Lonely Planet Writer

Pathfinder spotlight: Richard Collett, Travel Tramp

Richard exploring an abandoned hotel in Bali © Richard Collett Richard exploring an abandoned hotel in Bali © Richard Collett

With overtourism becoming an ever increasing issue in the travelsphere, this month we were drawn to Richard Collett’s brilliant blog travel-tramp.com, which is dedicated to exploring lesser-known locales around the planet.

Tell us about your blog…

My blog is all about getting off the beaten track and encouraging others to do the same. I love to travel to what you would call more ‘unusual’ destinations. I’m more at home searching out weird stories about sunken cemeteries in the Philippines or investigating breakaway territories in the Caucasus than I am sitting on a beach in Thailand. There’s nothing wrong with sitting on a beach in Thailand, but it’s just not for me.

I have a fascination with history, borders and politics which all spill over into my writing and my travels. I wanted my blog to not just help people with the practical side of travel, but also to help people explore deeper than the standard sights.

Describe your travel style in three words…

Unusual, adventurous, investigative.

Looking out over the landscape from a mountaintop in East Timor © Richard Collett Looking out over the landscape from a mountaintop in East Timor © Richard Collett

Top three places you've visited?

Georgia (the country), Northern Mindanao in the Philippines and East Timor.

What's on your travel wish list for the rest of 2018?

I’ve been back home in England for the last few months after a trip to Mindanao in the Philippines, and I can’t wait to get on the road again! I’ve got a flight booked to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, as I’ll be covering the World Nomad Games. Then I’ll be travelling the Pamir Highway into Tajikistan and, depending on the situation, will be looking to cross the border for a relaxing holiday in the Wakhan region of Northern Afghanistan. After that, a quick getaway in Iraqi Kurdistan, before heading home just in time for Christmas!

Tell us about your most unforgettable travel memory…

My most unforgettable travel memory is when I first got really out of my comfort zone. I was travelling in Moldova, and in the capital Chişinău I was already fairly out of my comfort zone. Then I heard about this small strip of land called Transdniestr, officially a part of Moldova but sometimes seen as a breakaway territory.

A Lenin statue in Tiraspol, Transdniestr © Richard Collett A Lenin statue in Tiraspol, Transdniestr © Richard Collett

I’d read that it felt like it was still in the Soviet Union era, with statues of Lenin in the city and KGB agents on the border, so understandably I was terrified to cross into the mini-state. In the end, a Moldovan friend convinced me to go so I got a lift into the ‘capital’ Tiraspol and spent two days exploring without encountering a single issue – it was a surreal but thrilling experience. After that, I wasn’t quite so scared of anything. I went straight onto Ukraine and Chernobyl, then to places like Northern Cyprus, Turkish Kurdistan, North Korea, East Timor, Mindanao and many more destinations that you don’t usually consider holiday destinations.the

What advice would you give to someone looking to do more intrepid travel?

Go where you fear to tread. That’s always been the motto of my blog and of my travels. For me, the best part about travel is getting out of your comfort zone and I’m always trying to encourage others to do the same, because the rewards are immense.

Why do you think it's important to take the road less-travelled?

The world is such a huge and diverse place, and if we were to contain ourselves to just a few select areas and countries, we’d miss out on so many opportunities. There’s so much waiting out there to be discovered, and often that involves taking the road less travelled. It’s not always easy, but it’s those memories that stay with you for the rest of your life, those offbeat moments you can’t find anywhere else.

If you’re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, keep your eye on the Lonely Planet Pathfinders forum for our monthly spotlight call-out.