Shane Dallas and I met through Savannah Grace, thanks to The Road Less Travelled (#TRLT) Twitter chat. #TRLT, founded by Savannah of Sihpromatum, Shane of The Travel Camel and Ariana Arghandewal of Point Chaser, commenced in November 2013. #TRLT discusses destinations often overlooked on other Twitter travel chats, such as Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Central America, hoping to generate more interest in these areas. Anton Magnin of TazzDiscovers and I joined as permanent hosts in January 2015.
Over the past year or so, I’ve had the great privilege of getting to know Shane. The Australian has been travelling for almost three years straight, but set out to see and explore the world long before that. Through his profound writing, inspiring photography and moving speeches he is able to share all that he encounters along the way, from observations and reflections to travel tips and lessons. His unique perspective resonates with others around the globe.
While many of you may know him already as the co-founder of #TRLT or a captivating public speaker, world traveler or photographer, I wanted to take the time to share a bit more of Shane’s story. Who exactly is The Travel Camel? Without further ado, please read more about him below:
Who or what first inspired you to travel? How has that wanderlust lead you to where you are today?
Shane: Nobody inspired me to travel, it was my desire to experience the world that was the prime motivator. I travelled a lot as a boy in Australia as my mother’s side of the family lived in Adelaide, and my father’s side of the family lived in Melbourne – a distance of about 700 kilometres. That acquainted me with moving around, which was helpful in later life. I never travelled overseas until I was 22 (New Zealand for 2 weeks) but my first major overseas journey (to Europe) didn’t occur until I was 27.
I have now travelled to more than 90 countries, with the vast majority of these being on my own. My passion for travel has now lead to a full-time career in the industry via my influence on Social Media and my skills in public speaking. I never intended to work in the travel or Social Media industry – that arose from pursuing my passion for travel so heavily that it lead to paid and unpaid opportunities and proposals from others. This has turned my passion into my profession.
Why do you feel someone should take The Road Less Travelled? What advice do you have for those interested travellers?
Shane: Overwhelmingly, places on The Road Less Travelled are safer, friendlier and more immersive. Because they are not exposed to mass tourism, it is easier to experience the local culture. Destinations that receive a lot of tourists tend to be gentrified, or worse, they create an environment to replicate what these tourists do back home – so you find food and music that cater to a foreign palate and ears. When I travel I want to experience a different culture; for example when in Asia, I want to eat rice and noodle based meals, I can eat those hamburgers and French fries back home! This becomes increasingly difficult if tourism plays a major part of an economy. Furthermore, places that are filled with tourists also tend to attract petty crime – which is why places on The Road Less Travelled are generally safer.
My advice for someone taking The Road Less Travelled – embrace the differences. Just because something is different doesn’t make it better or worse than your own culture, it just makes it different. Remember that life travels at a difference pace in some destinations, so the speed of service or anything else may be at a more relaxed pace. That is okay, just accept it. One final piece of advice, even if you don’t agree with the practices or beliefs of the culture you are in, at least you should respect them.
Of the destinations you’ve visited, which one has surprised you the most and why?
Shane: Ethiopia is still the culture that fascinates me the most, and that is after six visits! There is something quite magical about the country, the culture is so very, very different – there is nowhere else that compares. Ethiopia is known as the cradle of civilisation and it feels that way. Everything from the calender, the times of the day (their 12 o’clock is our 6 o’clock), the religion,and the food is entirely different from what you have experienced previously.
What lessons have you learned through solo travel? How do you continue to apply those lessons in your travels and life today?
Shane: If you are comfortable with your own company, you will find solo travel easy. It really doesn’t matter if you are shy, most important is to enjoy your own company. If you do not, you will get bored and/or lonely in a short amount of time. Being able to enjoy my own company means that I am never ever bored for there is always something to keep my attention occupied even when alone. Solo travel encourages you to think deeply, which is an important facet in every aspect of your life. Think deeply, analyse what you see, what you did, and analyse yourself as a person. How did you react to the environment? What did you learn about the place where you are travelling? What did you learn about yourself? One of the best paths to contentment and happiness is self-analysis.
Please share one of your photos that really resonates with you and the story behind it.
Shane: After a tiring half day riding atop and walking beside a camel, I arrived at a home stay high in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. Nobody in the house spoke a word of English, so communication was by gestures and facial expressions. I sat there alone and observed their world – and their life living at 4,000 metres above sea level was a harsh one. There was no humour, just a continuous cycle of work to survive. The family lived in a one room house where they ate, lived and slept. There wasn’t even a toilet – either inside or outside. Spend some time in a place like this and you wont be complaining that your sporting team has lost or that a restaurant doesn’t serve your favourite meal or favourite type of coffee. We should be thankful for everything we have, even as simple as electricity, running water, a roof over our heads and a meal on the table.