What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?
I went to Washington University in St. Louis and got a degree in economics. After graduating I got a job in Management Consulting which I did for over two years. The only way this helped me get my current job is because of the network I built up. A friend introduced us to the company who I am now working with to create a travel TV show.
How did you end up in this career / role?
Last year I asked my company for three months off to complete the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile drive from London to Mongolia. I thought there was no chance they would actually let me take that much time off, but I asked anyway. Somehow they were more than cool with it. While preparing for my trip, a friend of mine told me his uncle was making a TV series about adventure travel, and would be interested in speaking with my travel friends and I. We met up with him and he decided to give us some camera gear to film our trip. We took the filming role very seriously, and when we returned he screened the footage and asked us if we'd like to go on a longer trip in order to make our own TV series. And so, I ended up quitting my job as a management consultant to be a full time traveler / videographer / producer.
What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
My favorite place I've ever traveled to is India. It's unlike anywhere else in the world, and there's everything in the world. Every type environment, person, smell, taste, adventure. It can be chaotic and calm, confusing and clarifying. One thing it is not is boring. It's constantly challenging and I love that. I went to India for the first time right after I graduated college, before I started my job, and spent a month backpacking there on my own. That trip solidified my identity as a traveler and I haven't looked back.
What's your worst travel experience?
One time I was on an overnight bus in India. The ticket checker took my ticket at the beginning of the ride and as we drove I dozed off to sleep. At about 3am, he went around to check tickets again and when he asked for mine, I reminded him that he had taken it earlier. Unfortunately he had no clue what I was saying because he could not speak any words in english besides "Ticket!" We argued with each other until the bus stopped, and then we kept arguing. He kept yelling "Ticket, ticket!" and I kept yelling "I DON"T HAVE IT." At this point most of the passengers had woken up and this guy was about to grab me and pull me off the bus in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Just as he was grabbing me I screamed to the bus "DOES ANYONE SPEAK ENGLISH." One man lazily stood up and walked towards the back where the man and I were arguing. With broken english he asked me to explain the situation. He then turned to the ticket man and explained what I had told him. Furious, but with some understanding, the ticket man spit some words back at the guy, and then at me, and walked back up to the front of the bus. The man who helped me was not happy to have helped and said some nasty words to me before he returned to his seat, along the lines of "You're in India. This is not America. Next time you will not be so lucky."
What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
Not dying in the above story was pretty fortuitous.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
You have to make it happen, and you have to understand what you're willing to sacrifice for the travel. The sacrifice could be time with friends and loved ones (e.g., traveling over thanksgiving when you don't have to take as many vacation days off from work), opportunities at work, or money. But if you understand what you're willing to sacrifice for travel, you will find yourself traveling much more and saying yes to travel much more (assuming you actually want to get out there and see the world).
Alex is a former management consultant turned filmmaker and explorer. He's currently filming a TV show of his 10,000+ mile drive from New York City through Central and South America to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Follow his conquests here: www.globalgoulets.com