiful French valley that exploded in the colour of green as the summer sun finally made an appearance. Doing the trek counter-clockwise (it can be done either way around), I was now in the tiny town of Les Chapieux and en route to climb the next Col to make my way into Italy where dramatic IMG_1196.JPGviews of enormous, spiky rock faces awaited me on the southern side of the Mont Blanc Massif, not to mention an entirely different language (as if my few French phrases weren’t painful enough to the locals). I packed away my camping gear, ordered a couple of delicious French baguettes for lunch from a small shop and starting climbing into Italy. Over the border I was met with stupendous views of the now-clear mountain range where a stretching alpine valley snaked alongside an engulfing, jagged crowd of sky-piercing mountains and wrinkled hills. The scenery was incredible; the skies clear and blue; the paths filled with butterflies dancing to the rhythm of nature; and I, despite walking over 30km this day, was extremely content witnessing such beautiful scenes. When you’re an avid world traveller with a lust to ‘see the world’ it’s easy to neglect some places that seem close to home; the mental world map in your head pleads to be filled with travel and experiences from far-off places rather than those within a small circle of home – Europe, in my case. But this is a ridiculous philosophy I realised as the accompanying world-class and stunning, mountainous scenery lit up my eyes as good as anything in New Zealand, South America and even Nepal did. I had never even considered coming to the Alps a few weeks back, and yet here I was loving it.

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          Following a ten hour day of walking where I had teamed up again with the Canadian girls and an adventure-enthusiast, American-Australian called Brooke, I was slightly off course as relentless talk of pizza and ice cream had roped me in and took me off my planned path and towards the Italian mountain town of Courmayeur – a pleasant and supposedly posh settlement that lay cuddled in the surrounding hills and mountains which left me with an annoying accommodation problem.

      As far as shelter goes, there are two main accommodation options for hikers undertaking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, and these were A) Refuges – the most popular option which were large houses essentially serving as hostels offering dormitory-style accommodation with meals, and B) Camping – the budget and, of course, most fun option. Being forever a budget traveller I was tactically following the camping sites around the trail, but a detour to Courmayeur meant tiredly wandering around the town in twilight at the end of a long day to find a refuge. I swiftly learned refuges could only be found in the mountains and that, also, there was nowhere to wild camp in a town surrounded by vertical landscapes. This left me reluctantly forking out for a hotel. Oh, the backpacker ego pain of becoming a tourist for one night! Still, c’est la vie I told myself; me and the three girls had a memorable day’s hike, good conversations and a bountiful dinner. Yes, eating a 15-inch pizza and drinking beer with brand new friends after a long day’s adventure in the mountains is how every day should finish I told myself. There may have been pain, sweat and more expense than I planned, but it’s the memories that count. In a world where people can get lost in numbers, money and possessions, always it’s the experience that is most important.

          The next two days I made my way out of the Italian section of the tour and into the Swiss section. Another long day’s 30km+ walk out of Courmayeur further along the south side of the Massif had left me with painful blisters on my feet and the usual weight-loss I had experienced twice already this year on my multi-day hikes in Nepal. A few tinned cans of spaghetti and tuna with a load of biscuits and fruit wasn’t exactly enough for long days spent in the sun climbing over 2500m passes with a 15kg backpack. But still, there was always time to recover. And if you’re going to take a day off to recover, eat and drain blisters on your feet then why not do it in one of the most beautiful towns you’ve ever seen. In this case, Champex – a gorgeous and relatively small tourist town in Switzerland that had a lake in its centre filled with crystal clear water reflecting the blue sky – the perfect place to laze, gaze into the mountains, read and drink some wine. I arrived here with my new hiking friend from the Ukraine – a family man and aerospace engineer who had started the hike the same day as me and was eager to power through to the end. Having never met anyone from the Ukraine, I was eager to speak with him and share the experience. He proved to be an extremely friendly and all-round good IMG_1275.JPGperson – eagerly sharing stories, offering food and drink and informing me about wild fruits as he foraged for small, edible berries along the trail. Following the first night in Champex where we drank wine, ate and chatted as the sun went down behind the enveloping hills, we parted ways as he pressed on and I took the day off, taking it easy before resuming the second half of the trail the next day. Three more days of hiking left I noted, as I studied the map and guide.

