Whether you’re thinking of a year out, need a career break or just an adventurous holiday, find inspiration in the extraordinary story of Justin Grinstead.
He is the kind of man you might see sailing across the world in 80 days. Okay,maybe not 80, but Justin had a similar mind blowing idea back in 2013, when he was 24 and decided to travel and live in 24 different countries across the world in one year. He wasn’t rich, rather just a passionate being who found his way around the globe in the cheapest way possible. He grew up in a small town about 1,5 hours north of Toronto and spent most of his extra time indulging in every sport there is, from Ice Hockey to Track & Field.
He completed his degree in History and Government while continuing to represent Harvard on the track field for 400m hurdles not only nationally but internationally as well. This is around the time when he first travelled to Morocco representing Canada at the World Youth Championships. A step he took to feed his eager curiosity of the world.
His curiosity of the world only grew from here. ”After graduation I worked as a Researcher at the Harvard Business School, and then as a Business Development and Operations Manager with Adwene, a teaching institute in Ghana before coming up with my one year travel plan.”
”I recently moved to Nairobi to work with a start up in the financial/agricultural industry” he added.
Justin was 24, fresh graduated and broke when he decided to his big world tour. Let’s find out what was his inspiration and experiences, when he decided to go through with his insane plan.
1. How did the idea even came to be?
After leaving my position in Ghana, I read the autobiography of Sir Ranulph Fiennes. I was blown away by his life of adventure, and was inspired to have my own. I had none of his skills or experiences, but I knew from my previous travels that I was very good at living cheaply and handling personal discomfort well. So with that in mind, I somehow came up with the idea to go around the world, in a year, for very cheap, without flying.
2. What places did you decide on to visit?
I planned to go through Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan (I ended up going through Mongolia instead of the previous two, due to visa issues trying to go through western China), Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia (did Hungary instead), Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Morocco.
3. What was the reaction of your family when you told them about your plan?
‘I had been abroad quite a bit at this point already so it wasn’t a complete shock. My dad thought it was very cool. My mom was happy for me but a little sad she wouldn’t see me for so long.’
4. Were you ever skeptical about carrying this plan forward?
There were some parts of the trip I wasn’t completely sure how I would achieve, which I just planned on while I went. I got very lucky that for the most part, I was able to figure everything out.
The thing that kept me up the most by far was finances. I had very little when I left home, and probably should have had more. Every day was a struggle to pinch every possible penny I could. I was afraid I would go heavily in to debt but ended up only $60 in the hole when I got home.’
5. What is the difference between the Justin before travelling and the one after?
I’m not sure if there is a different Justin now then there was before. Any personal developments would have been gradual. Travelling is a constant learning experience, and is an amazing time well spent, much like university. If one were to ask “what’s the difference between who you are before and after university”, it would be difficult to adequately reflect on the experience by naming classes you took, friends you made, or different opinions you formed.”
6. Did you make close friends, enemies, lovers along the way? Will you be seeing them again?
I did meet some amazing people along the way, and many of them are forever locked into my memory for being integral parts of this trip. I keep in contact with some of them every now and then but I’m not sure if I’ll get to see them again. I think that depends on if the trajectory of our lives puts on paths close to each other.
I made far more friends than enemies, since the only enemy I made was the Mongolian gentleman with sheep’s blood on his hands who threatened to kill me on a bus in Ulaanbaatar.
7. What is your fondest memory of your one year journey?
I don’t know if I can lock down a single memory which is the best for me, there are too many. But one thing I did notice was that most of my greatest memories came when I was sharing the experience with someone. I had an incredible time driving across the Australian Outback with two travelers that became my friends. I had countless wonderful memories in China when I was touring around with my dad. And I had many happy moments when road-tripping through Italy with a best friend of mine who had a joined for that part of the journey.
Shared memories are the fondest.
8. What about the most horrific memory?
Taking a Ferry from Kupang to Bali in Indonesia. The boat was built for a capacity of 900 but had about 3000 on board. There was nowhere you could walk without having to tip toe around people. Children slept on piles of garbage. There were so many people on board that some took up residence in the lifeboats. They then used the lifeboat bathrooms which just emptied onto the deck below it. My sleeping quarters was the size of a volleyball court and about 100 people fit in here. When I woke up in the middle of the night I could stretch or roll over because of circle of other people around me. A mother and her son got seasick and were throwing up on the floor 2 meters away. The bathrooms had 4 inches of brown water continually sloshing back and forth, and the wall looked like the toilets emptied onto them. The trip took 3 days,
9. Do you plan to do something similar again? if yes, how would it be different from the first time?
The mind of the traveler is always teeming with possibilities for adventure, although I have nothing concrete planned. If I do some sort of major adventure again I will have more money beforehand, and I will focus more on exploring nature rather than urban centres.
10. If you had to settle in one of the places you visited, which one would you choose and why?
New Zealand is the first place that comes to mind. The country is just stunningly gorgeous and filled with the nicest people. There is so much countryside to explore and the nature is still so pure and untouched.
Justin Grinstead completed his entire trip in less than $5000. You can read more about Justin’s experiences on his blog here.
He was interviewed by Nidhi Choudhary, Content Writer Intern at Letsintern. Intern with us.
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