Exclusive Interview with one of the most inspiring travellers around the world, Francis Tapon.
“Companies were paying me $200,000 per year in the early 2000s. That was good money. However, I lived like a student. I took a bike or train to work, I lived with my parents or rented out a room for $600 per month, I rarely went out to restaurants or spent money.” says Francis Tapon the author of two books ‘Hike Your Own Hike‘ and ‘The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us‘.
Francis is an inspiration to many young students and adults around the world. At the age of 46, he has already visited more than 100 countries and has also graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the world (Harvard Business School). “A Harvard MBA is arguably the most flexible diploma you get, since it is globally recognised and business/economics touches nearly every endeavour” he says.
Was travelling the world and being an author something that he always knew he wanted to do? “Life often takes unexpected turns”. Tapon wanted to make sure that he had the best education and degree for his future. After working for 4 years at a robotic vision startup company, he discovered that his real passion was writing and travelling the world, therefore he decided to take a “risk” and step out of the “comfort zone”. He left his well-paid job in the startup company and became a full-time traveller and writer.
Tapon also has some experience in writing journalism. According to him, in order for young students to succeed as journalists after they graduate, having a blog is an essential thing; it is a must.
“I highly recommend it for several reasons. It’s a great practice, by promising to write one article every Tuesday, for example, you get into the rhythm of writing. It teaches you discipline. Some writers think they have to be inspired to write. Bullshit. It’s a job. Whether you have a degree or not, the best way to break into journalism is to write one article per week for your own personal blog, write for easy-to-write websites like the HuffingtonPost.com as you build articles, start querying B-list and A-list publications, be persistent. Your blog will train you for that. It also lets you learn about writing good headlines and seeing what works.”
After visiting all the countries in Central America, all the eastern European countries and almost all the countries in South America, currently Francis is traveling in the South African continent. He works on a project called “The unseen Africa” where he aims is to visit all of the 54 countries in the African continent for 5 years to film a documentary and eventually publish a book as well.
When asked about the confidence and courage to take such a big step and travel for 5 years in a row, as well as leaving his home and well-paid job behind, his answer was: “I have the confidence that everything will be all right no matter what. Part of that confidence comes from having a strong education background. A Harvard MBA is a great insurance policy. I know that if all hell breaks loose, I can always call my alumni network and find a job somewhere. It’s a strong network.”
As part of his trip in Africa, Francis experienced some scary and unpleasant events, along to one of the most beautiful things that happened to him during this trip. He met the love of his life, Rejoice Binta Abbas. The two met in Cameroon and got married in Zambia on the 10th of March 2016. “My car broke down in Niger’s Tenere Desert, which is in the middle of the Sahara. It was hot. The risk of being captured by terrorists was there. I was stuck for 2 days, but the military towed me 300 km and had 8 armed me protecting me. Somewhat scary.” says Francis about the most unpleasant moment of his trip in Africa.
The most beautiful and good thing he adds, “was finding my wife in Cameroon and marrying her in Zambia.”
When asked about his future plans, goals and dreams, Tapon mentioned that his next plan is to visit the West/Central Asian countries. “It’s my Into Islam trip, which I hope to finish by 2022. I plan to go from Pakistan to Israel—through 25 West/Central Asian countries. (Yes, Israel is in Western Asia.)” Francis also plans to write a book about every continent and country that he will visit in the future. After the Middle East Trip, Francis aims to visit Asia, travel to all the countries in the Pacific Ocean and at the end he wants to visit South America around 2026. you can read more about Francis and his plans Here.
Tapon is the best example of how nothing is impossible, he is the kind of person who young people can look at and be influenced and inspired. We should all dare and take “risks” in life, because if we never try we will never know.
When asked for advice for the students of Greenwich, Tapon said “You’re successful whenever you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. If you’re goal is to be an awesome mother, and you are, then you’re a success. Pick doable goals and you’ll easily be a success! Each time you achieve your goal, then feel free to increase the difficulty. Young people should study those who live lives that they admire—and copy them. Too often, youth reinvents the wheel. A common mistake youth makes is that they lack focus. Put your eggs in one basket: focus, focus, focus.” He addresses an optimistic message to young people “Hike Your Own Hike! Life is too important to take seriously. “