Hey, I’m Dan…
…In Short: I’m obsessed with exploring the world, meeting amazing people (and goats) and getting as lost as possible with my camera. I was on the road for 1467 days between 2014 – 2018, taking a chance on changing my career from restaurants to capturing the world and somehow it all worked out…
… The long one: Welcome to my little corner of the WWW. Dan here, and I guess this is the place where I tell you about how I gave up my high flying corporate job because I hated the cubicle and sold it all to travel the world and chase this blogging dream…. but that wouldn’t be true for a few main reasons:
1-I had nothing to sell, and more debt than savings
2-I was a restaurant manager
3-I never planned or wanted to be a blogger
But, nearly five years on here I am, still travelling, although not full time anymore (I managed about 1500days before making some more permanent roots again – Portugal now being home) and somehow, I guess, a ‘professional blogger’ among other things.
Those other things being a photographer, travel writer, creative director at my media company in Portugal, videographer, and whatever else I find myself doing in the wacky world of travel.
Just a quick lowdown on my travel style and what to expect on this site: a bit of everything.
Sometimes I book fancy hotels cause I want a treat, other times I go camping and eat noodles for days on end with a paintbrush because I forgot chopsticks or a fork. There’s not one particular theme to this blog because I don’t think that’s how life really is, we change and what we enjoy changes.
I try and focus on good value travel, which doesn’t always mean cheap, it means getting the most out of what you spend and the trip you plan, and although I don’t have a goal to visit every country in the world, I’m interested in a huge variety of cultures and countries, so this blog doesn’t focus on one particular continent for example.
Travel for me is about education and the people I meet always make the trip, that’s why I usually like to fly solo – it makes it heaps easier to connect with the locals and get an inside look at a destination and you’ll most likely find me lost somewhere, camera in hand trying to blag my way through a conversation in a language I don’t really get – if you see me, come say hi :)
So, what do you want to know? I always find these about me pages a bit weird to write but hey, one slightly boring biography coming up.
I was born in the U.K., and although I always had an obsession with planes and aviation, I didn’t really take a gap-year, and it wasn’t until my early 20s that I really discovered travelling.
Anyhow, this blog was born in 2013, I think, mainly to write really crappy articles, add a few semi-bad photos, and keep my family informed on my little weekend trips. Not that they actually read it they have since admitted, so I’m not sure who those 18 monthly visitors were. Back then, I was challenging myself to make two-day trips to Europe for £100 all in, flights, accommodation, the lot, to break up the crazy working hours of being a waiter.
Somehow I’ve grown from those 18 people to over a million page views a year – something I still can’t believe and I’m genuinely grateful that people come to visit this site, especially the patient ones who read this long-winded, slightly pointless, and non-sensical page.
So in 2014, I quit my job as a restaurant manager in London, it was a great busy restaurant and one of the coolest spots in London. I didn’t quit because I hated it, but curiosity of what else was out there had got the better of me.
It was September, and I didn’t really have enough money in my current account (4000 GBP) and also had a fair bit of credit card debt too (update, August 2019, I’m just about to clear it!). I then met someone and fell in love the month before my one-way ticket to Indonesia. So, I did the sensible thing and got on the plane and hoped for the best, both in love, money, and Bali-belly.
I was Dan, I was flying, and I was solo – and that’s how the lamest blog name ever was born.
The next four years were a whirlwind; I travelled to some 50 countries, that love decided to move to the other side of the world to be together. Australian visa dramas followed and breakups happened, I started freelancing for Lonely Planet, got a photographer job at a tour company, did a poll on the internet of whether I should drag my heartbroken ass to move to New Zealand or Scotland in 2017. New Zealand won, so dutifully I got on a flight on December 31st and moved there.
Want to know what happens on a China Eastern flight at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Nothing, they turned the lights off at 11.50, and that was goodnight.
I didn’t love living in New Zealand as it was a bit far away from home, and decided I couldn’t waste any more time or emotion or money on trying to get back to Australia, so I went and visited some friends in Portugal, they gave me countless cocktails, I ended up behind the bar mixing messy drinks and the next day I went and filled out some forms and became a resident. Which unrelatedly happened to help with the old Brexit situation too. Woohoo.
I’ve lived in UK, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and now Portugal.
How did I get into this travel photography business? I was continually trying to learn new skills when I first started travelling as a) I didn’t want to rush back and b) my money wasn’t going to last long, especially with my credit card minimum payments.
I started with photography and web design, did lots of free online course and watched YouTube, and gradually developed a skill set that gave me a new opportunity, which was great, as I was broke AF and had gone back to London for two months with a temporary job at my old workplace.
This is getting a bit rambly now, and I’m writing it from the middle seat of a Wizz Air flight to Kyiv, which is my least favourite place to write from, so I’ll wrap it up with some favourites/FAQs as it’s likely no one is reading this far anyway…
What camera do I use?
I shoot with a Canon 5Dii which is second hand, and the make is 11 years old – so I don’t think you need the newest and best gear to get into photography. I actually had all my gear stolen a few years ago (so get insurance kids) and that was the replacement camera I could afford at the time. I’m about to get the Sony a7RIV as I’m doing way more video work now – but the best camera for starting with is the one you have in your hand!
How do I get into blogging?
