Born in Epsom, England, Cole has had many escapades over the course of his life, ranging from hitch hiking in New Zealand to skiing in the Swiss Alps. Apart from his travels, Cole does a lot of charity work and runs his own YouTube channel, which at the moment has over 1 million subscribers. one8one had the opportunity to speak with Louis and get to know him better.
When you go to a new place, do you have a planned itinerary, or do you take your adventures as they come?
A bit of both. I think it’s good to have some structure but it also helps to have some flexible plans since it is nice to start the day without knowing what you’ll end up doing. When I’m over-planned, it takes away the potential for spontaneity and that’s not really my style. I can’t do more than a week of planning when it comes to travelling because then it is too much, you know—some days you just need to chill or you might be driving along spots you really like and want to check out but you are stuck to a deadline. If I have had a super busy week, I balance it out by having time with no plans. Starting to take the day off has been more helpful, especially when I’m doing a lot of different things. If I have had a packed week, I might just want to sleep for a whole day after but I also might want to have a free day and end up doing something quite fun but it happens randomly. I like creating space for spontaneity.
Being a vlogger and a traveller, what are the challenges you face the most?
With travelling and vlogging, it is the time zone time differences with upload times. Also the lack of Internet in more rural and remote locations are some of the issues that I have faced in the past.
What are your travel essentials apart from the technology needed?
Apart from technology, I travel pretty light. Nothing really—as long as I have my bank card and passport, I’m good to go.
Do you think there will ever come a point in your life where you will stop travelling?
I don’t think I will ever stop travelling. Perhaps I would travel less frequently or maybe just have a few places that I travel between. I can definitely see myself travelling every few months as compared to every few weeks. Potentially, the thing that can stop me from travelling all the time is if I have a couple of bases, a family at some stage or some projects that would need me to be more available in one place. But I think I’ll always want to migrate away from cold weather for my whole life.
How do you get friendly with the locals? Any tips?
I try to be friendly—that’s my approach. Some places do not like the fact that I can’t speak the local languages but I think you can get around that by simply smiling. In terms of getting friendly and being a part of their life, I think that you have got to be aware that you don’t want to go into a situation or a new place and feel entitled to things or feel like you know a better way of doing it than them.
It can be frustrating in cultures where you are just not used to, for instance, how slow they might be doing things, but I guess you have to keep an open mind and realise that you are stepping into a different culture where things happen differently. I think that you shouldn’t be too precious about the way you are doing things.
In terms of making friends with locals or building connections and relationships with them, I have found it to be a lot easier in English-speaking countries. I think I always do make connections when I go to places but I guess the longer you stay somewhere, the longer you get the chance to make connections and friends. But because of my lack of ability to speak different languages, I am obviously going to connect with people in, say, America, Canada or South Africa. Language is always the best connecting tool.
What inspired you to start travelling?
I think it has always been in me. I don’t think there was ever one moment where I was like, “Oh wow, I think I am going to start travelling.” I feel like it was inevitable.
But probably, growing up, it was my parents’ attitude and my love for watching wildlife documentaries from around the world. I remember some of the family holidays definitely started to get more adventurous. When I was 14, we headed to South East Asia, and I saw how different life is there. I guess that probably triggered my thinking process of, “Yeah, I am definitely going explore the world.”
Over the course of your life, you have chosen to live in a homeless shelter, lived in a minibus, taken in and made friends with homeless people and now you travel all over the world with one million followers. Looking back, what are your thoughts?
All of those things are a quite different aren’t they? I think you shouldn’t be close-minded to how you behave or live. One day you can be homeless and the next day you could be doing something else. I feel like sometimes people are like, “Oh no that’s not me, I couldn’t do that.” I just think that life is this big spectrum of what you do. At one end it’s luxury or a privileged place and then at the other end you have no money or you’re homeless and I like being able to always travel across that spectrum. Sometimes I might be hitchhiking in New Zealand like I did recently, or camping or whatever, and other times being privileged to stay in really nice place with a good vibe. But I think that sometimes people pigeonhole themselves like they’re this particular type of person, or they might be more high maintenance and I think that it’s good to continually challenge your comfort zone and not let labels define you.
You’re a motivator for a lot of people. What advice do you have for people who are scared to kick start their dreams?
There’s nothing to lose. If there is a fear there, just start small and take little steps. You could also find a friend who can do it with you. But if we are just talking about dreams in general, I guess you never want to be that person who has never pursued their dream, since you will regret what you didn’t do. I know it’s a cheesy quote but you are always going to regret things that you didn’t do and you don’t want to let fear control you or hold you back.
My mum once said a really good quote, when we went horse riding and she was scared of riding but she did it anyway. She said, “It’s not about overcoming the fear, it’s about doing it even if you are scared.” Now, even though she did ride the horse, she still found it scary but it was about doing it despite the fear.
Life is scary sometimes, and I know that this may sound weird but I now actually enjoy being a bit scared of things because I like that feeling of pushing myself out my comfort zone.