Solo Traveling Since The 80s: Shane Shows You How You Can Leave Your Traditional Life For One As A Nomad
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GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

14th Jun | 7 min read

Shane's first solo trip was in the 1980s and he has undertaken solo trips regularly since that time. He's visited more than 100 countries, including more than 90 countries solo. He loves to inspire people to explore the road less travelled, and he seeks to do this through keynote speeches, photography, social media, and radio. You can find Shane at and you can also connect with him on GAFFL.

Why I Travel

My first overseas trip was in 1986, and just like now, I wanted to travel to experience the world. My main reason to travel to learn more about the world and its people. I love visiting places on the road less travelled, and this has included solo trips to places such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Somaliland, Syria, Tajikistan, and Yemen.

I've Met Special People While Traveling

If it wasn’t for my travels, I wouldn’t be a father, and wouldn’t have the wonderful family I have now. It is much easier to create long-lasting friendships in the Internet and Social Media era. When I was travelling in the 1980s and 1990s the only way to stay connected with people you met were either phone calls or letters. This was difficult. 

    How I Choose Where To Travel Next

    I have three types of travel. The first type of travel is related to my work with speaking or being part of the organising team at conferences and trade shows. These are usually short trips of not more than a week, but I usually stay a few days longer to explore the area. I don’t choose these travel destinations, the choice is made for me. Most of my current travel fits into this category. 

    For the next two types of travel, the choice is influenced by the culture, hospitality, and attractions of a destination. The more different a culture is to my own, the more interesting I find the destination. The second type of travel are those trips that involve photography. I’ve been photographing my travels since the 1980s. I tend to visit places on my own that are rough and/or remote and not suited to bringing a young family with me.

    The third type of travel are those trips with my family. The level of comfort is higher than my solo photography journeys, but the style of travel is not much different from the second type. I am a strong advocate for slow travel, and when you travel with a young family, you naturally will travel slowly.  

    Usual Length Of My Trips

    The shortest solo trip was a few days, but the longest solo trip is my current one. It started as a solo trip but now is not. I have not returned to Australia since I left in December 2012, and for the first two and a half years of that time I continuously travelled and mostly travelled solo. Since August 2015 I’ve been based in Kenya with my family. I still travel solo - especially for business trips - but these are much shorter in length now - no longer than two weeks.

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    One Of My Best Travel Memories

    One of my most memorable destinations is Afghanistan. I visited the Wakhan Valley and Corridor area in 2013. Though it was the last week of May, I was the first tourist of the year that many people had seen. Afghanistan is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen, with its towering mountains that command your attention.

    The hospitality of the people was incredible - milky tea and flat bread was always offered to a visitor, and I was given invites to meet people in their homes. A challenging place to visit due to the lack of infrastructure, but my week in Afghanistan changed the way I approached life and it strongly steered me on the path of making a career of working using my laptop. Afghanistan ensured that the chance of having another office based job is very low.

    Why It Is Hard For People To Leave Their Lives To Travel

    There are two reasons why people don’t travel. The first is lack of money. Travelling is an expensive pursuit - flights, accommodation, visas, meals, local transport - it all costs money. There are ways to reduce expenses and to save more money - but that takes dedication. The second is fear. Many people are fearful of heading to the unknown - I’ve been fearful prior to a few of my trips. Fear is normal when you head somewhere entirely different from your culture and far away from home. The people who overcome this fear more, travel more.  

    The biggest challenge to solo travel is the misconception that being alone on the road means that you are lonely. When I spent almost all of 1992 overseas, it was far easier to feel alone - no Social Media, no video calls - I felt truly isolated. Despite this, it was unusual for me to feel lonely - every day was an adventure and there was so much to explore - I didn’t have time to feel lonely. Now, technology allows us to connect with our family and friends back home. Feeling lonely now is harder than it used to be. Another supposed challenge is that solo travel is dangerous. If you trust your instincts and use common sense, travel is no more dangerous than going about your daily routine at home. Remember, just because you go away on a holiday, it doesn’t mean your common sense should be left at home. 

    The biggest challenge for me travelling more is money. Travelling is not a cheap pursuit, especially since I want to take more trips with my family and this costs more. I can work from my laptop, so getting time to travel is no problem - I can take extended time away and still work if it is required. I pay for almost all of my travel. The main exception is if I’m invited to speak at a conference or a trade show where my flights and accommodation are covered.

    My Advice To Newbie Nomads

    If you want to live as a nomad it is essential that you have established work, usually in the form of remote or online work. This provides you with an income on the road, and you need to have this work and income established before you start your journey. You can rely on finding usual jobs away from the online environment on the road, but there are no guarantees this will happen. Your online or remote work is your backup if no other paid opportunities come your way.

    Remember that being a nomad is a different travel experience to being on holidays. If your travel on your nomadic journey is at the same pace as a tourist on holidays, you will burn out. Nomadic travel is most sustainable when you stay in one place for longer (at least a month) before heading onto the next destination. If you work remotely with your computer, you should establish a routine in your destination to continue building your business and providing an income. Every time you head to a new destination - you need to research the best price for both your accommodation and your travel to get there. This can be very time consuming and will take away from your ability to build your business and to keep receiving your income. Look at the people who are financially successful at being nomads, and they almost always have a base where they spend a lot of time.

    Finally, for the past few years, I almost always avoid the offer to stay at a hotel in exchange for publicity through my media channels. The reason for this is that my hotel room is my sanctuary and it is a time to unwind - especially important after a long day of photography. I find travel much more enjoyable if I pay for my own accommodation, and travel is even more enjoyable if I am welcomed as a tier member of a hotel’s loyalty program, which is why I tend to stay at my preferred hotel group. Travel for me is far less enjoyable if I don’t pay for my room and I am expected to produce a certain amount of content to promote the hotel I’m staying in. This approach in paying for my own accommodation has greatly assisted in reducing the chance of running myself down or burning out during my travel.

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