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While our term in Athens, Greece, was getting underway, our students had the opportunity to interview a remarkable man of Greek heritage, a world traveler whose journeys have led him across 90+ countries, resulting in an impressive array of stamps in his dog-eared passport.Leon Logothetis is the star of the National Geographic series “The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody,” which documented his attempts to live on a mere five dollars a day and the kindness of strangers in cities across the United States and Europe.
An intrepid adventurer, Leon has also embarked on multiple philanthropic journeys to advocate for child literacy programs. He’s driven a London cab across America and come face-to-face with death during the 10,000 mile Mongol rally, which stretches from London to Ulaanbataar. In the end, Leon survived his 2011 rally attempt and went on to complete the rally in 2012, resulting in 10,000 books being donated to the non-profit organization Classwish.
Five Questions with a thought leader in adventure travel
Leon’s years roughing it on the road have made him as travel savvy as they come, and he was kind enough to allow our students to pick his brain about anything they wanted. Fellow nomads themselves, our students inquired about everything from overcoming language barriers to the role kindness plays in global connectivity.
1) What is your “golden rule” of safety when you travel?
Leon: I think as travelers we learn to tap into a sixth sense, we learn to feel out situations and we intuitively know what is safe and what is not safe. I would say that my golden rule for safety is to follow my gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it most probably isn’t right. Don’t override that sixth sense.It has saved me many times and I am sure that some of you have used it to keep you safe on your own travels.
2) What first inspired you to have the mindset you have now about travel and philanthropy and what inspires you to start the projects that you start?
Leon: What inspired me to start my travels was a deep sense of unfulfillment. I was living someone else’s vision of my life working as a broker in the city of London. I watched the movie The motorcycle diaries which was a romanticized version of Che Guevara traveling across South America relying on the kindness of strangers. It showed me that I could do what this man was doing. Art inspired me to live fully. I realized that with these new gifts I was receiving whilst traveling the world I needed to give back to people. I like to call travel ‘The School of Life’ and I was learning so much. I wanted to give what I learnt back to others.
I am inspired to start my projects by a desire to see the world, have adventures (both internal and external ones) and to become the best version of me possible. And then to take that version of me and try to inspire people to live fully!
3) How do you go about connecting with strangers while dealing with a language barrier?
Leon:The real language is not spoken. The real language is felt (feelings). I was once stranded in Uzbekistan and ended up sleeping the night with an Uzbekistani melon seller. He didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t speak a word of Uzbekistani! But we bonded. I felt safe with him. He (and his family) felt safe with me.
4) In your opinion, what role does kindness play in global connectivity?
Leon: I think that kindness is a critical component of human connection. I find that the news media tends to put a magnifying glass onto the negative things that happen in the world. That is not to say that bad things don’t happen, they do, but as I am sure you have all seen, goodness happens far more often! If we could come from a place of positivity and compassion things would indeed be very different in our little blue world I say this without being Pollyanish. I understand that things are not always going to go well, but if we focus on the good then who knows what ripples we can start…
5) Do you have any advice on living cheaply in any country?
Leon: This may sound obvious, but go to countries that are not expensive! If you go to Tokyo you may find it harder to live cheaply than if you go to Bangkok. That is not to say you can’t live cheaply in Tokyo but its harder! Also connect with the locals. They always have the trade secrets of the cities.
The Kindness Diaries
Last year, Leon’s book “The Kindness Diaries” was published. “The Kindness Diaries” details Leon’s epic journey motoring across the world on a bright-yellow vintage motorcycle, subsisting solely on the generosity of others. In return for reassessing his faith in the good of mankind, Leon would often repay those who offered him a place to rest and eat with a life-altering gift. “The Kindness Diaries” is available for sale on Amazon, and be sure to follow Leon on Twitter and Instagram to see where he is headed next!