Travel Bloggers that Rock! Interview with Leif from The Runaway Guide
Leif, you ran away from home at 16 to Europe and the Middle East…why?
Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to travel and explore. I idolized Leif Erikson and Indiana Jones and truly believed that these were potential life paths. While maturity somewhat dampened my romanticized childhood dreams, my desire to travel remained.
However, this strong desire to explore was not the only reason why I left at 16. To be honest, it was a combination of experiences and feelings not unfamiliar to most adolescents. At 16 I was struggling to fit in. Then, I started experimenting with drugs. That’s when everything began to fall apart. My grades began to plummet and so did my confidence, and aspirations for life and the future. Despair and solitude followed. I needed the freedom, chance to change, and adventure, that I believed only travel could offer. And so I left, with nothing but a rucksack, for the streets of Europe.
Can you briefly tell me the story of how on earth you did that? Did you just leave a note and go?
I am working on a book about my adventure entitled, “The Runaway: An Untraditional Guide To Travel,” so I don’t want to give away too much. But I will say that making the final decision and actually leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done. And that I left without a word to anyone.
So many backpackers are nervous about embarking on a trip alone in their 20’s, yet alone at 16! Was it scary or just plain exciting?
I’m not going to lie, there were many times that were very scary. Sleeping on the street for the first time was scary. Living with schizophrenic homeless people was anxiety filled. And prison in Bulgaria was heart pounding. However, there were loads of fun and exciting experiences as well. Seeing the sights of Europe was wonderful. Listening to the call to prayer in Istanbul for the first time was awe-inspiring. And sneaking into the Pyramids to open the secret chamber under the Sphinx never made me feel more like my idol, Indiana Jones.
You must have learned some great tips for getting by on very little money…What’s your top bit of advice?
Most of my travels were done with no money at all. So, my top advice for anyone hoping to travel without money, is to only do so if you’re willing to go a few days without food. While you will inevitably go hungry, you will not starve to death. Though it’s often molding or soggy, there is always something to eat. More, things always seem to work out. Whether it be a new friend who puts you up for the night, or a kind restaurant owner who offers you leftovers, you can always get by. So, I guess my top bit of advice is, you just got to have faith.
You’ve traveled to over 40+ countries, how have you funded your travels? Have you had jobs abroad?
Like I said before, most of the time I had nothing, but on a few occasions I did manage to get some work. I worked for a carpenter on house in Southern France. I also did day work on a few of the mega yachts in Antibes, France. I worked in Israel on the Red Sea on a charter boat and then a bit later on a sailing Felucca on the Nile in Aswan, Egypt. Then I worked in a hotel, though it was more of an indentured servant kind of deal, in Amman Jordan. I worked for a bit on a farm in Norway and then headed over to Hawaii where I got a job as a deckhand on a catamaran.
What made you decide to set up The Runaway Guide?
I believe travel is one of the most enlightening things anyone can undertake. And so I hope that through my blog, others will be inspired by my stories and empowered by my guides. And that they too will embark on their own adventures, no matter what the budget, to learn, grow and experience as I did.
Another reason I started this blog is so I could stop traveling like such a hobo. Although I think I probably learned a lot more by traveling broke than with money, from now on I want to experience what travel is like as a proper budget backpacker. I want to do the things I always missed out on because I couldn’t afford it. However, that doesn’t mean I still won’t revert back to some of my old techniques to save some money.
You certainly have some fascinating guides, like “How To Become A Pirate”, and “How To Jump A Border”. How would you describe your blogging style?
In short, I would describe it as edgy and hopefully informative. I always try and write about things that no one has written about yet.
Where in the world are you and do you have any travel plans for the upcoming year?
I’m currently writing to you from a roof top in Cairo not far from Tahrir square. I have been here a month so far and am really enjoying it, especially the Egyptian food and sugar can juice. I hope to go to Sudan but at the moment I am not really sure where I will go next. I prefer not knowing, it gives me a greater sense of freedom, and is more exciting this way.
What are your hopes for your travel blog?
While it would be nice if I gained a large readership and starting making loads of money, If I manage to inspire just a few people, that would be fine by me.
If you would like to be interviewed for this series, please visit my Contact Page and tell me about your blog.