Interview With A Travel Expert: Will Hatton

Want a little more adventure in your life? Will Hatton, from The Broke Backpacker, knew he couldn’t be stuck at a boring, 9-to-5 job, so he became a professional, full-time traveler.

Wish you could do the same? Read on to see how you can get by on just $12 a day when traveling, where to find the most authentic cuisine during your journeys, and the scariest thing Will’s ever done!

Your blog, The Broke Backpacker, follows your travel adventures around the world. What made you decide to start the site? And what sets it apart from other travel blogs?

I started the site a while back simply so friends and family could keep up with what I was doing. Originally, my site looked god-damn terrible, and I didn’t really know how to write.

Over the years, I kept at it – keeping a record of my travels as I gallivanted around the world – and about 8 months ago I decided ‘screw it, I want to be a professional travel writer.’ I got a good friend to help me redesign the site, and I started putting in the effort, a good 30-40 hours a week when possible to write and share my pictures and experiences with others who want to find out about travelling around the world on an extreme budget.

You first started backpacking when you were 18 years old. What was it about your journey that made you realize you had the travel ‘bug’?

I guess the thing that most appealed to me about travel, at least in the beginning, is that it gives you multiple opportunities to re-invent yourself. You’re constantly meeting new people who know nothing about you, so you no longer have to be the shy kid that was good at maths (yeah, that was totally me). You can instead be a confident, interesting chap with a few travel tales under your belt.

Over the years, the reasons I continue to travel have evolved. Right now, I do it because its the best possible learning experience, and best standard of living that I can afford. I love meeting new people, seeing new things and conquering new mountains. I can travel around the world for a fraction of my basic living-costs back in the UK. So, for me, it actually makes financial sense to keep on exploring.

Back in 2011, you became a full-time traveler. What was the scariest part about giving up your regular 9-to-5 job at a travel company? And what was the most exciting part?

I actually didn’t make the decision to become a full-time writer until more recently, but I had been dabbling for a while. I decided to have a full on, 100%, give-it-all-I-have go at it and, within six months started to make enough to fund my travel lifestyle; a win in my book!

Losing my job was never a big problem for me, I knew I was never going to sit still behind a desk for long. In all honesty, the job had been mis-sold to me, and I ended up under a lot of pressure to make cold calls. Have you ever tried to sell someone a £3000 holiday down the phone? Yeah, I never sold one. It simply wasn’t for me, whilst I could have stuck it out I recognised that I was unhappy and decided to make a change.

Speaking of scary, you’ve had several close-call experiences while traveling (including motorbike crashes!). What’s the craziest misadventure you’ve had during your travels?

Ah, wow, where to start!? I’ve been held by Israeli border police whilst buck-naked, had a knife pulled on me in Nepal, been hospitalised in Costa Rica (with my leg very nearly being amputated) and yes, as you said, crashed several motorbikes.

It’s not all bad though; I’ve drunk tea with Burmese rebels, climbed the highest table top mountain in the world whilst wearing shorts (I wouldn’t recommend it) and chilled out with Buddhist monks whilst watching the clouds roll over Himalayan peaks…I’ve had some crazy times, a few of them bad, but most of them have been truly amazing. I feel extremely lucky to have been to the places I have been, met the people I have met and experienced so many epic adventures.

Over the past couple of years, you’ve become an expert at traveling on a budget. You’ve even gotten it down to where you can spend just $12 a day. What’s the most effective way to save money on travel accommodations?

Everything can be hacked!

When it comes to travelling on a budget I am really good at cutting down my costs. I hitchhike, I cook my own food when necessary and I couchsurf. I often travel with a tent so if I can’t get a couchsurfing or Trampolinn host, then I am not totally screwed…I very rarely pay for accommodation.

One of the best parts of travel is getting to try local cuisine. How do you make sure you’re sampling authentic food while still sticking to a budget?

It’s pretty simple really – go where the locals goz. If that’s the street then do not delay. My favourite food is, without a doubt, street food (Thai if you want to get specific) - it’s cheap, plentiful, and the variety is stunning!

You have a huge following on Twitter with over 26,000 (!) fans. Have you ever received a unique travel tip that you’ve ended up trying out yourself?

A long time ago, whilst packing my bag I shared my packing list online and somebody pointed out I had forgotten to take a pen. Always take a pen…Any good traveler should have three things; a headtorch, a decent knife, and a pen.

One of your goals in 2015 is to become one of the most well-known travel bloggers in the industry. Who do you think are the top travel bloggers out there today? And where would you love to be featured?

In a couple of weeks time, an article of mine is being published on news.com.au. After that, I plan to start approaching national and international papers. I have been to lots of places shunned by the travel community: Venezuela, Myanmar (in 2012), and Palestine, to name a few. Over the next year, I aim to explore Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Tibet; regions of the world rarely visited which are basically a black-hole of information.

In Venezuela, I found that pretty much everything I had been told about the country beforehand was inaccurate. I work closely with a few travel bloggers but Jazza and Lesh over at Nomadasurus, as well as Sab over at Just One Way Ticket are big inspirations for me. I have been working with Kach and Jon from the Two Monkeys for a long time now; we teamed up literally a couple of days after I decided to commit to travel blogging. All of the bloggers above are going to absolutely smash it this year in my opinion.

If I could be featured anywhere? Well, it has to be National Geographic, Huffington Post, and the BBC - those are, for me, the golden trio of travel blogging; if you can get published by them, you’ve made it.

The Stuff I Love section of your site details some of your favorite travel gear. What’s one surprising item you always remember to pack?

Never go anywhere without a Buff; it protects me from the sun, rain, and cold. In Nepal, it damn near saved my life.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Anything else you’d like the CouponPal readers to know?

If you want to hit the road, then just damn well do it. The timing will never be perfect, your situation will never be perfect; the hardest thing is making the decision to drop what you are doing and commit to having a better, more adventurous, life! And heck, if you see me on the road; come say hey, we can grab a beer! :)

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with an Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #Experts to @CouponPal!

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