The following is an excerpt from James Asquith’s book, Breaking Borders: Travels in Pursuit of an Impossible Record.
There is a saying that I heard many years ago and not only did it stick with me, but it evolved my way of thinking; “The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have”. We all need an escape, and this became not only an escape, but my way of life. This was not just about the desire to see the world, it was the need for escapism, a very real adrenaline of danger, loneliness and solitude which were all emotions that were mine to cherish and adapt around.
So it’s the 17th July 2013 and there I am stood in front of the very last border crossing, the final frontier for lack of a better expression. ‘Welcome to Micronesia’ – a rather obscure patch of sand in the depths of the mid-Pacific, and I felt nothing. No grandiose feelings of something I had strived to achieve over the last five years, no relief, and certainly not the very real realisation the most significant part of my life had come to its objectified end. Anyone that tells you they are as happy and free as they can ever be whilst travelling the farthest corners of the globe solo are lying and without even realising it, to themselves.
Travelling can be lonely and it really is a learning experience and an escapism reflex, as it was for me. I was certainly happy, but not in the most contented place I could imagine. For anyone that has ever travelled solo and sat for that quiet moment by themselves on that deserted beach or perched cliff edge, can you honestly say there was not a part of you thinking ‘I’m happy, but I want to share this with those people important to me’? My best memories are the ones shared, and the loneliest memories I will cherish as my own, and with that comes profound and unexplainable human emotions that were the very reason I embarked on doing something different. Something that was mine to keep forever, but worthless without the people that were there with me, both in person and mentally.
I have looked out across every ocean, climbed mountains, trekked deserts, begged for my life, experienced the fall of dictators, but most importantly I have met some of the most incredible people who have made me smile, laugh and even cry. Many of their names were never known to me, but the most important part of my journey across the world was the people. Some of them I may never see again and some are not a part of my life anymore, but the influence was insightful, and without sharing these memories throughout my experience, it would have seemed almost worthless.
James Asquith is the founder and CEO of Holiday Swap. He is the current Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to travel every country in the world before the age of 25. To purchase the book, Breaking Borders: Travels in Pursuit of an Impossible Record, click here.