          Walking alone on this hike proved to be a great decision so far. On one hand I had lots of time to solitarily wander, marvel at the mountainous expanse and listen to music while letting my mind wander; conversely on the other hand – because the hike was so popular with people of all group sizes, ages and shapes – there were also plenty of opportunities to speak to and team up with friendly hikers alongside the trail. As I made my way up and over the highest pass of the whole trek, I met Noam – a young Israeli guy who was also solo trekking. Like Ukraine, Israeli was a nationality of person I had never really encountered (at least not one on one) and ongoing chat showed that – despite borders, governments, cultures, religions, language and whatever else separates us – people are inherently similar and looking for the same things in life: usually to live their lives well with a sense of purpose, peace, community and fulfilment. We talked life and philosophy before sharing lunch atop the pass, gazing out at the spectacular view of the cutting valley and the dazzling glacier and white-watered river that streamed down into it. There below we camped and were joined again by Brooke – the American, Australian girl I had walked with previously to Courmayeur. With just two days left and the same way to go, we now had a trio of us to undertake the final miles as we headed back to the northern side and French valley that sat in the shadow of the Mont Blanc mountain. The end was nearing.

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          Following a relatively easy day’s walking of around ten miles, we rested, loaded up on food from the first supermarket in two days, and got tipsy off ‘hammer wine’ – 3 euros of low-quality, grape-filled goodness. My stomach was demanding calories as I hastily assembled an enormous French baguette and filled it with ridiculously cheap cheese (1.50 for 350g of Camembert!). This alongside the merriness of wine and good company meant a pleasant evening before undertaking the final day where we would climb up the mountain above to get the best panoramic views of the Mont Blanc Massif. Now joined by another friendly Israeli guy called Omer, we loaded up for the final time and immediately began a steep ascent of over 1000 vertical metres. Over the course of the trail, a hiker ascends and descends a total of 10,000m and this final day would make up a good portion of that with its relentless climb that even included vertical ladders and steps at one point. Climbing up an old rusty ladder on the side of a mountain with a big backpack and no safety harness really made you feel like Lara Croft or something.

      Finally all four of us made it to the top and took a short detour to the lakes beside us. We arrived here sweaty and exhausted after the thigh-stabbing final ascent and immediately sank down besides the rocks to eat, drink and rest. The scenery around us was breath-taking; the first lake was surrounded by shining green grass and lay directly in front of a panoramic and cinematic view of the Mont Blanc massif where enormous distant spikes and mountain faces zig-zagged their way along the horizon as they displayed their snowy peaks and glaciers. An array of colours dazzled my eyes in a dreamy dance of blue skies, white snow, green grass and reflective, crystal-clear waters. Mont Blanc stood gleaming clear opposite us across the valley.

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    I had the privilege of seeing a few spectacular views this year, but this was right up as the most stunning alongside the close-up view of Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks. The world and our reality truly is a work of art, and I could never get bored of this universal painting. Like a tourist in a gallery, I observed and marvelled at the views some more before me, Brooke and Omer jumped in and swam within the icy cold glacier water of Lac Blanc – much to the amusement of surrounding, photo-snapping tourists. We swiftly emerged freezing and refreshed, ready to head down the mountain and conclude the trek where it started – in the town of Chamonix. It, sadly, was the end of this adventure. C’est la vie; c’est la vie.

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the hiking team

       And so after eleven days, eight days of hiking, three countries and over 110 miles of good experiences, sites and people, I sat at the foot of my tent sipping beer and staring up into the mountains once more. I was alone again having said goodbye to the others – a natural and forever common occurrence in the world of backpacking. The last days had been exactly what I would call a perfect equilibrium of existence while we go about passing the time as we live and breathe on this floating rock in space. Days spent in beautiful natural environments, with changing landscapes, new faces, few worries and good memories is what it is all about.

My trekking adventures this year had helped steady the fire that burns inside a restless, young soul wanting to experience the beautiful gift of reality we have found ourselves with. And the Alps and this hike had been an experience that surpassed expectations.

Les Alps, it is Au Revoir for now, but surely not for good.

