“With footsteps and hands converging toward me, I understood my fate. Hands clutched the back of my shirt, and my body slammed against the wall. Three men snarled at me with crooked teeth. Eager to take my belongings, one of the men forced a knife against my ribs. Helpless, my skin ready to be pierced, I wondered for a brief second—how on earth did I get myself into this position?”
– Excerpt “From Backpacker To Traveller”.
Drew Prineas new book “From Backpacker To Traveller” is a travel memoir that rediscovers the more memorable moments of Drew’s life on the road. It covers five years of his travels through Europe, India and South America.
Drew has visited 120 countries and along the way has learnt a lot about the world, and about himself. Drew caught up with whatisthehaps so we could learn more about his story.
Where are you from?
I’m from Parramatta in the west of Sydney.
How did the story from Backpacker to Traveller come about?
Whenever something strange or eventful happened whilst travelling, I’d tell that story to anyone who cared to listen. I then took their comments too literally,
“… You know you could write a book about that!”
How long did the book take to write?
I travelled and documented for four and a half years, explored 120+ countries spanning 10-years. After that I spent the next three very disciplined years writing, editing, rearranging as well as continuing my travels to places like East Timor and Indonesia to clear my mind.
At the beginning I kept writing to see how much I had so I could discover how I wanted to tell my story. With each draft there was a mixed bag of emotions from feeling drained to excitement. Now it’s complete, I can say it has been a highly fulfilling experience. Enough so, it has encouraged me to write a second.
Strangest thing that happened during your travels:
The diversity in the world makes it hard to pinpoint one thing because everyday had something strange about it. At one moment I was sucking in thin air hiking the mountains, next I was washing my feet at a mosque, to replacing a blown tyre in the rain at the Redwoods Forest.
That night after successfully replacing the tyre, I arrived in Eugene, Oregon and had a few drinks at a Dive Bar. A local inquisitive man invited me to a restaurant across the road. We entered and it turned out to be a Gay and Lesbian Country Music Karaoke night at a Japanese restaurant.
I was bought rounds of quality scotch and thought I’d request myself to sing a Hank Williams classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. Five minutes later the host announced, “OKAY DREW! IT’S YOUR TURN!” I thought, ‘Gee, that was quick…” I placed my scotch on the table and in the process of standing I saw another man walk to the stage. He was dressed with cowboy hat, boots and tight jeans. It turned out the cowboy was also called Drew and had requested the same song as me. I was incredibly jealous… He did an excellent rendition too!
Why did you write the book?
I did it partly for myself and partly because I knew I had a story that people would enjoy reading.
I never set out to see the world as much as I have done. By now I was to be married with a few kids and half way through a mortgage. Yet there I was at home starting all over again after all these amazing experiences. I wanted to rediscover how, when and why I chose to travel for as long as I had been. I didn’t want my travels to be just a distant memory. The book is a very personal account that has left me a little vulnerable but I’ve liked how travel has enhanced and satisfied my life during some of life’s most significant moments.
I’d also like to think my account could be passed down the generations of my family and also maybe give some people out there that final nudge they need to hit the road… Maybe even satisfy others who have always wondered what it would be like to travel the world.
Don’t just learn from your own mistakes, learn from others mistakes as well…
I was a slow learner at times …
I don’t want this to sound too self-centered but I’m not really inspired by anyone. Learning more about the world and how I am choosing to fit in it inspires me.
What should people pay more attention to?
We should concentrate on putting things into perspective and enjoy the little things in life. I was in Kazakhstan years ago and it was tulip season. I’ve sung in “The Kop” for a Liverpool game, escaped a burning bus in Africa but man those red tulips left a lasting impression! I took as much pleasure climbing out of that bus as I did taking photos of those Kazakh tulips.
I’ve learned that a balanced life is what I want. Embrace the good with the bad equally – A few of the worst moments of my travels and in life became some of the most insightful moments that could have happened to me.