Chris Guillebeau is an author and entrepreneur. He has visited every country on Earth. Chris runs a blog called The Art of Non-Conformity and has written several fantastically useful books. I interviewed him for my Grand Adventures project (which has included such diverse characters as astronauts, climbers, polar explorers and adventurers).
1. People worry that returning home from big adventures can leave a void in their lives that “real life” will struggle to fill. How did you cope with returning to normal life after your time in Africa?
They are right to worry. It’s tough to detox from adventure! So-called normal life can be quite different from an adventure abroad, and not everyone back home will understand what you’ve been through and how it’s changed you. In my case, I spent a couple months going around telling people all about my time in West Africa — before realizing that I was mostly talking to myself. I finally took the time to emotionally process the experience, and then used it to begin my next adventure of visiting every country in the world.
2. Starting a big adventure is like starting a small business: exciting, envy-inducing, but often too scary and daunting to actually take the first step. What advice would you give to someone feeling this way?
My advice: make the first step very easy. The first step could be going to the bookstore and getting the guide book for your planned destination, or researching online about the big idea you have. Then, right away, plan the next step. At some point, find someone else who’s done something similar to what you plan—and ask them how they did it. Most importantly, think ahead and ask yourself if you’ll regret *not* taking the action you want. If the answer is yes, your next step may be scary, but you’ll know you have to do it.
3. You’ve travelled round the whole world. Young people sometimes worry that going on a long journey will leave a hole in their resume that will not look good to prospective employers. What do you say to that?
I think that’s a crazy idea. What employer wouldn’t be interested in a young person (or a person of any age) who’s taken the time to learn about the world?
4. How can someone earn money on a big trip (a trip like cycling the length of Africa, for example)?
Well, that’s a complicated question. I don’t actually think that people earn money strictly by traveling. I’ve traveled semi-professionally for a decade, but I don’t have sponsors and no one pays me to go from place to place. Instead, you have to craft something of value—just as you would if you were at home. You can work from the road, no doubt, but generally I think it’s easier to figure out the support angle before you leave.
5. If I gave you £1000 ($1500), what adventure could you go and do for that? You can answer however you like!
£1000 is a lot. With a few exceptions, you could probably fly just about anywhere in the world and stay in hostels for at least a week if not longer. My current adventure (well, this week…) is in Hong Kong and South Korea — so I’d take the funds and stay in Kowloon, where I’ve been many times, and go on long walks through the area to some of my favorite stomping grounds. Then I’d fly to Seoul, where I’m writing from now, and see friends in Gangnam.
But your adventure can be anything you’d like.
My new book, Grand Adventures, is out now.
It’s designed to help you dream big, plan quick, then go explore.
The book contains interviews and expertise from around 100 adventurers, plus masses of great photos to get you excited.
I would be extremely grateful if you bought a copy here today!
Thank you so much!