There are many different ways to travel around the world and for some, your basic all-inclusive resort experience just won’t cut it. If your kind of travel is more about self-discovery than selfies, find inspiration for your next journey from these ten adventurous world travelers who went off the beaten path and share their incredible travel stories with all who are ready for a dose of armchair travel. They grab their bags, fill their waist packs with photography gear, and pack their travel journals so they can bring you stories, videos, and photos from all over the world.
You never know what you’ll learn about yourself when you challenge yourself and experience the unexpected as you look to find your unknown.
A Journey to Rival the Odyssey
“People sometimes refer to me as an explorer, but I am not. Those who follow maps are adventurers, those who wrote the maps were the explorers.” – Karl Bushby
Karl Bushby is attempting to be the first person to completely walk an unbroken path around the world. He began his quest, known as the Goliath Expedition , in 1998 at the tip of South America and is still on the move. He hopes to reach his home in England soon, and as of 2020 he was encountering some visa obstacles, but is still committed to finishing his walking adventure. At journey’s end, he’ll have walked over 36,000 miles, through icy seas, mountains, and deserts , across four continents and two dozen countries. You can find updates on his whereabouts on his Facebook page .
Forbidden Travels to a Forbidden City
"Ever since I was five years old, a tiny precocious child of Paris, I wished to move out of the narrow limits in which, like all children of my age, I was then kept. I craved to go beyond the garden gate, to follow the road that passed it by, and to set out for the Unknown." – Alexandra David-Neel
Famous French explorer Alexandra David-Neel made history in the early 1900s by walking, disguised as a male beggar, across China and Tibet and into the forbidden and fabled city of Lhasa. She then wrote over 30 books about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels, until her death at age 101. It is said that her teachings influenced beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. She is surely one of the greatest female adventurers of the 20th century, and her travel stories also rank as some of the best travel books of our time. Check out her entire collection of stories and be inspired—we particularly love her journey to Lhasa.
In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan
“Mountains never meet… but people do” – Tim Cope
Tim Cope is no stranger to unusual travel methods. His feats, which have included traveling by bicycle, rowboat, skies, horse, and camel, caught the attention of National Geographic. He has been awarded by the famous publication both Adventure Honoree and Australian Adventurer of the Year.
His travel story? In 2004, he set off to cross the 10,000 km between Mongolia and Hungary by horse, on the trail of Genghis Khan—a journey that took over three years to complete. He later wrote a bestselling book and created a documentary series about his journey. He now has half a dozen travel books detailing each part of his amazing experiences, and each one is worth a read.
In the words of Tim himself:
“Journeys are integral to all our lives. They present testing challenges, moments of exquisite reward and insight, and times when you are racked by self-doubt and problems. Battling it out involves confronting fears, making yourself vulnerable, aiming for something worthy and clinging onto self-belief and passion even when it seems that everything is stacked against you. In the end a journey invariably offers us a chance to learn and grow and reach out for our dreams.”
“The dancing gives me an opportunity to see places I'd never get to otherwise. I love to travel. The people and experiences have taught me a great deal.” – Matt Harding
In 2003, Matt Harding quit his day job to embark on a journey that would lead him to more than 39 countries in seven continents. Best known for a dance that looks very similar to running in place while snapping, Matt and his dance eventually attracted the attention of Stride Gum. The company then then paid Matt to travel, dance and record videos.
Matt has danced with locals in Mulindi, Rwanda; in a narrow canyon in Petra, Jordan; on a lush hillside overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru; and in a crowded street in Tokyo, Japan, all on his sponsor's dime. Although he no longer actively updates his website, the videos live on, as does his collection of short travel stories on social media and elsewhere, and make for an entertaining and inspiring journey around the world.
From Peak to Peak
“It’s important to try to encourage kids to go outside and protect public land.” – Matt Moni
Every state has its highest point, and Matt Moniz has climbed them all. By the age of 12, Matt had already earned the record of being the youngest climber to summit all 50 high points in the United States in the least amount of time.
His journey, which lasted just 43 days, took him from the lowest high point in Florida to the highest point in Alaska. Matt's travels have extended beyond the U.S. as well; he has climbed Mount Elbrus in Russia and Mount Kilimanjaro and is planning to hike all of the Seven Summits. In 2014, he became the youngest climber to make the trek up Makalu in the Himalayas, the fifth highest mountain in the world.
From Ice to the Desert
“That I was the first woman to reach the pole on a solo expedition was unimportant to me. It was the learning experience and the struggle to overcome the challenges that made the journey so rewarding and the prize so precious.” – Helen Thayer
Helen Thayer became the first woman to ski solo to the North Pole, at age fifty. Along with her husky Charlie, she traversed the landscape, temperatures, and threat of polar bears. At age 63, Helen walked across all 1,600 miles of the Gobi Desert. This unconventional explorer also kayaked 2,200 miles of the Amazon River and lived above the Arctic Circle, near a wolf’s den, all of which she’s written books about. Hint: You should read them!
Where Will You Go Next?
While your travels may not be as epic in scope as these adventurous travelers, every time we leave home we open ourselves up to new opportunities and color our experiences.
Best of luck on your next adventure as you make every step around the world one of inspiration sustainability, and adventure!
Caldera Travel Pack 45L
Pack-It Original Compression Cube Set S/M
Stash Waist Bag
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
4 Inspiring Female Travelers from the 20th Century
7 Ways World Travel is Good for Your Soul
8 Best Books for World Travelers