Here's How Mike Used Gap Years To Help Balance His Jobs While Also Traveling To Over 100 Countries In The Last 20 Years
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"Travel expands your mind, it shows you exactly who you are as a person and gives you the knowledge and ability to deal with anything life throws at you". 

Mike Huxley, has been travelling the world for over twenty years now and has visited over 100 countries. He is a qualified nurse by trade but is also a published author and founder of his own online travel business, Bemused Backpacker

Why I Travel


I was inspired to start travelling simply by the fact that I did not want my life to be limited or defined just by the immediate environment I had grown up in, and reading about great inspiring adventurers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes showed me there was a lot more of the world out there to see. Travel, and in particular independent gap year and solo travel, is important because without it you will never see the person you truly can be, you will never push your boundaries, step out of your comfort zone or see your own potential. Travel expands your mind, it shows you exactly who you are as a person and gives you the knowledge and ability to deal with anything life throws at you. In short, travel makes you the best version of yourself that you can be.

How I Incorporate Martial Arts With My Travels

I have been training in martial arts since childhood, ever since my dad took me to my first Goju Ryu Karate Dojo, but later on I also trained in Judo and Ju Jitsu as well. It hasn't influenced my travels much but it has always been a part of them and I have always tried to improve my physical body through training whilst travelling as much as expand my mind by my travels. The arts I primarily trained in were all Japanese, so Japanese culture and spirituality were always important to me and obviously this inspired numerous trips to Japan where I continued my training for a while. I have also tried to explore and train a little bit in different arts during my travels whenever I could as well, a little bit of Muay Thai in Thailand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Capoeira in Brazil, Tai Chi in China and many others.

How I Decide Where To Travel Next


I don't really have a specific process for picking my next destination. When it's for my personal travels I usually just ask where I have not been to yet and pick somewhere that sounds interesting. I tend to travel slowly and overland a lot, and a lot of the time I will choose to go somewhere on the spur of the moment whilst I am already travelling which is why I never have a very tight itinerary. So if I am in a hostel and hear of an awesome island I had never considered before I may change my plans and hop on a ferry, or I may decide to hop over the border to a completely different country if the mood takes me. Quite often though I travel a lot with work now, so if I am working with a specific DMO or tourism board that usually determines where I will travel.  

How Long Do I Stay In A Particular Place Before Moving On

If it is for work it is usually for as long as the campaign lasts, but on my own travels I tend to stay on average for about a month, sometimes longer, sometimes a little less, it all depends on the destination but I always recommend travelling as slowly as possible. When I first started travelling twenty years ago I tended to move a little quicker in an attempt to see as much as I could, but over the years that has eased up a lot. I remember arriving on Palau Tioman in Malaysia, one of my favourite countries in the world for the first time many years ago. I had originally only planned to spend a few days there, maybe a week at most, but ended up loving it so much I stayed for a whole month just on one beach! Waking up every morning to your own little slice of tropical paradise and swimming in the ocean before breakfast is hard to leave!

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How I Approach Sketchy Situations

I don't really get scared because I don't see the things that happen to me as things to be scared of, but obstacles to avoid or overcome. Fear if not controlled is not a useful emotion to have and you'll find that many travellers who are scared will usually say 'nothing bad has ever happened, but ...', so what is the point of that? Travel is not dangerous, for anyone, and outside of specific conflict zones or disaster areas there is no such thing as a dangerous country or destination. Bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime and for any reason and the key to dealing with that is not luck or staying at home, but taking reasonable sensible steps to reduce the risk as much as possible, have plans of action in place if things do go wrong and then giving yourself the skills and knowledge to keep yourself safe when and if you need it. I've been in dicey situations both at home and abroad and my training has given me the tools to avoid or deescalate the situation if I could, and keep myself safe on the rare occasion I couldn't. I've been sick when travelling, sometimes pretty badly, and have been able to diagnose and treat myself without too much concern because of my nursing background. 

My Favourite Travel Moments


I have so many amazing memories and stories it is hard to pick one. One of my best memories as a travel writer was being able to fulfil a childhood fantasy of going to Space Camp with the Huntsville Tourism Board and get to have a go at some of the Astronaut training they put the other campers through. As an adult I thought I'd never be able to do that!


  

But I think one of my favourite memories isn't about a single destination or event, but a lot of them put together over a long period of time. I've always been a huge history geek, especially ancient history, hence my many trips to Egypt amongst other places. I have always had a fascination with biblical archaeology as well, and on my first trip to Mount Sinai well over a decade ago I spent time reading about the Ark of the Covenant. Over the next ten years I followed the trail of the Ark through Israel and the Temple Mount, where I also got to study the Dead Sea Scrolls up close, down through Sudan and into Ethiopia where it is said the Ark now rests in Axum. The memory I have of that isn't finally getting to see the resting place of the Ark, but the journey I took and the knowledge I gained from each place to get there.   

How I Overcome Obstacles That May Prevent Me From Travelling More

In general nothing stops me from travelling because I make travel a priority in my life and always have. All those excuses people use don't really matter. When I first started travelling I simply worked and saved money to travel. I sacrificed those things that all my peers wasted money on and travelled as cheaply as possible in order to do it. The jobs that didn't matter in the long run I quit and simply got a new one when I returned. I made work life balance a priority too, so I travelled around study when gaining my degrees, when I started my career in nursing I worked for a while and then took a mixture of annual leave, unpaid leave, sabbaticals and even quitting entirely in order to travel. It's all about how you prioritise your life. 

My Advice To New Travelers Who Want To Travel more


The best advice I can give is just go. All those fears you have will disappear once you are out there travelling, you will see the concerns you had were largely unfounded, all the practicalities of money and risk and everything else can be dealt with, as long as you take that decision to follow your dreams fearlessly and without hesitation there is nothing you can't do. You are the only one in charge of the path your life takes, so you can choose the normal rut everyone else does, or you can choose a life of travel and adventure. It's up to you. 

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