Visiting and living the moment in your own way…
Bader Alshuaib is a Kuwaiti traveler who has been traveling solo across the world driven by a passion to seek adventure. He has fed wild hyenas in Ethiopia, walked alongside lions in Zimbabwe, sat next to crocodiles in Mexico, scuba dived with sharks in the Bahamas and walked on the wings of an airplane mid-flight.
The Times Kuwait recently held an interview with Alshuaib to dig deeper into his travels, to learn among other things, what motivates him to travel. “My eagerness to explore the unknown and a passion for adventure is what pushes me to travel, despite social media sites taking away the fun of exploring a new destination with numerous sketchy coverages. Nevertheless, visiting and living the moment in your own way and style makes the experience and the memory of any destination unique,” said Alshuaib.
Elaborating on social media affecting the travel industry, Alshuaib noted: “Media affects the travel industry and not always in a positive way. First we have the print media, which mainly focuses on negativity, on political issues and conflicts, that often creates fear among travelers. Then comes social media, where influencers and travel content creators focus on showing their travels as positive, fun and luxurious, based on their own agenda. But neither media sources are fully accurate. All they do is cancel out the other side of the story.
“Although I too am a travel content creator, I strive to remain different. To start with, I am not sponsored. I travel on my own expenses and on a tight budget! So there is no hidden agenda or benefits from my travels besides living my own experiences. What I post on my social media is what I experience, with no filters to make something seem other than what it is in reality. Moreover, my coverage is from a budget friendly side. In addition, most of my travel coverage is lifestyle blogging rather than tourism promoting.”
Expanding on his passion for travel that has so far taken him to around 100 countries, the travel-bug bitten young man said: “I enjoyed traveling from a very young age in the company of my family, but when I grew up it was hard to find other like-minded people in my social circle to travel together, not to mention that each of us had their own commitments, schedule and budget. In 2016, I made the decision to travel the world solo; serious planning for the trip began in 2018 and my solo travel kicked off at the start of 2020.
“Traveling a hundred countries in three years may seem a lot, and would work out to around 33 countries a year. But trust me, it is all meticulously planned out, and I travel full time, so almost all 365 days of the year are spent on traveling. In some countries it does not take more than four days to see the main destinations or experience it. For others, in four days you are barely able to cover the capital city.
“And then there are regions where a group of countries share similar culture, geography, and nature — so basically it is the same experience, except that it is in a different country. When you travel to such places back to back, you do not need to spend a lot of time in one place, especially since the main focus in my travels is to seek adventure and create my own travel experience. Exploring the culture, enjoying the cuisine or relaxing in nature are only of secondary importance to me.
Then there are countries that are so large that to explore the whole country, or even its various regions would need months, or several repeat visits. But this way, you could spend your entire life traveling and still not cover every country in the world. So what I do in my travels is exactly like eating at a buffet. Taste a sample of everything, or at least the things you like, and once you are done and feel you need more of a dish you liked, you go back to that dish to savor it in more depth.”
Turning to the types of adventures he likes engaging in, Alshuaib explained that he seeks any activity that brings an adrenaline rush, or is thrilling. “Sometimes, something as simple as a hiking trip with beautiful rewarding sceneries is an adventure to me. For example, some people visit Machu Picchu in Peru by taking the luxury train and then driving up to the entrance, or even staying at the nearby hotel to just walk up to the entrance gate in the morning, all relaxed and with no sweat.
“But what I did was go on a multiple-day adventure hike through the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, walking along one of the trails used by the ancient Incas centuries ago. This involved a lot of mountain hiking and it was tiring, energy consuming and at times I was in terrible pain, but the trip and the views along the way, as well as the entire experience was an adventure well worth the effort.”
In answer to the safety aspect of his trips, and which trip was the most memorable adventure so far, the young traveler commented: “Yes, most of the time there is no safety involved, but for me, safety is a matter of asking has this been done before, and then evaluating the risks based on experiences others have had. If others have gone through this experience and the rate of risk is relatively low, I will go ahead. But I make sure to follow all the instructions given by the guide.
“As far as the most memorable adventure is concerned, I would say all are memorable in their own unique way, and I do not like to repeat experiences that I have gone through before. However, if I had to choose one adventure that was most adrenaline pumping, it would be walking on the wings of a plane while in flight. Because, with that activity, one wrong move or step, and only God knows what would happen.
“For that adventure, I had to leave my seat while the plane was flying and then climb to the top of the aircraft and strap myself to a pole so that the plane could do acrobatic flips in the air. Then unstrap myself and get down to walk on the wings of the plane by clutching on another pole. While on the wings there were no straps to keep me safe as the plane did its acrobatic flips again. So it was literally a life or death experience.”
Clambering up to a mountain summit may seem a climb down from flipping around on the wings of a plane, but Alshuaib has done his fair share of mountaineering as well. “Yes, I have climbed one of the ‘Seven Summits’ that serious mountaineers aim to achieve. The first mountain summit I climbed was one of the ‘Seven’ — Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and this climb ignited an urge in me to try other mountains. So since then, I have climbed the highest peak in Iran, as well as in Mexico and did other smaller mountains in Central America too. Hopefully I plan to try Mount Elbrus in Russia as well, and probably a couple of other mountains in Asia, Australia and Oceania.
“But I do not consider myself a professional mountaineer; it is not my passion or my main focus at the moment. Moreover, I suffer after each mountaineering expedition, as they require a lot of energy, time and dedicated training. And, I cannot at the moment dedicate that much time to training, due to my ongoing busy schedule traveling and focusing on travel plans and side adventures.”
Asked about his goals, what he hopes to achieve from his travels and his work as a travel content creator, Alshuaib replied: “As a goal, besides visiting every country in the world, my plan is to explore more of this planet by going beyond just visiting every country. After I achieve my initial goal of traveling to every country, I hope to continue traveling, either on my own expenses or through sponsorship, to different islands and other territories around the world. I want to experience festivals celebrated in different nations and try indulging in cultural habits that are unique.
“There are many places I want to visit and activities I want to do or events I want to experience, but they require a certain specific month or season of the year. With a goal to travel to every country it would be difficult to plan my travels around those months or seasons. That is why I have to sacrifice things that I would like to experience for another visit another time.
“As a travel content creator I hope I grow my following, because the engagement and interaction with my followers is what pushes me to create more content and helps me get recognized internationally. International recognition is important for a traveler since I spend most of my time outside of Kuwait. To have contacts internationally could potentially help me plan my trips efficiently, as well as probably gain access to better services for future festivals, events, or unique experiences that probably are not available to the general public.”
You can find Bader Alshuaib on his social media handles on Youtube and Instagram at: @WhereIsBader or use #WhereIsBader