How To Look After A Pet Human-Being In The 21st Century

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society”

 

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Congratulations! You are here because you have purchased your very first pet human and are ultimately looking for the best advice and insight into looking after and nurturing your animal toward a happy, healthy and productive life! What separates the 21st century human from many of its animal contemporaries is the high level of cognitive intelligence and power that it has the possibility to yield in its abstract DNA. Such development and qualities can potentially mean having a human as a pet can be a far more encumbering and work-heavy experience than other pets as the typical human demands more to look after and regiment into a routine lifestyle. Fortunately years of conditioning, engineering and homogenisation by veterinary experts has led to the development of an array of cages, products and advice at hand that can now allow owners to have the beautiful experience of owning a pet human stress-free! Here are some of the essential tips and advice on how to go about looking after your animal and setting up its cage as it goes through its life happily with no alarms and no surprises for you, the owner!

The Wheel 

pet humanLike most animals of cognitive intelligence, your pet human will need some sense of routine in its life to help it lead a happy and fulfilling life – not to mention a mechanism for which this fabulous creature can focus all of its magnificent energy upon. Such needs can be nurtured with the addition of a spinning plastic wheel to its cage in which for the animal to instinctively run endlessly around all day. Once this item is purchased and fitted, a happy and healthy human will typically spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week exercising on its wheel, repeating its conditioned habits again and again as the weeks fly by. The sheer routine of this will provide the animal with a sense of purpose, belonging, mission goals and it will furthermore also act as a vent in which for it to tire itself out during the day, allowing it to sleep and rest thoroughly during the night. As we all know, there is nothing more annoying than a noisy pet banging against the cage and keeping you awake during the night – not to mention the troublesome thought of it escaping! End that worry now by purchasing a pet wheel from the range of hundreds of thousands currently on the market!

Vitamins and Treats

drunk in clubTo keep your humans happy, healthy and productive in their cage, it is acceptable to provide them with certain vitamins on a moderate basis. A good owner will purchase the three essential treats of Caffeine, Tobacco and Alcohol – these three tasty items can be found at any local store and will help supplement your pets living habits and keep them healthily running on the cage wheel efficiently and routinely. For example: caffeine provided to them Monday to Friday will maintain their alertness and concentration, keeping them efficiently running on their wheel in the week; a healthy dose of tobacco will further supplement this behaviour by acting as an aid to vent any stress that may come with such hectic work endeavours; and finally filling their water bottles with alcohol at the weekend will get any remaining problems out of their system whilst also resetting their batteries before they begin their acclimatisation back to their routine the following week. It’s all apart of the animals’ natural living habits so it would be cruel not to provide them with these healthy treats!

Important note: please remember not to feed your animals any of the ‘other’ substances on the pet market; such treats ARE NOT natural to their being, may damage their living habits and won’t be beneficial to you, the owner.

Media

tv petLiving life in a cage may often cause your pet to dream of escape (yes, your pet human dreams too). It is only natural for such an intelligent creature to want to discover what’s beyond its confines; however we as good owners know that the outside world is a dangerous and perilous place for the domesticated human and it would be poor ownership to let it out into the scary and risky domain beyond those bars! Fortunately such behaviour can be fairly controlled by providing your pet human with a constant, daily stream of media for which to meet its dreams and needs of escapism. For example: fitting a television in its cage will keep it hypnotically entertained with shows of their fellow species competing in singing competitions and reality dating shows; tabloid newspapers will furthermore help them realise the true nature of their dangerous and perilous world beyond those bars, meaning they will slowly lose their mischievous thoughts of trying to escape their cage! With a never-ending stream of shows, celebrity magazines and sensationalist tabloid news, your pet will be spoilt for choice and will become slowly homogenised and relaxed to the condition it lives in – thus allowing you and your pet to both lead calmer lives as it becomes happy with the cage it occupies.

Play Toys

iphone-6-ios-simulation-2Finally, just as a dog needs a bone and a cat needs a piece of string, a human also needs playful items to help keep it preoccupied when going about its daily routine. If your pet human is consistently keeping itself busy on its wheel, you may wish to reward it by providing it with a few key play items to maintain its happiness and well-being. Such items over the years have become popular with their species and treating them regularly to the latest smartphones, the latest designer clothes, the latest apps, the latest automobiles, and the latest furniture may prove to be a timely venture, but it will ultimately keep your much-loved pets happy and productive in their cages – allowing you the owner to sit back and relax whilst your animals lovingly adorn their shiny and pretty possessions! Such items are accessible in shops and stores nationwide, so please don’t be hesitant in treating your humans to the fun little balls of joy they truly deserve!


