Andrew from AJWalton.com has a chat with us about his adventures around the world. He’s been on the road since 2013 and shows no signs of slowing down. For him, travel is the ultimate adventure.
What changes did you make in order to save money for your travels?
I sold almost all the stuff I couldn’t fit into my backpack, meaning my guitars, bass, drum kit, saxophone, and keyboard – among other things. I left my favorite axe with my parents (thanks!), but basically everything that couldn’t come with got the chopping block.
Honestly, I didn’t plan much in advance, so there wasn’t a lot of time to do much conventional saving. I had about 8 weeks from the idea until my launch, maybe less. So it was mostly a mad scramble to sell things!
What’s the best bit of travel advice you have ever received?
“See every place as if it’s your last time there.”
Sometimes due to budget concerns we may hold off on an excursion or activity that we really want to do. But if we really want it, we’d better do it now, because most cities we won’t get a 2nd look at. Out of all my travels, Paris is the only place outside North America I can say I’ve truly visited more than once.
What inspired you to start traveling?
The endless opportunity! I think for anyone who doesn’t know what type of career to go into back home – go overseas! For me, as a Canadian in Canada – I don’t stand out at all. I’d have to compete with 100s or 1000s people with the exact same qualifications for any decent job. It’s a crap-shoot.
Overseas though? You immediately stand out. I’ve worked for a million dollar a month company as the lead Search Marketing Analyst because of this. I mean, in any case you need to have the skills, but overseas you might find a place to use them!
What is your proudest accomplishment you achieved while traveling?
Becoming functionally fluent in Russian in under a year, which is supposed to be a relatively hard language for native English speakers. I don’t speak perfectly – far from it, but I’ve lead 2 job searches and made 2 hirings, taken university classes, and gone through a minor operation all in Russian. I’d call that a success.
What is your travel mantra?
Travel is the best investment you can make in yourself.
What has been the most under rated country you have been to and why?
Russia. When was the last time you heard something good about Russia in the media? I can’t think of a single time in all my life! In fact, I’m a little ashamed to admit that before I left home, Russia was one of the few places I had no intention of going.
Now my opinion has done a complete 180 – I would encourage any traveler looking at the insanely popular spots in Western Europe to shift their gaze east to Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
How to quickly sum up the world’s biggest country without resorting to trite cliches? It’s alive! It’s history is intimately tied to European history, and yet uniquely apart. This is reflected in the people, the culture, music, clothing, tradition, everything. You can see and feel the influence of the soviet era (especially the bureaucracy), and at the same time it’s got a bit of Western flavor mixed in – something you can feel but not quite identify. But most of all, it’s the people that make any place really feel special, and the Russian spirit has won me over.
In what ways, if any, has travel changed you?
It’s made me more aware of how our media and culture color our perceptions of other people’s and regions – and rarely in a positive way. It takes a long time and a lot of awareness to realize that people everywhere are basically the same, with similar wants and needs.
I’ve also seen how ridiculously privileged I am thanks to the circumstances of my birth. At every border crossing I basically get a free pass while my girlfriend Katia – Russian – gets the 3rd degree. She has her masters, more work experience, and more savings than I do, but she’s the one governments worry about coming in and working illegally because she was born in the wrong place.
I like to think all this has made me a more compassionate and understanding person who will find ways to do good for others.
Fast fun five…
If you could only describe yourself as one would it be: beach bum, city slicker or country bumpkin?
City Slicker 🙂
If you could travel back in time, which era and place would you go to and why?
I’d be fascinated to go back to ancient Rome around the time of Caesar and see what it was really like. So much of my cultural heritage stems from there, it would be fascinating to see how the average Roman citizen led their day to day.
If you could travel with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Emma Watson – who uses her celebrity position for good with a variety of charities and causes. It would give us something to talk about. I’d be too starstruck to talk to most celebrities about anything meaningful otherwise.
If someone was to make a movie about your travel life, what would it be called and who would play each of you?
I’d be played by Robert Downey Jr, who would make my quirkiness entertaining in the best possible way. Katia would be played by Tina Fey. I think these two would produce some unlikely chemistry on the screen, just like Katia and I do in real life.
What was the first overseas trip you took?
A 3 month journey to France and Italy, plus several day trips into Belgium. Some of my highlights were exiting the metro in front of the Eiffel Tour – basically my first view of Europe outside the airport; Learning to drive stick in a rental car on Sicily; Skiing in eastern France; Learning French and living on a farm in northern France for 2.5 months. This trip provided the spark that’s since turned into my nonstop travel lifestyle.