Why I quit my job to travel the world
On a warm November morning in central Sydney, I strolled into my comfortable, interesting, secure inner-city job - and I quit.
I didn't have much money but I did have an idea: to journey from my mum's backyard to the other side of the world with as few planes as possible.
What was I thinking?
Another travel blog. Really?
It's a cliche, I know.
You pack up shop, quit your job, sell your stuff, and hit the road.
Then comes the travel-blogging, the instagramming, the gratuitous self-promotion, and the guilty (or perhaps not-so-guilty) pleasure of lording it over those at home wishing they're doing the same.
There is sunshine, beaches and palm trees. Muscles, bikinis and tans. Little umbrellas in colourful cocktails. Abandon and debauchery. Endless fun and no responsibility, and what appears to be limitless budgets.
I have no real qualm with today's travel blogging go-tos. They serve a genuine purpose, they seem popular and have a market.
But too often, travel writing and blogging itself succumbs to an inward-looking narrative. It is often boring and it is often repetitive.
Many explore the same handful of destinations that may certainly be worth a visit. It's just that there has been so much written on Bali or Phuket, on New York or Rome, that I'm not sure what's left to say.
But, in the end, I quit my job too. I did pack up shop. I sold my stuff, and I hit the road. I made this website.
So why is One Road to London any different?
Less selfies, more stories
Throughout 2018, I'll travel from my hometown of Adelaide, Australia to London, England, almost entirely overland.
It's a trip that will take me the breadth of the earth, across deserts and oceans, plateaus and peaks.
My aim is to share a fresh perspective on a global adventure, exploring some of the deeper issues, cultural quirks and environmental oddities that stoked my wanderlust, as well as providing a genuine insight into the good times and the bad that an odyssey between antipodes offers its protagonist.
There will be fewer selfies of me than there will be stories of those I meet.
There won't be reviews of hotels (I can't afford hotels, anyway) or restaurants, but there will be reported features and essays from some of Earth's quieter corners.
By traveling almost entirely overland, I'll try to shine a light on the shades of grey in between ever-homogenising global metropolises, instead of leap-frogging all the tricky bits.
This project is an honest insight
One Road to London will be an honest and informative reflection of the joys and hardships of travel, and a cohesive snapshot of the world in 2018.
It is an addictive sensation being alone in a part of the world where you don't know a soul and can't speak a word. Though the truth is that for all the fun times, there are just as many that are horrible and make you question what the hell you left for.
And 2018 is an unusual moment in world history. Despite the plethora of challenges, today's world is more prosperous, peaceful, and connected than ever before.
Few times in history could a product of the middle-class endeavour between the opposite ends of the Earth through countries almost entirely at peace. But, despite regional sabre-rattling and localised violence, this project sees me doing just that.
One Road to London aims to capture this broad spectrum - providing a snapshot of today's world and an honest appraisal of travel itself - through a journey I've been hoping to complete since I first traced my fingers across raised-relief globes as a bright-eyed '90s kid growing up on the bottom of the world.
A unique route
I'll be kicking off in the heart of the Australian summer on January 11, my 27th birthday, setting north in my $1200 station wagon from Adelaide on a 3000 kilometer drive to Darwin.
From there, I'll head to Timor Leste before crossing into Indonesia and beginning a 6-island-hop to Malaysia, where the overland trip really begins.
The route is particularly vulnerable to change. Some borders close and open with what appears to be their own free will. And the mysteries of bureaucracy - coupled with my embarrassing monolingualism - will cause some headaches and improvisation.
But, as of today I hope to head north through South East Asia towards Yunnan, where the pace will pick up as I take advantage of China's fast-rail, cross Mongolia into Russia, and then pivot south through Central Asia and towards the Caucasus.
From the Balkans and Eastern Europe, I'll race towards the white Cliffs of Dover, arrive in London, put up my feet, and enjoy a warm pint of ale late in the English summer.
Over the coming days, weeks and months, I'll share some more details about what's to come. But in short, One Road to London is really the sum of three projects:
Project 1: Home to Homeland
Throughout 2017, I met Australians with family histories that can be traced all over the world: from a Mongolian throat singer to a Kyrgyz mother-of-three, to a PhD student from inland China and a chef from Tbilisi, Georgia.
Over the coming months, I'll be telling their stories, and visiting their families and friends who remain in their hometowns all over the world.
Project 2: DISPATCHES
On the road, I'll be reporting stories of people, places and current affairs. Check out some of my earlier work here.
Project 3: Life in Motion
Life in Motion brings you along for the ride. Through travel logs, photos, videos and more, this project lets you see what I see. Everything will be pinned to the Interactive Map, letting you explore - to the meter - what I explore.
The road from here
To keep up to date between travel logs, follow One Road to London on Instagram and Facebook. And for anyone with ideas, stories, comments, or who are keen to meet up on the road, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 22, 2018.