As you can no doubt see, the sheer array of needs to fulfil for your new pet may seem daunting at first, but after providing them with the above and getting to know your human’s habits and personality, you will soon to be on your way to a loving relationship as you nurse over your animal from day-to-day! Just remember that although the pet human may be more of a challenge to look after than your typical fish in a bowl, the sense of ownership, power and fulfilment you gain from raising such a magnificent being will ultimately be worth the cost of your care and attention. At the end of the day humans just want to be kept from harm and looked after without the worries of the fearsome natural world – with the right amount of domestication, regimentation and engineering, not only will your pet human be happy and safe, but it will also be your best friend.

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Life Is An Opportunity: Go All The Way

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Naked and screaming you arrived: a living, breathing organism made of flesh, skin and bones on a rock spinning a thousand miles per hour as it levitates around a giant ball of fire in an infinite universe of exploding stars, black holes and myriad galaxies. You arrived in your physical form with a body to explore with, a head to think with and time to play with – time that is, to undertake the brief, bittersweet journey that we call life. Planet earth is the stage for that journey – a playground of immense beauty where there are endless possibilities and where one thing can’t be denied – that from the day we are born til the day that we all die: life here is an opportunity.

It is an opportunity for us to come to terms with the mind-blowing scenario of life on this floating rock and decide how we are going to make the most of it. To decide how many of our dreams we are going to follow; to decide how many places we are going to visit; to decide how any professions we are going to undertake; to decide how many people we are going to share our journey with. Life is an opportunity – a chance to make our lives extraordinary and daring; a chance for all of us to push the lever of life down hard, chase the horizon and explore our wildest dreams. Life is an opportunity.

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Yet when one looks at the world and society, how many people can honestly say they are pushing the lever down hard? Who are doing all that they can to make the most of their existence in the universe? Who are either chasing or living their dreams? We are all different, and one person’s version of a life well-lived is different to another’s, but so commonly as individuals we are dis-empowered and discouraged to neglect our dreams and passions (no matter how ridiculous they are) in order the be moulded and shaped by the cultures in which we are raised to live a life that is just ‘okay’ and ‘safe’. We forget that life is an opportunity and do things not because it’s true to our own nature, but in order to keep up with culture; to do something because everybody else ‘does that’ and because other people expect it of us. We dis-empower ourselves, forget the extraordinary reality of our existence on the levitating rock and don’t take full advantage of the opportunity of life.

That is why every now and again, one of us has to come forward from the herd and remind people that they are all individuals; that they are free – free to chase their dreams and dance the ridiculous dance of life in an infinite universe – free to abandon ideology and a culture that is oppressive to the true nature of the individual self. That they are free to realise once more that life is an opportunity for the artist to create beautiful works of art; for the athlete to set new records; for the scientist to find new cures for diseases; for the builder to create new structures; for the explorer to explore new places. It is a moment in time where the individual has the brief period of a few decades to make the most of their ticket in the playground of planet earth. And not to let anyone, any culture or any ideology hinder his or herself in any way, shape or form.

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When Martin Luther King stood up to fight for the freedom of black Americans, he knew that he would put himself in grave danger – but he also knew life was an opportunity. When Darwin published his revolutionary theory of evolution that shapes the way he see nature now, he knew he would be hounded by the religious establishment – but he also knew life was an opportunity. When Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hilary first ascended Mount Everest they knew the immense dangers involved – but they also knew life was an opportunity. They knew that such an existence is precious and finite – and thus an opportunity to go all the way; to stand up for humanity and push the boundaries of exploration, passion and adventure.

And so, just like them, it is down to each and every one of us to explore our passions and dreams – no matter how big or small they may be deemed. It is down to us to look in the mirror, gaze into the eye of self and say: what am I doing right now to live my life the best I can? What am I doing this week that keeps me on track to taking full advantage of this extraordinary reality I am a part of? Ultimately, what am I doing to go all the way in this magical and beautiful world? Because, as far as we know, there is only one life. So push the lever down hard; make the most of it. Explore. Dream. Discover. Create.

This is your opportunity.

