Rather Than Choosing A Destination, Stanway Lets The Destination Choose Him Using A Method He Calls The "Four Pillars"
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John-Paul Stanway is a backpacker from the Northwest of the UK
20th Jun | 8 min read

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    John-Paul Stanway is a backpacker from the Northwest of the UK. He quit his job, sold everything, and bought a one-way ticket to travel the world in September 2019. He now wants to help others in doing the same! 

    Stanway does not choose his destinations, but a method he calls "Four Pillars" leads him to the perfect destination. 

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    Inspiration To Start Long-Term Traveling

    Honestly, it was just something I always wanted to do. I lived in a small town buried away in the corner of Cumbria and after going to the usual Magaluf, Benidorm, and Ibiza, I just knew there was more to life.

    In 2017, I went interrailing around Europe with two of my friends and it opened up a whole new world. I knew my next adventure had to be bigger and better, which no denying it has been!

    First Solo Trip To Australia

    It was actually only by accident that I ended up there. I was on a trip across the globe before the dreaded “virus that cannot be named” began to bring the world to a halt.

    I had spent 5 months around Southeast Asia solo beforehand which was the best thing ever. I eased myself in by meeting a friend for my first stop in Qatar, and having a private driver for my second stop in India; so by the time I landed in destination three, Bangkok, I was in full backpacker mode ready to get stuck in! 

    The experience shapes you like no other. Solo travel these days is getting very common, but there are also a scary amount of people who don’t have the confidence to do it, which saddens me. You will never forget your first time nor will you ever get that feeling again.

    Read more: The Best Budget Travel Tips For Backpacking Australia

    What Are The Four Pillars Of Planning

    One of the methods I use for trips is something I call “The Four Pillars of Travel Planning” and I swear by this method. Rather than choosing a destination, I let the destination choose me.

    The Four Pillars include “Destination, Budget, Time, and Confidence” which are the four biggest aspects of any trip. Each pillar asks a specific question, I take a look at my capabilities at a certain point in my life and choose a location based on those factors! You should try it!

    The concept allows you to be honest with yourself and helps to keep you safe when planning for the future.

    My Working Holiday Visa Job Experience

    Oh, many many ups and downs! The experience was the worst thing but also the best thing at the same time. I found jobs mainly through word of mouth, then a couple in Facebook groups and on Gumtree! Many were through working hostels which I also have mixed views on! 

    Through Covid 60-70% of the backpacker population left Australia, meaning (for probably the first time ever) the power had been shifted to the workforce instead of the employers. There were not enough backpackers for the amount of work meaning we had the pick of the bunch! Hopefully, Australians now understand what a positive impact we make on their society.

    My best memories were made during the first global lockdown in March 2020.

    I was lucky enough to spend it in a working hostel with 40-50 other backpackers who became my Australian family, we helped each other through tough and uncertain times and I don’t think I could have gone through it without them.

    Read more: How To Travel Around Australia On A Tight Budget

    Favorite Memories Of Meeting New People & Exploring With Locals

    Meeting people can be so easy, even for an introvert. Now, not saying that I am but as a backpacker, you’re often trying to pinch a penny or two and that can lead to staying in hostels, taking public transport, and eating local street food. These are also the places where the magic of ‘meeting people’ occurs the most.

    Chatting to like-minded people in hostels and speaking to the locals you interact with on transport are the small things that make travel so special.

    I have no particular favorite memory, but I would like to say that the people of The Philippines are the most generous and kind I met along the way. To help you while expecting Nothing in return makes it so refreshing when needed advice.

    The Countries I Have Traveled To

    I’m not a big country counter! I don’t think travel should be seen as a tick-box exercise, but maybe that's a story for another day... I haven’t seen much of the world, I like to aim for longevity and experiences, there is so much I’d still love to see.

    Worth reading: This Fun Couple Met On A Boat Over A Decade Ago And Have Been Living & Traveling Around The World Ever Since

    JP from Escape The Stanway

    My Motivation Behind Starting My Blog

    I was inspired to start my blog to learn about the online world.

    I spent 7 years as a project manager working in the nuclear power industry, so my knowledge of the online world was(still relatively is!) non-existent. I never understood the power it had. I want to be able to travel and work from anywhere in the world and that is something I am working towards each and every day as a complete beginner.

    The mission of my blog is to help people make that big first step into the world, simplify things, and guide them from a travel dream to travel a reality.

    How I Keep My Expenses In Check

    I think it is very hard, but a lot of it comes down to discipline. Cutting out some comfort and taking that extra mile, but then doing it day after day.

    Sometimes I stick to it, sometimes I don’t! Being too strict with yourself will also ruin your journey, you didn’t travel to the other side of the world to say no to everything, did you?

    However, on the flip side, you have to be happy in whatever decision you make, travel with like-minded people, and don’t be scared to break away from the pack. Not everyone you meet will be on a long-term travel trip and have to look after their money as much as you.

    Read More: After Working A Corporate Job For 10 Years Lisa Moved To Australia Permanently To Enjoy The Sunny Weather & Outdoor Lifestyle

    Inspiring Moments From My Travels

    Some of my coolest experiences include the Hi Giang Loop in Vietnam, Skydiving and swimming with Whale Sharks in Australia, spending the night on a Gili Kedis, an island no bigger than a cricket pitch, and getting my Scuba License in Koh Tao.

    But, to be truly honest, my biggest memory is generally just living every day in the present moment which is a very cringy answer! But it is very rare you get the chance to do that.

    How I Manage My Work & Travel

    I don’t! Time management? What's that? That is one thing I am still trying to figure out haha! I recently returned home for Christmas, and currently, my income from the blog and Instagram page is nowhere near enough to be able to live full-time. So maybe over the next few months, I can start to figure that one out!

    Worth reading: Katie Is A Weekend Warrior Who Loves Exploring The Outdoors While Also Managing Her Career & Family Responsibilities

    JP from Escape The Stanway

    What Holds Me Back From Full-time Traveling

    Generating a steady income. I currently sit at a crossroads (or some call it a quarter-life crisis!) the aim is to travel full-time but I still have so much to learn, grow and implement before that can truly happen. What I am building online only began in March 2022, and it will take years of hard work to fulfill the dream after starting completely from scratch.

    Savings can only get you so far!

    Maybe in 2023, I will look into some more Working Holiday Visas, got to get them used before I’m 30!

    Worth reading: After Dreaming About Traveling For Years Martina Finally Took The Plunge, Quit Her Job, And Became A Full Time Travel Blogger

    Reason Why GAFFL Is Valuable To Solo Travelers

    As I mentioned earlier not everyone has the confidence to travel solo, so GAFFL is a fantastic platform to help people make that first big decision. The first step is always the hardest but to know sites like GAFFL are there to help the steps moving forward brings a lot of comfort to people.

    When it comes to using apps I must admit I'm a little rouge, I usually just “find out when I'm there”! For my recent trip to Copenhagen, I had done no planning until I arrived at the airport before my flight!

    Things I Wish I’d Known When I First Started Traveling

    I wish I knew there was going to be a coronavirus pandemic! All jokes aside there actually isn’t anything I wish I knew, the challenge and the uncertainty are what give you the biggest thrill. As cliché as it sounds, it is how you overcome the obstacles that help you grow as a person, if I already knew those challenges I’d be the same fool I was three years ago!

    In terms of lessons, I think one of the biggest I took is that your problems are minuscule in comparison to the things are see. You do not know how lucky you are to be out there traveling in the first place. Do not take life too seriously!

    Other exciting stories you might enjoy!

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