Off The Beaten Path Interviews

An inside look at Earth’s explorers

This new weekly series will introduce some of the modern world’s great explorers. It’s focus will be on how they engage and connect with the disconnected planet… in other words – people who venture down the roads less travelled, and explore the world off the beaten path.

What better way to kick it off than with the producer of the infamous Off The Path travel blog himself. Having spent the majority of his life living as an expat, he is truly a child of the earth. It is my pleasure to introduce the fellow off the beaten path world explorer, Sebastian Canaves.

Sebastian riding a horse in Nicaragua - off the beaten path

Sebastian riding a horse in Nicaragua

 

The Goods

Sebastian, travelling was introduced to you at a very young age. When you travelled with your family, I imagine you visited a lot of places that were relatively on the tourist trail. When was the first time you felt you were really travelling off the beaten path?

Growing up in Mallorca, Spain I was always off the beaten path. You could always find me high up in the mountains or down by the sea. The first time I felt truly off the path while traveling I think was when I was living in Australia in 2008. I was traveling alone with my holden jackaroo, with no itinerary and only one goal in mind: Get to know the country. I met incredible people and saw beautiful landscapes. In Australia I was bitten by the travel bug and we all know that there is no antidote for that! 🙂

When you decided to start travelling off the beaten path independently, it must have been a slightly different dynamic. You now had to choose all the next moves for yourself. All decisions, planning, financing, and everything else involved with travelling was now up to you. Was there ever a moment when you felt completely lost, scared or alone? How did you overcome it in a foreign environment?

Oh yes, I remember it very well. I just turned 18 and packed my bags to move to Australia. It was a very spontaneous decision just because I got offered a job there. There I was in Brisbane, alone, no clue what to do, how do I find an apartment and how do I know it’s good? Where do I order the internet, electricity, water etc… so many things to take care of and start a career. I remember many calls I had with my mum where I was about to quit and return home. I didn’t. I ended up staying and had the time of my life! I made friends for life! I think the key was to meet new people quickly who were able to help out a little here and there, especially finding off the beaten path spots to explore.

Travelling off the beaten path can take you to some pretty special places. Although I’m sure there are countless, what is one of the coolest or most obscure spots you ever found? How did you find yourself there?

Only one? I think truly off the beaten path was when I was in Nicaragua! It’s a long story involving an ex-girlfriend however, we were chilling for a month near Playa El Gigante, a small bay about 30 kms away from Rivas and only accessible from a dirt road or from the water. All I did there was reading, hiking, yoga and surfing and drinking Flor de Caña for a whole month! It was a good time and I hope to find more of those off the beaten path places around the world in 2013.

Sebastian Stand Up Paddling in Nicaragua - off the beaten path

Sebastian Stand Up Paddling in Nicaragua

 

Have you been to any festivals which you felt were a truly cultural immersive experience? Where was it? How was it different/special?

I was amazed by the Songkran Festival in Thailand. Not only because of all the water fights but of the meaning behind the festival. I celebrated with thai friends and some other falangs and had a great and wet week. I think it was during Songkran that I had the first and only hot shower while living a year in Thailand.

You’ve been living much of your life as an expat in countries all over the world. What has been one of the biggest challenges in living in such a nomadic way? What has been one of the biggest rewards?

 Challenge and reward are the same thing. Owning barely nothing! The last 5 years all I owned fitted in a backpack which was great because you are free but after all these years I got tired of pre-furnished apartments, hostels and hotels. I wanted to have a place where I was home, which was decorated the way I like it and I finally wanted to buy a shirt without having to throw away another one. This year I became semi nomadic and I like it.

You’re a pretty sociable guy. You find yourself interacting with locals wherever you go. Do any stand out in making a big impact in your life, or your outlook on life? How so?

 Again Australians, these guys are just incredible. At least all the guys I met during my life and travels there. In 2010 I returned for a small off the beaten path road trip in Western Australia. To make a long story short, the road trip was canceled due to the floods. We found shelter at a farm where I guy I knew from my university was doing his work and holiday. We had some great nights with my friend and Mario and his family (the owners) and they invited us to stay for Christmas. We stayed and had an amazing time. The next day I was supposed to fly to Sydney. Instead, the family gave me $300 to change my flight and I swam with wild dolphins off the coast of Bunbury. Something I will never forget! I’m so grateful for this experience and that I  met these people. They are a big part of who I am today!

Sebastian swimming with a dolphin in Australia - off the beaten path

Sebastian swimming with a dolphin in Australia

 

For a new traveller, do you have any tips on how to engage in conversation with locals, or in finding the best off the beaten path spots?

The first thing I often do is getting lost in a place. I just wander around without a map and only some spare change. Some people might think that’s risky, but I like to get to know the place. If I get tired and want to go home, I would usually just take the taxi. However, since I only have spare change with me, I can’t afford the taxi and simply walk in the next bar order a beer and start to chat with people! Believe me or not, I made some good friends this way! It’s all about tricking yourself sometimes 🙂

Amazing, Sebastian! That’s definitely pretty daring, but life is about taking risks sometimes. Of course, it’s also about knowing where your comfort-zone lies, and although I encourage people to push their limits – take baby steps first. Thanks for sharing all your worldly experience with us! We really look forward to hearing about all your future off the beaten path experiences!!

Do you consider yourself an “Off the beaten path” explorer? Would you like to get featured in one of our weekly interviews? Please send us an email at connect(at)wheresidewalksend(dot)com and let us know how you like to inspire people to explore the world, for our consideration.

If you have any questions, or comments, for Sebastian please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!