Why You Should Consider Travelling After University

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Okay, you finish university this summer and you’re still unsure about what to do with your life. You pick up the rule-book of our capitalist society and flick to the chapter after university. ‘Chapter Five: Post-Degree Life’“You must now apply for a job in a business and field that you can see yourself working in for the rest of your career, nine hours a day, five days a week, year after year.” You read on with trepidation: “you must do this so that you can get a deposit on a house, get a brand new car, a new wardrobe, get those items advertised to you on the TV, and you must get all of this before your peers do”.

All those possessions you could have – the security; the comfort; the routine. If everyone chases these things instantly then surely you have to as well? Surely it’s the only way, right? Well, twenty-one years into my life and in my last year of university, I can safely say that I don’t own a lot of the aforementioned stuff, but the experiences I do have are something infinitely more valuable to my life. Yes, in the past I have threw out the car money so I could stay in Africa one summer working as a journalist and hanging out with a bunch of rastafarians; I threw out the deposit money so I could fly to Australia/Thailand and parachute, sail, cage-dive and party my way around the coast with a bunch of strangers; I threw out the wardrobe money so I could cycle my way through European countries, seeing the sights, raising money for charity and sampling the beers along the way.

The best thing about these possessions is that – unlike the stuff in the capitalist rulebook that I’m meant to obtain – these are things that aren’t mass-manufactured and can’t be lost with bankruptcy, divorce or some gambling addiction. They are locked up within myself, where they can never be compromised. So you have to ask yourself: which possessions are more valuable to you as a person currently in your life? Experiences or ‘stuff’?

In case you can’t work out with side I’m leaning to, it’s most definitely the experience side for me. We live on a crazy, convoluted, messed-up planet and only tread its vibrant soil but once; why would you want to spend it all in one routine, one job, one culture, one house, chasing all the items your neighbours have? Why would you not take this moment in time where the right combination of technology, political stability and infrastructure has allowed us to travel to multiple far-off places for the first time? Stories are created. Strangers become friends. Insights are gained. Experiences become possessions.

Perhaps this phenomenon can be further highlighted by looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – a model that defined the common order people chase their human needs. Although just a theory on a theory, it’s a good way to reflect some possible ideas.

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As you can see, ‘security of body, of employment, of resources, of the family, of the health, of property‘ are some of the basic needs near the bottom of the pyramid that can be possessed in conjunction with work, mortgages, savings and material goods. But what about the self-actualisation and esteem qualities of ‘morality, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, respect of others, confidence, self-esteem, spontaneity‘ and those near the top of the pyramid? Will you grow those from material goods? Will you develop those immediately getting stuck doing something you have no interest in for forty-five years?

It is obviously dependant on you, your own personal interests, your relationships and what you seek to get out of, contribute and achieve from working in your particular field; however it’s more than likely for a lot of people – still unsure of what career (if any) will fulfil them – that those things can currently grow from the amazing opportunity of travel where you can gain perspective, learn first-hand about the world and experience other cultures, ideas and peoples – rather than sit at at the same desk every day in a job you’re not interested just to mindlessly chase the word ‘successful’. Just remember that the term ‘successful’, used in the context of the working world, is one constructed by a capitalist ideology – the parameters of which are measured by money and market share: things that were again constructed by other people that aren’t you. Don’t be instantly pressured into something you don’t want to do by such a debatable, problematic and relative term.

So go and travel. Go and travel if you still don’t know what to do with your life. Especially if you haven’t been before. Ignore your tutors who want you to constantly chase ‘success’; ignore mum and dad who want to see you ‘grow up’; ignore the TV that tells you to work to buy the latest car. Respond. Respond against a system that can hinder you. Go and catch a plane to an exotic country; go and hike through the expansive wilderness; go experience other cultures; go and party to the early morning on a beach with a bunch of strangers; go and spend your days gazing out at sea and your nights looking up at the stars.

If you don’t have the money then work for a bit, or combine the two and work while you’re away – working visas and teaching schemes are common in many countries and are a part of such experiences. Don’t worry about falling behind – you can still have all those other items and fulfil those other important needs later on in life; just take the lack of responsibility, proliferation of good health and the complete freedom and liberation that this age brings to head off with a flimsy backpack and see our bewildering world. There’s a good chance you will discover what you want to do with your life whilst out there travelling. And if you end up in a mundane job working for the human necessities of family, security and home, at least you took your chance to possess enriching experiences on top of those when you had the chance.