I don’t have an article or anything about getting into blogging or tips for starting out, other than that random mess of words above, partly because I want my site and traffic to stay focused on places and people, not me, but mainly because as you can see, I have no actionable tips except save up more money than I did, keep learning always, and only do what you are passionate about or creativity will dry up and you’ll end up hating what can be a not overly well-paid job. Do travel photographer because you love it, not because you want free trips!
My friend Janet has one of the best posts on this subject though, and she’s still a hardcore travelling loving legend through and through so go check her post on being a blogger out for more answers.
Also I LOVE getting messages, comments and emails from you guys about places etc. – but I get about 50 a week about how to do this as a job, and I’ve really not got much to say on the matter as you can see, it’s a trial and error for everyone – this is how I started working with Lonely Planet though.
Favourite people, I’ve met on my travels, because there the most important moments.
Simla – an absolute legend who gave me my first pro photographer job at her tour company. Survived a brain haemorrhage and went on to build a pretty amazing empowerment tourism company. Her story is pretty incredible.
Binna – one of the nicest guys ever, I first met him on a Lonely Planet video shoot in Queensland Australia I was presenting, when I was asked to make a promo video for Three Mobile and LP in Australia, and they gave me full range of any Australian experience I could pick, and I chose the Aboriginal art and culture, as I don’t think enough visitors to Australia give this time. Binna was a legend, showed me his local area of Mossman and Port Douglas, and then we met again a year later when I suggested to Simla she made a tour to discover the Aboriginal heritage of tropical North Queensland which she did, amazing.
Sonu – from Delhi for all the amazing work she does in the slums there creating school places for kids.
Amanda – in New Zealand who reached out on Instagram when she saw I was moving there and became a great friend, and even let me housesit – I’ll always appreciate Amanda and her friendship!
Nicki – who I also met on Instagram and then somehow we were on a camping trip in Oman, no idea how that happened, and now I’m on route to Tajikistan to meet her – though pretty sure this Trek will be the last thing my body can handle right now. Anyway, she rocks, and blos about off the beaten path spots.
The dude sat next to me on my flight right now handing me Haribo – what a legend. I speak zero Ukrainian, so don’t have a name, but anyone that shares their Haribo deserves a shout out.
Ahhh there are so many more amazing people, but my fingers are hurting from typing this on the phone so will come back and finish this later (narrator: he never did).
Favourite cities and why:
Lisbon – it’s sexy, it’s cool, it’s Portuguese, and it’s soon to be my home. Honestly, there’s something about those cobbled streets that makes me grin and love life.
Sydney – loved living here, city and beach combine together, and the quality of life is pretty decent here.
Rio – absolutely one of the best trips of my life and also my first trip outside of Europe/USA – I went with friends from work in London who are dancers ith the samba schools, and we hopped between the different dance schools in the favelas and I even got to dance down the samba drone at carnival. It was a trip with its heartbreaking challenges, but absolutely amazing and I have to credit my two dear friends who took me, the English village boy under their wing and shared their culture and country with me so openly and thoroughly, without them and this trip I don’t know how I would view and understand the world, but their education is pricesless and I will always be greatful to them.
Bologna in Italy, can’t pinpoint it but I could easily live here and slowly turn into a big fat piece of pasta.
Sarajevo – the culture and history and cake and people and just everything. It’s not the most beautiful of cities but damn its amazing.
Edinburgh – Scottish people, Festivals, culture and those Scottish accents!
St Petersburg – so much beauty and personality, went as part of a cruise but must go back!
Favourite countries in no particular order: (of the 67ish I’ve been to)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dominica (not the Dominica republic)
Favourite travel story:
When Lilly got the car stuck on a hill in Albania, and the policeman and she had a hand-language playoff
Camping in Oman with Nicole and Jeremy and we sneak into a beach resort and then our camper stove blows up alerting everyone to our presence. Also when I got my goat selfie there.
Filming in the mangroves of Queensland with the LP film Crew and their faces when Binna started talking about the crocodiles.
Going to India with Janet and Vicky and basically sitting on a bus for the whole four-day trip and then getting stuck on a boat and missing the main part of the festival we were there for – such a delirious mess of a trip but I kind of cherish it as it was an epic experience, and what I briefly did experience of the worlds largest human gathering (50 million + people) was epic and otherwordly, The Kumbh Mela.
Meeting another Dan in a smoking room in Myanmar, and then reconnecting later because the Mayor of Ljubljana has shared one of my articles and he recognised it was me.
The whole shit show which was my trip to Thailand, my first to Asia and we ended up ditching it and going to Indonesia instead as it was such a comedy of errors. It’s where my love of Indo comes from, and I have Louise to thank for that. All those stories, including an unfortunate incident with the Big Mac, are thankfully in a journal and not online.
Oh man, so many more, so many of them not even on the blog yet – I get distracted my travelling and living in the moment and then forget actually to write about the trip.
Okay, we’re about to land in Ukraine, and it’s 3 am, so that’s it for the about me page that it will likely take another four years to update. so this random pile of meh will sit here for a while.
I’ve booked a hotel here based entirely on the fact the carpets are the most garish I’ve ever seen, so got that to look forward to before Nicki kills unfit me on this Tajik trek! And someone even asked for my middle seat and gave me an aisle so they could sit next to their wife, what a legend!
Thanks for reading, I hope you find some helpful stuff here (on the blog, certainly not this page), and find me on the socials if you want irregular updates on my travels
Ps. I’ll re-read this one day and wonder what kinda sleep-deprived rant I was on…