For most people, an escape from the monotony of work life means packing their bags and travellingfar away from everyday hustle-bustle. For Alex Chacón, who travels around the world for a living, it means being in his room, enjoying the view, ordering in some food and not having to leave the comfort of its four walls. The international traveller, adventure rider, lifestyle vlogger and inspirational speaker, with a huge social media following, was in Kochi on one such short break when we caught up with him.
Though this is his seventh trip to India, it is his first to Kerala (he was part of the Kerala Blog Express organised by Kerala Tourism). “Kerala is very different from the other parts of India,” says the traveller, impressed by the State’s literacy rates and sex ratio. On his list of favourites are the spicy fish curry and the ubiquitous parotta. “Earlier, the garlic naan was my favourite in all of India, but now I think it is the Kerala porotta,” he says. The unusual heat in the State has been difficult, but its people and the gorgeous backwaters have been the best, he gushes.
Miles to go American Alex Chacon has travelled to 70 countries on his bike
India holds a special place in his heart, says Alex, who started travelling in 2012. His first visit in 2013 wasa cultural shock and left him overwhelmed. Undeterred, he kept coming back.
“India is the only country I have been to more than two or three times.” At a gathering in Kochi last week, the 30 year old made a presentation of his first trip and the latest one before a young crowd, which he says reminded him of the simplicity of travel. “I had forgotten that until I returned to India. The people, their hospitality and love and care really make the destination.”
When he began, as a young medical student who sold everything he owned to fund his trips, his world view was narrow, and he found it difficult to pursue his dream. But after touring 70 countries on motorcycles in seven years, documenting his experiences and sharing them with the world, he finds that following his dream only gets easier. “I become more in love with the idea of travel. I appreciate it more now.” Alex shot to international fame in 2014 with his 360 Degree, a three-year epic selfie. Over five years the video has garnered over 14 million views and the adventurer has come a long way.
His journey has also given him opportunities to work with various organisations and governments to promote social causes and to inspire people to look at life differently. Through this he evolved from being a person who travelled for himself to a “servant for his audience”.
But he wouldn’t recommend his lifestyle to everyone, for every day on the road is a challenge. “When I leave home, I never really know when I am going to get back.” When he left home in the United States, he thought he’d get back in a month and a half. It’s been six months now, and Alex has more trips to do. But with his constant companions —his black backpack that has been with him for seven years and selfie-stick — he has literally pushed boundaries and found his happy place.
When he chose the path less travelled, he was ready for the many miles that stretched before him. While he accepts that it will come to an end some day, that moment is not now. For he has more places to go to.