Just remember that after the rule-book is read, the adverts consumed, the paycheck cashed, the garage occupied and the wardrobe full – travel, like education, is one of the few things you buy that makes you richer.

How To Save Up For A Backpacking Trip

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Okay, so you’ve got it all planned. You’ve dropped a pin on a map of the world, found your far-off destination, researched all the crazy things you want to do and are itching to throw your clothes and camera into a bag and jump into the glistening, pure pool of adventure travel. A sense of excitement warms your soul and you begin to float towards the heavens – but suddenly the quantum reality of the universe pulls you back down and reminds you to check your bank account. You view your account balance: $32.04. Enough to get you to the next town maybe, but not to the corners of the earth. You realise you’re gonna have to save up to afford this next adventure.

This is such a battle global backpackers go through time and time again. If you were lucky enough in the game of life to be spawned in a first-world country then even working for the minimal wage will be enough to get you out in the world to travel; in fact, there are many people out there who travel with little to no money – but that’s another story. With a sense of grit, determination, patience and by just being sensible with money, it’s possible to save enough to go anywhere you want. Here are some things to think about as you save for your next backpacking trip.


Do I really need it, or do I just want it?

A few minutes walking around any city centre will see your eyes swamped by a starry universe of advertisements for clothes, products, gadgets and expensive cuisine. It may have just been payday and you’re itching to shower yourself in such luxuries, but it’s adult-18774_960_720useful to step back and think whether any of that stuff is of any use to you as you save up for your travelling adventure. In fact it is during backpacking trips that many people come back to basics and realise the small amount of things that you need to get through the day. These are: food, water, oxygen and shelter (sometimes even this is a luxury on the road). Put simply, these are the fundamental things you need in order to survive – cutting out the luxuries or other things we’re led to believe are ‘necessities’ will see you saving hundreds of pounds/euros/dollars/pesos each month. How much you are willing to embrace ‘the simple life’ will reflect how much you begin to save. So skip lunch at Nandos and grab a potato salad from the nearest supermarket.

Find extra ways to make money

Seven times in the past I have took a dive into the unknown of pharmaceutical testing and donated my body to medicinal research. Essentially I became a human guinea-pig where my time and body were used to test new medicines. While this sounds scary and crazy to anyone I mention it to, the reality is that it is very safe, ethically approved and thousands of these studies are conducted every year in most developed countries. Such ventures allowed me to save additional hundreds of pounds for a backpacking trip in South America, a long-distance bike ride in Central Europe and ongoing travels (including a cage-dive with great-whites!) within Australia whilst I was there. This is just one example of another way to gain income besides work, but if that’s not for you – look elsewhere. Get a weekend job; sell your unused possessions; go into a casino and prepare to win millions (I take no responsibility for the consequences of this one).

Get rid of your car

Yes, that shiny metallic stallion that gets you around town may be your immediate ticket to freedom, but in the long run of saving up for an adventure it can be anything but that. Cars, while great to get around, are ultimately a massive consumer of your finances that can see thousands being spent on fuel, insurance, tax and repairs. If you have legs and have a job that is accessible by bicycle or public transport (your ego may have to take a hit), then sell the car, store the money from it and start counting the hundreds you will no doubt save each month. Hey, if you even live in a hitch-hiker friendly country maybe even try hitching around – it is a genuine mode of travel that will be extremely useful to you on your travels.

Stop drinking and smoking

If you’re really passionate about strapping on that backpack and going on a grand adventure then your hedonistic vices may have to be suppressed for a while. Oh the humanity – the reality sinks in and one hears the groans for miles as the thoughts of beer-2218900_960_720.jpggiving up those weekend sessions or fag breaks for the near future ring cold and clear. The simple fact is that nights out, drinking and smoking see massive amounts of disposable income being spent in the matter of a view hours in a bar or club – all for you to be left with a hangover and a need to spend even more money on fast food hangover cures the day after. Give it up. Your body and wallet will thank you for it I assure you. And if you thinking this is rich advice, know that this is coming from a very keen drinker numerously accused of being an alcoholic who is currently two months sober on the road to adventure – my longest period sober in the last six years!


