#travel around the world
An epic journey to high-five strangers around the world
Sick of his rut as a marketing manager in Atlanta, the 26-year-old Melbourne, Australia, native quit his cushy corporate gig in December 2013 to see the world.
Over the course of roughly a year he ticked off 36 countries and dozens of experiences all while fulfilling the urge for wanderlust.
Now having pulled up in New York — and for the time being not working — he’s put together a high-octane video of his time making friends and sharing adrenaline rushes around the planet.
The video’s gimmick is continuing shots of Lewie sharing high fives with people from Kenya to Turkey to Finland to Hawaii and beyond.
But its soul is that thing all travelers yearn for — authentic connections and experiences in amazing locations around the world.
CNN: Was there a single event that inspired you to quit your job and do this?
Lewie: It was more a slow buildup.
I was lucky enough to travel a lot with work, but it was meetings, airports and hotels, so you never got to really see a city or learn a culture.
CNN. Who are all the people in the video with you?
Lewie: The vast majority were new friends.
Once people heard about my travels and my project they were excited to be a part of it.
CNN: Out of planes, off of cliffs. what’s with all the jumping?
Lewie: I started skydiving three years ago.
At the start of the trip I had about 80 skydives, and completed another 160 while traveling.
After 200 jumps and a lot of coaching I started flying wingsuits and spent time with a mentor in France and England to start BASE jumping.
CNN: Did the great shot of the guy jumping off Beachy Head in the UK take a long time to set up?
Lewie: Actually quite the opposite!
We were all BASE jumping there through the morning — this is how it went down:
Lewie: Can we do a high-five video here?
Ross (friend): How about you high-five the camera and I run off the cliff?
Lewie: Sounds good!
Next minute we are all in the shot and Ross turns and runs!
CNN: What are your favorite moments in the video?
Lewie: My absolute favorite is the kids as the Mother Teresa school (in Uganda).
They don’t even know what a GoPro is, but they see me holding it up and they scream with excitement and pure joy.
There was literally no preparation for those shots.
I finished teaching a health class and at the end just turned around and held the camera up and waved, and the whole class of 80 kids went mental!
CNN: Africa seemed special to you.
Lewie: Volunteering at Wale Wale youth center (in Kenya) and the Mother Teeresa school changed my life.
You cannot put a price on these experiences, and they are by far the first places I would go back to.
CNN: You went to a lot of festivals and events. Which was your favorite?
Lewie: I went back to Australia and attended Falls Festival in Tasmania.
We camped in teepees and it was the first time in nearly a year that I had been with such a large group of friends that I had known for so long.
Really made me appreciate the people close to me in my life!
Second to that, Tomorrowland in Belgium.
It was the most incredible festival experience I’ve ever had.
The costumes, production, the people and the music were all top notch.
CNN: How’d that happy Scot crowd react when the Scottish Referendum vote failed?
Lewie: It was really only the “Yes” crowd that were out making noise, so as soon as the final votes came through around sunrise, the crowd eventually dissipated in an anticlimactic manner.
We were looking forward to an independence party.
CNN: Places you don’t need to return?
Lewie: There was a town called East London in South Africa that we needed to stay in overnight to break up a long drive.
We found a hostel and were strongly recommended to not go out at night, and not venture past each end of the block for our safety.
No rush to go back there.
CNN: Seems you met a lot of good-looking people — did you come away from the
trip with a romantic attachment?
When you travel, you open up yourself to strangers like you never would at home.
(But) you have to be content with the fact that these people live in other parts of the world, and that will be the extent of your friendship or relationship.
To pursue something after traveling would require some significant life decisions, but maybe it’s worth it in the end.
She lives in a different country, but maybe one day.
CNN: Worst ride of the trip?
Lewie: A 30-hour bus from Vietnam into Laos.
It cost $8.
There was no toilet.
We had assembled a fairly international group of backpackers, randoms from different hostels, so we were a team, and the team needed to pee.
So after we had slept for the first eight hours I woke up to find seven Vietnamese families sprawled on the floor down the aisle.
I spider-crawled from the back of the bus on top of the seats to the driver and said, ‘MATE!” The girls need to pee. Or they’ll pee on your bus.
‘OK OK. Ten minutes.’
An hour later he pulled over and the whole bus spilled out onto the road, boys all peeing one side, girls all on the other.
CNN: Did the “high-five” thing get old? That’s a lot of high fives.
Lewie: Yeah it was always about the enthusiasm and screaming initially, but after a lot of those shots I need to come up with some more creative ones.
I did start to get over it, but whenever I showed someone a quick draft, their response helped my enthusiasm come back.
CNN: People see this sort of video and think, “Yeah, that’d be great but
I could never afford it.” How much did this all cost you?
Lewie: I worked hard after university and saved for three years.
Some people put it on a mortgage on a house. I spent it on traveling the world and I don’t have any regrets.
That said, I met a fellow in Zanzibar, an Australian bloke, a nomad.
He doesn’t like money. Doesn’t have money. Doesn’t use money.
He has been traveling for 22 months, backpacking, hitchhiking, playing guitar, working odd jobs for food and accommodation, writing articles, fixing websites, whatever he can do.
He’s been to 14 countries so far and is traveling indefinitely. So you don’t need money to travel.
[You can out his trip at The Nomadic Diaries .]
CNN: Were you creative in covering accommodations?
Lewie: I don’t think I ever stayed in a hotel.
I couch surfed many many times, slept in airports, trains, buses, I purposely planned overnight travel to save on accommodation.
I’ve slept in tents, camper vans, 36-man dorm rooms, beaches, train carriage aisles, playgrounds, floors, where ever necessary!
I’ve figured out the best sleeping positions for different modes of transport, I’ll show you one day.
CNN: What will happen to the “high-five” video now?
Lewie: I love to inspire others to travel.
I love to connect friends around the world.
I’m putting the video on Youtube and hopefully it will be shared and go viral, in which case I should get some income from YouTube ad revenue which will allow me to go back to Wale Wale Youth Centre in Africa.
CNN: Favorite memory?
Lewie: Trekking to Mount Everest base camp. Day four.
My sherpa and I got up early and started trekking.
It was just the two of us, there was no one else around, and the only sound was that of a light breeze through the valley below us, that stretched as far one could see.
We walked around a bend on a small track on the side of a steep hill, and saw Mount Everest for the first time.
The mountain was immense. A giant among giants.
It had a snow-capped peak, with a cloud coming from the tip as if it were smoking. It took my breath away.
At that moment, as I looked at the mountain, something caught my eye: a huge eagle, soaring through the valley below me, toward the mountain.
I’ve never seen an eagle from above, let alone in the Himalayas, let alone in front of Mount Everest.
I stood there motionless and watched the whole scene unfold in front of me.
The whole experience was incredible, and not worthy of a photo, as even the best of photos could not ever explain how epic this experience was.
“Lewie” is a 26-year-old Australian on an adventure around the world. You can find his YouTube channel here and his Instagram page here .
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