Tripper of the Week: Dave Dean

Originally from New Zealand, Dave Dean has been an avid traveler for the last 15 years, visiting over 40 countries and living in a few. He's a blogger, an expat and a very cool Tripper -meet our Tripper of the Week.....

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ok, well, my name is Dave Dean, I'm 36 and I've been travelling on and off now for nearly 15 years. After finishing university I packed my backpack and headed to the other side of the globe ... unfortunately the travel bug bit me extremely hard and I haven't quite figured out how to stop moving yet! Up until now I have mixed periods of travel around the world with periods of working in a technology-related field wherever 'home' is, but as of a few weeks ago I am trying to make a living from the road full time.

How do you think being from New Zealand affects your world view?

I think it affects me a lot, in both obvious and less-obvious ways. Being from a small town in a small country at the bottom of the world, the desire to get out and see what the rest of the planet had to offer was something that was ingrained in me from a young age. It's pretty much an expectation that New Zealanders will spend a year or two travelling in their early twenties. Looks like I took that concept a little too far...

It also affects me in other ways - things like seeing policemen or security staff with firearms was very disconcerting at first, for instance, as guns are strictly controlled and almost never seen in New Zealand outside private farms. We tend to be a pretty trusting bunch as well, which has actually served me a lot better than you might think while travelling. Trust is usually good thing on the road, just within sensible boundaries. :)

Did you jump right in to long-term travel or did you start with shorter journeys?

Well that depends a bit on the definition of travel - my first overseas trip as an adult was a move to London, where I then lived for 3 years and spent every vacation, long weekend etc in Europe. I even managed to fit six weeks in Africa into the mix! Generally though the trips were shorter up until a few years ago, when I started striking out for several months at a time. I've just started a new trip and have no return date in mind, but i'll be at least a year.

What inspired your first solo trip? And at what point were you hopelessly hooked on travel?

My first truly solo long term trip didn't come until a couple of years ago, believe it or not - everything before that was done with friends or girlfriends. I knew that I wanted to hit the road for an extended period (it turned out to be six months) and also knew that there was no way I'd be able to convince other people to come with me for anything like that length of time so just decided to head out and do it myself. I think I realised how hooked on travel I was within a couple of years of starting - after a pretty tough slog through eastern Africa where I was sick much of the time, all I wanted was a hot shower and a clean bed. And yet, within days of finishing that trip and getting exactly what I'd been looking forward to, I was back researching flights and travel options again. I'm a hopeless case :)

You ran a half marathon in a dress earlier this year. What was that all about?

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Oh that was really fun! Basically I met Chantelle, one half of, at an amazing conference I went to in the US in June. After a few drinks she managed to convince me that it would be a great idea to run a half marathon dressed in a girl's school uniform to raise awareness and funds for the work they do providing educational scholarships for girls in Sierra Leone. The 'Do it in a Dress' campaign was born, and after a lot of promotional photo and video shoots, newspaper articles and fundraising I ran 21km in that school uniform last month. I looked like an idiot, raised much more money than I expected and generally had a fantastic time. As I write this the campaign is just a few hundred dollars from hitting its target, which is pretty amazing for a first time effort pulled together in just a few months.

Of all the places you've been to, which one you would never go back, and which one are you planning on going back?

There really aren't many places at all that I'd never go back to, although there might be a few that I wouldn't necessarily pay to do so. ;-) Nairobi (in Kenya) was a pretty scary place, so I think if I have to choose one place not to return to that would be it. Funnily enough the one place that would love to go back to is also in Africa - Malawai was an amazing country and I intend to spend more time there within the next year or two.

What culture fascinated you the most? Why?

Good question. I find so many cultures fascinating, and for different reasons. One that has stuck with me in recent years has been the Cambodian culture - it is a challenging, struggling, wonderful country, and the sense of serenity, hope and ambition from people that have been through so much in the last three decades has left an indelible mark on me. I'll be back there without a doubt.

Connect with Dave via his Tripper profile and follow his adventures via his blog, What's Dave Doing?