The list could really go on longer when focusing on the cultural, consumerist spending habits of people in modern day society, but it really is as simple as looking at where your money is going and taking control of your finances and life. We live in a world of distractions, advertisements and temptations where you will be shown hundreds of ways to spend your money every day. But ultimately it’s you who is in control of your spending habits and if you’re serious about getting out there in the world of adventure, then it is up to you to look at how your money could be saved.

With a little first-world austerity, and some simple temporary lifestyle changes, you’ll be surprised at how quick those travel tokens rack up in your bank account.

Why Travel Is The Purest Form Of Rebellion

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Rebellion
: an angst-ridden word that brings about images of uprisings, stoic defiances and Bastille-esque overthrows.

In fact defined as  “the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention”, said action or process can be realised in workers’ strikes, protests, political movements or even in fashion and subculture – groups such as Punks, Hipsters or Bikers going against societal expectations in the way they act and the way they style themselves. But when one looks at these things holistically, we can so often witness a way everything spirals around and each one is ultimately fallible to the system. Worker’s strikes can only last for a set period of time before their livelihood collapses; protests can spiral out of control with protesters getting arrested by authority and their voice ignored; subculture styles are capitalised on by advertising and marketing companies reciprocating the trends back to them in order to profit off their rebellion. Through the resistance of it all, so often it ends with ‘the man’ getting his way. However, there is another act of rebellion that has the capability to evade such capture and compromise – a ‘movement’ and lifestyle that resists conventions, control and authority to a much larger degree than any of the aforementioned examples.

Travel. Backpacking. Wandering. The act or process of venturing to new places, new people, new horizons and new worlds. Packing your few possessions into a flimsy backpack and leaving your home, system and conventions behind; setting your eyes to the horizon and relentlessly aspiring to wander to the next place and the next experience. In the act of adventure travel, one becomes distanced from the overarching prism of society where the mechanisms of control and convention may dictate the way for a period of time, but never for the duration. When one uses all their money to voyage to a new place and not on things that tie them to a single society, how can specific conventions, control and authority be a part of that person’s life? When one systematically moves from society to society throughout the years, how can one individual society’s rules and views be implemented onto that person in any effective way?

The answer is that they can’t. Societies and political structures rely on people’s lives being static and still in one place, and if one becomes nomadic in nature and lives a life of physical movement, then the mechanisms of an individual society lose their influence drastically. To travel is to rebel. No monthly mortgage payments; no permanent job and pension scheme; no expenditure being used on consuming advertised or marketed products; no singular exposure to bias, samey media conveying everything one way. A single society’s foundations of control, authority and convention lose their zest when a person exists on a global scale. Yes, travellers adhere to laws and conventions when they are in a specific country, but when that stay is never set or fixed, any long-term hold over that traveller becomes marginal – all they need is a few hundred dollars and then all of it is left behind again.

French philosopher Albert Camus said that “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion” and perhaps travellers/backpackers are the ultimate embodiment of this. A life of movement and adventure is not compatible with the system – after all if everyone were to live a nomadic existence then the conventions, control and authority of single societies would be completely disrupted. The system would buckle, be forced to change to be reborn. And as far as rebellion goes, it can so often consist of violence, intent to destroy and something that eludes a sense of danger – however in travel we see a form of rebellion that is arguably entirely ‘pure’ and harmless.  

Most travellers’ (the good ones) aims and ambitions are to explore, to enrich, to learn, to anew and to experience; many work jobs locals don’t want to do on working holiday visas in countries and many teach languages and spend money they gained from first world countries in third world countries – a direct transfer of money from the rich to the poor empirically bridging the international poverty gap. To associate this kind of rebellion with anything as negative as violence or a clashing of two sides is just not correct; if anything it resembles more of a peaceful protest. A pure rebellion. An act where the world and its people become enriched, thoughtful,  less materialistic, less judgemental and close-minded.

So angry with the system or disillusioned with the lack of options your society gives you? Sick of working a soul-less job for a faceless corporation whose only aim is to line the pockets of their bureaucrat bosses and investors? Don’t destroy, don’t protest, don’t get angry, don’t strike. Travel. Move, explore and experience other societies; engage in other ways of thinking and new philosophies; tread new grounds and gain new perspectives in a true peaceful protest. Reply. Respond. Rebel. Perhaps in a world of chaos, scandals and corruption, it’s the last escape from the corrupted system that free-spirited souls truly have.