Celebrity Travel Addicts: Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with the awesome Will Hatton, the founder and chief editor of The Broke Backpacker, who has been sharing invaluable travel knowledge with his readers since 2014. We chat with Will about the influence National Geographic had on him as a kid, the way travel can force you out of your comfort zone, the hostel he’s currently building in Bali, what he hopes people take away from his work, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations around the globe and his best advice for people who want to travel!

How did your passion for travel get started?

I think my first real love for travel began when I was a kid, my Dad bought me a stack of old National Geographics from a charity shop and I read them cover to cover dozens of times, inspired and bewitched by far off places, untouched landscapes, and exotic cultures. I first hit the road on my own when I was eighteen… I quickly fell in love with the freedom I could experience whilst traveling and had no problems being uncomfortable if it meant I got to explore and be outside. I hitchhiked, camped and couch-surfed my way around the world for years, learning a ton along the way.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?

To me, travel offers incredible opportunities for personal growth, especially if you are traveling without much money as it forces you to step out of your comfort zone, interact with people and problem solve.

You’ve been traveling the world for nine years. What is something you’ve learned during that time that you wish you had known when you started?

It’s actually thirteen years now, I turned 31 recently. I have finally settled down for 8 months a year though and now mostly live in Bali when I’m not in the Karakoram mountains. Something I learned on my travels was that everybody has a story, everybody has struggles, dreams, aspirations, and fears. The kindness and hospitality I’ve experienced on my travels have been truly staggering… I’ve been welcomed.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

You run a travel blog called The Broke Backpacker. Can you please tell us a bit about it? How did it come about? What makes it different from other travel content out there?

The Broke Backpacker started out as a bi-monthly email to about 30 people and grew into a site with more than 1.5 million visitors a month. It has been my passion for the last seven years and it has been a powerful tool for opening up less frequently visited countries like Pakistan and Iran and bringing in backpackers. TBB is different from other travel sites because, frankly, there’s less bullshit. We don’t really do social media, it’s just good old fashioned travel guides leading you to places nobody else goes and providing you with first-hand information on how to travel cheap, fun and safe. No butt shots or ‘I’ll teach you how to be a travel blogger for $500’ crap on my site – and there never will be. We focus on going to up and coming, off the beaten path destinations and putting together informative posts that help guide the next generation of broke backpackers on life-changing adventures.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

Opening a hostel in Bali has been a passion project of yours for several years now and was one of your goals for 2019. What made you want to pursue this? What’s the status of the hostel?

Our first Tribal Hostel continues to be built! I visited the site today and we are making good progress – we plan to be open in September 2020. I’m super excited about this and the hostel is incorporating as many recycled materials as possible. It’s aimed specifically at digital nomads and we will have one dorm that is free for visiting and contributing artists and musicians, we have planned several community and environmental projects we shall support from the hostel and the build itself is BIG – I’ve poured pretty much every penny I ever made into it and I am so excited to get it open and to welcome friends, new and old, from all over the world into the Tribal family.

How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?

I don’t really know. I was on the road almost non-stop for about ten years but recently have spent 4-8 months a year based in one place – usually Bali, sometimes Thailand. It will now be Bali until I move to New Zealand to build an earthship.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?

I hope to inspire people from less privileged backgrounds to take the plunge and to travel even if they don’t have any money – this is such a valuable experience and you will learn a ton of critical thinking skills whilst on the road as a broke backpacker. I also do my utmost to advocate responsible travel and this year we are launching our first product made out of recycled ocean plastic – I’m super stoked to be working on businesses that directly benefit the environment as this is what I am passionate about. If we don’t save the world in the next ten years, serious climate change will occur and it will be irreversible. I think it’s really important that travelers understand they have a responsibility to tread lightly, not use single-use plastics, eat responsibly, and to respect local customs and traditions. I’m also real keen on exposing less-visited countries to tourism as this can be a powerful catalyst for change and cultural exchanges. Some of the least visited countries are the most impressive, Pakistan for example.

What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?

Pakistan, Iran, Myanmar.

Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.

It’s gotta be Pakistan – you can check out my backpacking guide to it here.

Highlights – Hiking across Passu Glacier, crossing Husseini suspension bridge, trekking to the Fairy Meadows, camping in Deosai, exploring the incredible silk road by motorbike.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

How many countries have you visited so far?

 I’m not sure, I’m not a passport stamp collector and I’m not out to ‘bag every country in the world’ – I think I’ve been to around 100 countries.

What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?

Pad Thai, Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi, Pizza.

 What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?

Sensorium in Bali – the quesadillas are incredible.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

What is your favorite travel movie?

Does the Lord of the Rings count as a travel movie? Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade I have watched 20 plus times and as a kid it was a really inspiring movie for me – I simply had to vistt that incredible rock cut city…

What is your favorite international airport?

 Amsterdam – it’s really well set up and if you get stuck there it’s pretty chill.

Which city had the friendliest people?

 Shiraz in Iran

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

Who is your favorite travel companion?

I can get on with most folks and have had the pleasure of traveling with many.

What is the best way to kill time while traveling?

Reading a book, doing push-ups, smoking weed.

What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?

 Venezuela

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?

Don’t spend your trip hiding behind your phone – experience rather than document. Live your journey, talk to people, take a second to centre yourself, breathe in and truly be in the moment – this is what travel is about.

What are 4 things you could never travel without?

My multitool, my yoga mat, my headphones, and my kindle.

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

What is your ultimate dream destination?

Papua New Guinea.

What is your favorite travel quote?

I don’t know if I have a favourite travel quote, my favourite motivational mantra is ‘there are no limits to what I can achieve’.

Where are you headed next?

Right now – hell knows. I planned to head to Sri Lanka in May but given the current [coronavirus] situation, that seems unlikely. I will return to Pakistan in September to ride a motorbike around and climb more mountains – Pakistan is truly my happy place.

Bio

Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker

Writer and entrepreneur. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will has been on the road for thirteen years, travelling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs a number of online ventures, including The Broke Backpacker – the world’s largest budget travel blog. He is passionate about solving the plastic problem and cleaning up the oceans. Currently, Will is based in Bali where he plans to open his first Tribal Hostel in 2020. You can follow Will on Instagram here.

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