Sitting Down with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle
Recently we caught up with world traveler and author Colin Wright. We discussed his experiences on the road, the meaning of Exile Lifestyle (the name of his blog), and his latest book titled Act Accordingly.
1. As a world traveler, entrepreneur and author, you wear multiple hats. How did you get started on this unconventional path?
I got started with entrepreneurship in college — I thought I saw a better way to do things in the magazine industry, so I gave it a shot and got hooked on the feeling of solving problems and taking risks.
Traveling and authoring have been more recent passions. I’ve always wanted to travel, but didn’t make it out of the US until I was 24, and only then by minimizing my life in LA — which was overloaded with work and the pursuit of increased success — and reducing down to what would fit in a carry-on bag. I started up a blog and asked my readers where I should move, and I haven’t stopped yet (four years later).
Writing is something I’ve always been fascinated in, but I never thought I’d write a book. I started blogging when I started traveling, though, and I found that I could achieve great satisfaction through the written word, much like I’d always found in art and design before. I tried my hand at a book, and then fell into it. Now, with fifteen books on the market and another working its way through editors, I’m well and truly hooked on publishing both fiction and nonfiction works.
2. You’ve been all over the globe. Which place stands out to you the most and why?
They all stand out for different ways, honestly.
I do go back to Iceland a whole lot, because they’ve got a recent history that’s endlessly fascinating, and a culture that I appreciate on many levels, and a climate that is crazy exciting and conducive to my creative process. But I would gladly go back to any place I’ve been to, not to mention all the places I’ve yet to go. I love novelty and strangeness and finding the quirky bits of all the new homes I live in.
3. Last year, you traveled to 48 states in the US and did it on Greyhound. Why did you choose to travel by bus?
I wanted to hit all 48 contiguous states, so a large coverage was important. Trains didn’t hit the mark there. I also wanted to do it on a budget — something a student could afford, almost like a ‘gap year’ (which is a trip kids take after high school, before college, in much of the world) for a budget-conscious American student. That knocked airlines out of the running; as did my desire to see the US from the ground. I love flying, but I love staring out a window at the endless and gorgeous sites around North America even more. The trip was about taking the time to take it all in.
4. What was the most memorable part of the journey?
Wow, I don’t know how to choose! A lot of the stories are featured in my book, Iceland India Interstate, the latter third of the book documenting the journey. I will say I got an amazing tour of a revived New Orleans and worked on a communal farm in Albuquerque.
5. What’s the most important piece of advice you can offer to our readers who may be considering embarking on a similar challenge?
Make sure you know what your budget is and overestimate how much you’ll spend. Figure out what you’re hoping to get out of the journey, and focus on that rather than some Hollywood ideal of what travel is supposed to be. Recognize that the spaces in between places are just as — if not more — important as the destination. Bring earplugs and a warm jacket.
6. Your latest book is titled Act Accordingly. What inspired this?
I’ve been building up a philosophical framework for a while — a collection of tools that have helped me figure out what I believe and how that impacts my life (and how I can use that knowledge to become a better version of myself). Act Accordingly summarizes these tools and makes them available to anyone who might want to use them. I wrote it because it seems like a lot of the books on philosophy out there are either history books or one-size-fits-all psychological diet scams that tell you who to be and how. I don’t think I know the answers for everyone; I just have some ideas of how they might be able to figure out those answers for themselves.
7. Can you tell us what living an Exile Lifestyle means to you?
It means challenging convention, not because convention is bad, but because sometimes there are better answers, ways of doing things, and lifestyles available, and one of them might work for us. It’s about pursuing knowledge and taking in new experiences and meeting new people. It is, above all else, about pulling away from the weight of habit and rewriting your life better, whatever that might mean for you.
8. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from traveling?
That we’re all pretty much the same, no matter where you go. And people are generally good, with just a few jerks out there to spoil things for everyone.
9. As a seasoned adventurer, how have you seen the travel landscape change over the years?
It’s becoming a lot more personalized and accessible. It’s far easier now to get a custom experience — and one that is driven by locals for a given customer, rather than templated travel tours and the like — cheaper than ever. Which is good for locals, but also for those who wish to see the real city they’re visiting, rather than a whitewashed version propped up for tourists.
10. What’s next for you Colin?
I’m continuing to publish books, traveling as much as possible, and dabbling in other entertainment media. I’m also thinking about another road trip around the US.
Photos courtesy of Colin Wright.