In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Brock, the world traveler behind the Edges of Earth YouTube channel and the SoloTravel365 travel blog. We chat with this modern-day explorer about the quotes he came across that made him want to follow his passion of traveling the world, traveling around different countries with locals, being under COVID-19 lockdown in India, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations around the globe and find out where he’s off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
The first time I traveled out of the country, I was 14 years old. My parents took me to South Africa for a couple of weeks to go on a Safari.
The following summer, the same South African couple that we previously met, invited me to hang out on their Ranch for the summer. I visited South Africa again, alone, at age 15 for about 30 days.
2 years later, I traveled back to Africa, this time Zimbabwe, with my parents.
Needless to say, I was bitten by the travel bug – and bitten hard! In fact, I think it must have burrowed its way down to the bone and never came out!
Traveling to Africa only left me with more questions than answers. I was so intrigued about how and why things were so different than that of the USA, my native country.
When I think back, this must have been the origin of my travel addiction.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 overlooking a lake in Udaipur, India
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
To be honest – it is not so much that traveling, specifically, is important (for everyone). I believe that it is important for everybody to follow their own passion in life. If your passion is to skateboard, awesome, make more time for it. If your passion is aeronautics, awesome, get your pilot’s license and try to fly as much as possible. If your passion is cooking, awesome, try to design your life around cooking more often.
In my mind, the key is not simply traveling. The key is determining your passion, and including more of it in your life. The only outcome from doing this, is positivity and happiness. Imagine waking up every morning and doing the one thing that makes you smile. How awesome would that be? I think we can all agree that it would be pretty awesome.
I challenge everyone to look deep within themselves to determine their passion, and in addition, create a blueprint that will help you include more of it in your life.
For me, Travel is my passion. It is my everything. I wake up every day and go on another adventure which leads me to meet more local people and experience more of the local culture. I am on Cloud Nine. Absolute bliss. To me, travel is everything that I had hoped for only a few years ago. So for me, personally – yes, travel is definitely important.
You have a very inspiring story when it comes to how you made the decision to start traveling the world solo. Can you please share it with us?
In short, following my 26th birthday, I stumbled across these 3 quotes while browsing Facebook, several months apart.
- “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon
- “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” – W. L. Bateman
- “Fear is temporary, regret is forever..” – Anonymous
Now as strange as this sounds, these quotes shook my mindset to its core. I made it a mission to determine what would make me happy, even if I did it for the rest of my life (rich or poor). After intense thought for about 2 weeks, I determined that traveling the world and experiencing culture would be the ultimate bliss. Just a few months later I donated everything to Goodwill and started my never-ending adventure.
The full story can be found here.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 taking a selfie with villagers along the coast of Gujarat, India (one man invited him to his home for tea afterward)!
On your YouTube channel, Edges of Earth, something you try to do is travel around the country you’re visiting with a local. How did that idea come about?
Good question. I’m not sure really. I guess I just fell in love with the idea of traveling deeper within a culture and throwing myself into the unknown. I guess I feel that the best way to do that is by meeting local people, making friends with them, and sometimes traveling together. The amount of information that I have learned by simply being around local people, has been unprecedented.
In addition to learning more about the culture, I try my best to film the interaction between me and the local person. I believe this gives the viewers an idea about the local people.
Things like: What the local people sound like when they speak English, what the local people dress like, what type of body language they have, what their habits are, how they make decisions, the list goes on. I think it helps to give the viewer a first-hand experience of what it’s like to be in a particular country – which only helps to build their personal confidence about traveling there.
What is something you’ve learned or experienced through traveling with locals that you feel you couldn’t have learned or experienced otherwise?
It’s hard to simply identify only one. Traveling with locals helps in so many different ways. I have been able to go to locations that I would have never thought possible if I was traveling alone.
In the United States, trespassing is a large issue. In some other countries that I have visited, trespassing doesn’t exist. The property is owned by the government and therefore you can travel anywhere. If I was traveling alone, I would have never known this. Even if I did know this, I would have never been able to build enough courage to walk in certain areas – simply because the fear of trespassing, entering someone’s personal space, or walking in the wrong area is etched deep in my mind.
It doesn’t matter which country I visit, locals are always more fun to be around and they have always been so helpful!
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 walking through a giant lotus field with locals
You were traveling through the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India when the coronavirus pandemic hit. What was your experience there like?
The lockdown situation in Tamil Nadu was definitely an interesting ordeal. Being that I don’t pay attention to the news, the lockdown happened without me knowing it. The very first day of lockdown, all of the businesses were closed which left me with an extremely limited supply of food. I started rationing my food for the first week. I ate oats and water for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Crazy.
Soon, small food stalls opened up at certain times of the day, which gave me access to a slightly larger variety of food.
In addition to the food, the Indian Immigration Office is/was rather broken. Apparently, foreigners were required to submit a large amount of documents to them for visa extension. It took about seven hours to complete. After submitting these documents seven different times (over the course of 2 months), they always rejected my application every single time. The email department said to talk to the phone department, and the phone department said that I needed to listen to the email department. Nobody would tell me why my paperwork was rejected. Finally, I simply stopped trying.
