Tommy Walker always knew he wanted to travel.
Living in a small, working class town in Northeast England, the now 29-year-old remembers dreaming of somewhere exotic, somewhere "far, far away from here" as a child, he told Business Insider.
In his early 20s, he finally got the chance to go. Tired of a 9-5 corporate job at a product management company, he bought a ticket to Sweden, intending to work his way down by the Eurorail to explore the continent.
Then, his dad got sick, and he postponed his trip, settling for shorter-term stays instead.
In 2011, his father died, leaving Walker and his brother an inheritance through his workplace that Walker chose to split into pieces: about 60% on longer-term investments, and 30% on travel, starting with an ambitious trip to Southeast Asia.
He acknowledges that some people might consider his windfall a stroke of luck, but says he wishes some things had turned out differently. "Sure, I got an inheritance," he said, "but at the end of the day it's my father. It's no compensation for what happened, but obviously, it helped me get to where I am today."
His inheritance stopped fully funding his travels — which you can follow via Facebook, Instagram, or through his website — before the first of four years was up. Since then, he's been in a cycle of working, saving, and traveling. "I've always been lucky enough to find work and make money," he said, "so once I started this travel journey, I always felt that I'd always find money if I wanted to buy something later on."
Below, Walker explained the gritty reality behind long-term travel, why you don't need a windfall to leave home, and how he now affords to stay on the road.
Walker started his adventure with a ticket to Bangkok, to backpack Southeast Asia. He chose his destination in part because his father, a Buddhist, wished later in life that he would have traveled more.
In Bangkok, Thailand.
"That feeling of being in Asia, I'll never get that back," Walker reflected. "Any traveler who’s been traveling for more than two years will say you can't get that initial feeling back — you're naive and you don't really know a lot, and everything is new and there's no expectation. Southeast Asia is perfect for that, because it's so different to Western culture. It's such an incredible vortex to be pushed into."
After 10 months backpacking Southeast Asia, Walker moved to Australia to find a job and shore up his savings again. He ended up in Melbourne with two: a day job working in IT, and a part-time gig as a host at a restaurant.
In Melbourne, Australia.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider