Writer Wednesday – Meet Michael Huxley
Michael Huxley has been a top travel blogger for quite some time and has an extensive site full of great tips on how to backpack around the world. He’s quite the talented and busy man, not only is he traveling and blogging, but he’s found time to write a series of travel guide books and a work of fiction! What drew me to Mike was not his backpacking tips or great guide books – it was his strong views and passion for ethical travel, namely when concerning wildlife tourism. So, when I had the opportunity to interview him, I was thrilled to learn more about the man behind the great message!
Writer Wednesday would like to introduce you to Michael Huxley.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Michael Huxley and I am the founder of Bemused Backpacker. I am a published author with my own series of travel guidebooks under the Bemused Backpacker brand, and my first novel The Sphinx Legacy is out now. I have been backpacking around the world for a long time now and I have absolutely no intention of stopping. When I am not travelling or writing, I am also a qualified charge nurse with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine.
You are quite the advocate for ethical tourism when it comes to wildlife. What is your number one tip for being a responsible traveller?
Oh god, there are a few! I think what it all boils down to is being as aware of the issues as you can be. If you don’t know what you are doing is wrong or unethical, how can you know to change your behaviour? So be aware of the impact your decisions have and research as thoroughly as you can the places you are going to and supporting. If you know about the issues involved, you can make a fully informed ethical decision on what to do. Elephant trekking is a massive example of this, I have lost count of the amount of people who have said ‘I wish I had known’, and I count myself among that number. So before you travel do your research, make sure that any excursion, tour, activity or place of business you go on or see are as ethical as they say they are, make sure that they don’t exploit animals for tourists pleasure or profit, and if they do, don’t support them.
You’ve done a fair bit of volunteering abroad, what was your most rewarding experience?
It’s hard to choose just one. I think any stint where I have made the life of any animal better, even in the smallest possible way is the most rewarding. Animals really don’t have a voice, and they really do need us to be their advocates. Being able to do that is rewarding enough.
How many countries have you visited?
Around 50. Maybe more.
What is your favourite place and why?
I have a couple of favourite places for different reasons, but probably Singapore. I absolutely love that country, every time I go back there it feels like I am coming home. I have also practically lived there with the amount of time I have spent there over the last few years and I have a lot of very fond memories from the city.
If you could describe your method of travel in one word, what would it be?
What is your must have travel accessory?
Apart from my camera, my good old notebook and pen. (I’m an old fashioned writer, what can I say?)
What is your most memorable travel moment?
Really? With almost 15 years of travel under my belt it’s hard to pick just one! But the cat saving my life in Cairo ranks pretty highly!
What is your dream destination?
If we are talking what is on my bucket list (so to speak) right now, it would have to be Antarctica! I dream of joining an expedition to trek across the continent! Other than that anywhere tropical with a good beach, blue skies and a place that sells good mango juice will suit me just fine.
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, to where?
I have quite a few, for both work and pleasure. But I think in the near future I’ll be concentrating on Central America a bit more.
How has travel changed you?
Changed me? I’ve been travelling for so long I think it is more accurate to say it has shaped me. It has helped turn me into the man I am today. It has made me more confident, self confident, self assured, there are plenty of superlatives I can use. But probably more importantly it has made me humble. The places you see on your travels, the people you meet, the stories you come across, all of these make it impossible not to be. Travel has helped me recognise what is truly important in life, what is truly worth aiming for and fighting for. And it isn’t the money, the career or the fancy lifestyle so many people crave.
How long did it take for your first book to come to fruition?
My novel took years, decades even. I had the vague notion in my head since I was in college, probably earlier. And the plot went through years of early drafts, rewrites, entire plot changes even, before I had a semblance of what it eventually became. Part of that process was about me coming into my own as a writer, going from writing for fun – as a hobby – to writing something that I wanted to publish and make a career out of. Even then once I had decided to finish the book and publish it, it took me a couple of years to get it all down and refine it to the end product. My travel guide books were much quicker and easier in comparison.
Not only have you written a list of travel guides, along with your blog, and a novel – what do you prefer writing fact or fiction?
The honest truth is I enjoy both for different reasons. If I had to choose just one though it would probably be fiction. There’s something cathartic about creating a whole world to escape into.
Do you have any new books on the horizon?
A few actually. My novel needs a sequel after all! But I’m also writing a couple of new travel books for the Bemused Backpacker series too.
What is your favourite travel book?
Not strictly a travel book per se, but Wilbur Smiths River God series create such a vivid picture of Egypt and Africa it inspired some of the most powerful wanderlust I have ever felt.
What is your favourite travel quote?
You have to stick to the classics here, good old Mark Twain.
‘Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’