The positive side of this lockdown was the amount of time that it has given me. I have been able to get caught up on so much editing and so many other large tasks. If the lockdown never happened, I would still be so far behind schedule.
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
Since December of 2016, I have traveled 365 days per year (hence the name of my website). I took a small break to make an appearance at a wedding in the United States only once – but I still did lots of traveling while there.
Call me strange, but I enjoy visiting areas that are slightly underdeveloped. I have found that these areas have had very little impact from Western culture – mainly because they are not tourist areas. Because of this, their culture is extremely rich and diverse. Rich culture is what I love!
I think I travel quite a bit slower than most other travelers. I prefer staying in a country for several months at a time and even up to a year at a time, when possible. This allows me to familiarize myself with the culture at its deepest level. I enjoy this method more than bouncing from country to country for only a few weeks at a time. That would barely give me enough time to experience the culture. When I can start to predict the actions/reactions of the local people (within multiple different types of scenarios), then I feel culturally accomplished. It usually takes quite a while to get to that point. Yes, I am a geek.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 exploring the ancient structures of Jodhpur, India
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I generally don’t focus a lot of my YouTube efforts towards teaching people about the local culture. It’s a little bit strange because that is generally my primary focus while I am there.
The majority of what people will find on my channel is simply me interacting with local people of all types. Sometimes the locals try to teach me their local language, sometimes they introduce me to different foods, sometimes they bring me to an interesting location, or many other things. If people browse my YouTube channel, they will simply see the interaction between me and locals in various forms.
I guess I hope that by watching enough videos, the viewers will start to realize that the world isn’t as dangerous as the media portrays. The majority of people in this world are kind, friendly, welcoming, and caring; even though everyone has different cultures, customs, religions, and languages. We are all, at the basic core, human.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
This is probably the most requested question I’ve ever been asked. Usually, people want to know the ‘number one’. I always tell them that it is impossible to choose simply one. I usually give them the top three. Your question is perfect.
1st Place – Philippines
1st Place – India / Bangladesh (these felt basically the same to me)
3rd Place – Vietnam
I know, I know, there are 2 countries with 1st Place. That’s because both countries are absolutely amazing. They have different cultures and they are amazing in different ways. I do not know how to weigh the differences.
It is important to note that when I rank a country, it is based on the people, specifically. If the people are kind, caring, friendly, welcoming, and hospitable, then I will fall In love with everything about their country. Architectural beauty and the beauty of the landscape is barely part of my equation.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 holding on for dear life on the back of a motorbike in HCMC, Vietnam
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.
OMG, this question is like asking a kid in a candy store about his top five favorite pieces of candy – even though he has tried 1,000 different kinds and he has loved them all. Yikes.
My ‘top places’ are chosen by how many people showed an interest in me and wanted to speak. Here we go:
- Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Ahmedabad, Rajasthan
- Mount Abu, Rajasthan
- Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
- Tirur, Kerala
It was really tough to make that list. It is in order, by the way. This short video gives you a feel for what it’s like to walk around in India.
How many countries have you visited so far?
I think I am on country number 23 or 24, depending on your definition of a ‘country’.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Wow, another tough question. I’m not much of a foodie, but here we go:
3) Malai Kofta – India
2) Beef Lok Lak – Cambodia
1) Bánh ít Dẻo – Vietnam (This is only a dessert. I ate them for breakfast every day) This has been my favorite food that I have ever tried while traveling the world. I want to fly back to Vietnam just to eat one!
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 joining some local men in a Vietnamese village for rice wine and chicken parts
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Again, I’m not much of a foodie. So this question is difficult. I usually just eat something relatively healthy for 10 minutes and then keep going. It’s quite rare that I go to a restaurant to ‘enjoy’ a meal. Food simply keeps me alive. That’s how I view it haha.
I do, however, recommend that people try a few famous meals within each country that they visit.
What is your favorite travel movie?
You know what’s crazy? I started watching a movie that I have never heard of before, and thought it was going to be just another B rated film. Every minute that passed, I literally couldn’t believe how similar I was to the main character. The way he spoke, the decisions that he was making, the ideas that he had, his personality…our similarities were unbelievable! I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie. I had the most eerie feeling of deja vu throughout the entire movie. That movie was called Into The Wild.
What is your favorite international airport?
Yuck. I hate traveling through airports. People, crowds, waiting, delays, overpriced food, excessive use of A/C…this list goes on.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 at the top of MS University in Baroda, India
Which city had the friendliest people?
Another tough question. I spent a total of two months volunteering at an underprivileged school, a tiny village, in the middle of nowhere, in Bihar, India. I won’t reveal the name. But if you watch my video series, I’m sure someone could figure it out if they really wanted to know.
