Old World Wandering is a story told in parts. It is not a collection of tips, advice or point-form wisdom but, if pressed, Claire and I might offer one suggestion: if you want to travel, buy a world map and hang, stick or paste it to your wall. We did exactly that seven years ago, in London, and it worked – almost too well.

London is a rite of passage for many South Africans: we go after finishing school or university, spend a year or two working, branch out to France or Spain, Amsterdam or Prague, and return home with pockets full of pounds. That at least is the formula, but a year after leaving Cape Town Claire and I felt stuck. London was sucking up every penny we earned, scuppering our nebulous travel plans.

Then, on a day like any other, we bought a map. It sat on our wall, staring blankly at us, until I traced a vague line across it. “We could get all the way there, by land,” I said to Claire, and pointed to a dot on the east coast of China called Shanghai. It was intimidating, but also exhilarating. The map had come alive. We agreed to try, and that was it: with a vague outline in place, plans formed around it. Better jobs were found, money was saved and, with the first four months of our route carefully mapped out, we left England for a journey overland, to Shanghai.

It took us a year and a half to reach China. We made it through Europe on schedule, but dawdled through the Middle East. Then India swallowed us up. Shanghai almost swallowed us too, and we spent three years in the city, making a life. But our journey had filled us with inklings of other lives, in other places. We wanted to live in South Africa again, as adults, and we decided to make our way home to Cape Town, overland.

We’re still on our way home now, after 18 months on the road. By the time we get there, we’ll have covered close to 100,000 kilometres by train, bus, boat and foot, which is roughly equivalent to going seven times around the earth. I was staggered by the number, when I sat down to calculate it, tracing our routes like I had in London, on a map.



Claire and I in India, China, Switzerland and Thailand

9 Responses to “About”

  1. Andy says:

    yeah, I like to read the article claire wrote, because she has pretty eyes, rose cheek when she drink al little.

  2. Jen Poet says:

    Inspiring! Bold step! Safe travels!!!

  3. James says:

    Dear Iain and Claire,

    I’d just like to say a big thank you for taking the time and effort to put this together on the road. Your travel writing is just the kind that I aspire to write – intensely descriptive, honest, and deeply thought-provoking narratives; each one breathing with history and culture, and the voices of the people you met along the way.

    It’s a real inspiration for fledgling travellers like myself. I’ve just started saving up for a big trip – in a few years I hope to spend at least six months retracing the Cinnamon Route from the Spice Islands of Indonesia to the coast of East Africa, down to Mozambique. I would love to see your writing and photography presented in a coffee table book someday!

    • Hi James,

      Thank you for your kind words. We can't imagine travelling without writing about our experiences – the two go hand in hand for us. We haven't got a coffee table book planned, as such, but we are hoping to put together a limited edition hardback book in connection with the Kickstarter project we just launched – http://kck.st/MYNUmp. It's probably the closest you'll get to an Old World Wandering coffee table book- at least in the next few years!

  4. Joy says:

    I'm so glad i stumbled on this labour of love.

    I was coming to the point of hating travel blogs because of their mundane "Top 10…","Most Beautiful…", "Must Do…" lists. Yikes !!!

    I found me connecting a lot to your travel philosophy, and it does help that you guys wield a damn good pen.

    Keep writing ,keep travelling, keep inspiring.

    I still have a lot of unread posts, so let me get to it. :)

  5. Bomit says:

    Thanks for your sharing.I enjoyed your video. Have a nice day. :)

  6. Great article! I’ve recently decided to spend 5 months next year travelling around the world. You’re so right about the fact that in most cases we could afford to do such a thing if we make that a priority rather than blowing cash on things that yield no return or substantial impact. I made my decision 2 weeks ago and already “found” $2000 to save toward my trip.

  7. Vanessa says:

    Hi Claire and Iain,

    I came across your blog through James (notesplusultra.com) and I am glad I discovered your blog.

    I travelled all my life and I started travelling on my own when I was seventeen, but just started my own travel blog a year ago. Your blog is really an inspiration as well as your video is.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. travelwithoutborders says:

    Hi Claire and Iain,

    I couldnt help to thank you for setting up such an inspiring blog! Love it!

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