Despite most of the students being born into poverty, they all were quite kind, friendly, full of smiles, and high-fives. Definitely a place I will never forget.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
Local people, only. I am quite strictly a solo traveler. I have been invited to travel with other foreigners as well as having foreigners who invited themselves to travel with me. I have declined all of them.
My definition of solo traveling is slightly different, and deeper, than that of other travelers who have talked about the topic. I feel that if you are traveling with another foreigner, then you are not solo traveling. But if you are traveling with a local person, then you are still considered a Solo Traveler.
I will break this ‘only travel with locals rule’, if another YouTuber reaches out to me and wants to collaborate for two or three days. Anything beyond that, will most likely be declined. Definitely contact me if we are in the same location at the same time!
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
I have heard that some travelers bring gaming systems along with them (Xbox/PlayStation), play games on their phone, or watch Netflix. To each their own, I suppose.
For me, the best way to kill time is to simply go outside and travel more haha! Seriously. It is, however, very rare that I have free time. The majority of the time is spent editing videos. This takes a ridiculously large amount of time. But if for some reason I am all caught up (which has only happened once in four years [2020 lockdown]), I would simply go out for a walk in the local neighborhood to meet some local people. I would probably be invited to play a game [in real life] with the local people. To me, this is so much fun!
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 soaking in the beauty of Hong Kong
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Hmm, exotic? Not sure. Basically any place as far away from the tourist area as possible. Maybe traveling outside of the tourist area is exotic to some people, but to me, this is completely normal. I feel awkward and out-of-place when I travel to a tourist area. I guess I’m a bit weird.
The word ‘exotic’ does remind me of a unique story. I was in Vietnam traveling with a local man on his motorbike when it suddenly started to rain. We stopped at the nearest coffee shop to stay dry.
As we entered, we were wondering why the coffee price was significantly higher than the normal local price. It turned out that it was a ‘special’ coffee shop. You pay a high price for coffee and they will give you and your friend a room with a bed. They will also give you as much time as you want to ‘drink the coffee’.
The local man and I both felt awkward, but we also thought it was hilarious at the same time! We actually bought coffee and went inside the room. A couple of days later we went back and filmed a street food video inside that same room (that video turned out to be hilarious).
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
If you are only thinking about it, keep in mind that: There will never be a ‘perfect’ time to start traveling. Never. We all have stress in our lives, commitments, expectations, social pressure, etc. You just have to take a leap of faith (a rather big leap, if I may add). If not now, when? The best time to start is, and will always be, now.
My best travel advice is to simply be prepared. There are so many amazing things that you will get to experience while you are traveling the world. But there are also some negative things as well. The key is to be aware of the potential negativities. If you are prepared for them, then they won’t affect you as much. If you are not prepared, they will hit you blindsided. Taking a few moments out of your time to learn what you currently don’t know, will be of great benefit to you.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Internet. Seriously, that’s all I need. I just need a local SIM card with 4g, and I’m good to go! Without the internet, I couldn’t communicate to locals (other than with body language…and we all know that can be a bit difficult).
- I don’t need A/C
- I don’t need a beautiful house / hotel
- I don’t need new clothes
- I don’t need games
I am the most basic/simple/plain person you have probably ever met. I just don’t need much to be happy. All I want to do is travel to new locations and meet new local people. That is it.
OK, maybe my camera & laptop for making videos. So that’s 3 things. Oh, and clothing – so I don’t get arrested. There’s 4 ;).
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Papua New Guinea has been on my radar for years. I’ll probably go there when I eventually reach Indonesia. Every time I have checked prices to fly into Papua New Guinea, it has been unbelievably expensive. So, I just figured that I would wait until I am in the neighborhood and simply cross the border or something.
From the outside looking in, it appears that there are a lot of places in which the people are one-with-nature. They live a very rustic and underdeveloped lifestyle. For some reason, I am intrigued by ancient culture and basic human instincts.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365 Watching the sunset over a river in a small village in Bangladesh
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Your time is running out, start living!” – EdgesOfEarth (me)
Somewhere along my YouTube journey, this quote popped into my head. I now say it at the end of almost every video. I realized that many people spend their whole lifetime helping to achieve the dreams of someone else (their boss). And it usually isn’t until old age until most people discover that they have spent their whole lifetime prioritizing someone else’s life, rather than their own. Sad fact, indeed.
Why not consider taking your life back? Why not consider creating a life that is geared towards you and your own personal goals/aspirations? Food for thought.
With every passing day, the window of opportunity becomes smaller and smaller (time is running out). If you don’t treat your own goals seriously, nobody else will. If not now, when?
Where do you hope to travel after the pandemic is over?
My ticket was booked for Sri Lanka, and it has been canceled so many times that I have lost count. After Sri Lanka, I will stay in Delhi, India for a few months, and then I will be off to Pakistan – if all goes well.
Brock of Edges of Earth and SoloTravel365
Brock is a Solo Travel Vlogger and has been on the road since June of 2016. You can usually find him far away from the tourist areas hanging out with the locals. When he’s not wandering around villages, he is usually behind his computer editing his latest video.