The idea of making a living as a world traveler is not new at all, and the fact that today we can make that choice easily is probably due to the road paved by those travelers who came way before us. Technology, connectivity and globalization have made the world a small place compared to the vast land that it once was before explorer set out and unearth every corner of the planet.
We travelers today owe a lot to these brave men and women who stretched the boundaries of what seemed possible and broke the limits going where others wouldn’t dare.
Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis and his friend, William Clark were commissioned to cross the Western United States by Thomas Jefferson himself right after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Their journey lasted for over two years with the purpose of exploring and mapping the newly acquired territory, finding a practical route across the western half of the continent, and establishing an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it. Lewis and Clark were scientists so it made sense that the secondary mission of the campaign was to study the geography, fauna and flora of the new territories, to establish trading relations with the natives and to document all of their findings for further studies. During the journey, Lewis and Clark drew about 140 maps, gaining great understanding of the geography of the Northwest portion of the United States of America.
Magellan was the Portuguese explorer in charge of the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Magellan was chosen by King Charles I to find a westward route to the Maluku Islands. Commanding a fleet comprised of five vessels, Magellan surrounded America due south near Patagonia and crossed the Pacific (which he named the “peaceful sea”) and eventually across the Indian Sea and surrounding Cape of Good Hope to complete its circuit around the world. Magellan’s crew observed several animals that were entirely new to European science, including guanaco, llamas, vicuñas and penguins. The Magellanic penguin is named after him, as he was the first European to note it.
Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Many articles could be written on this man alone, a person who truly made the most out of traveling the world and explored even the darkest corners of the globe. His journeys inspired many of his greatest stories. He was a fisherman, hunter, soldier, and ardent drinker who lived in Paris, Cuba, and Spain. Hemingway was born at a time when most Americans didn’t travel, let alone go on multiple safaris in Africa. These safaris served as the inspiration for his novels and short stories-Green Hills of Africa and The Snows of Kilimanjaro and other Stories. He grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Marco was a Venetian merchant traveller who recorded his wanderings in Livres des merveilles du monde (Book of the Marvels of the World, or The Travels of Marco Polo), a book that introduced Europeans to Central Asia and China. Marco Polo traveled alongside his father and uncle through Asia where they had previously met the Khan of Khans, Kublai. After 24 years of traveling, the trio returned to Venice only to find it at war with Genoa. While fighting against the Genoans, Marco was captured and imprisoned. It was during this imprisonment that Marco Polo dictated his adventures to fellow inmate, Rustichello da Pisa who annotated everything and adding a few stories of his own, completed the manuscript known as The Travels of Marco Polo.
Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman also known by her pen name Nellie Bly was an American journalist, writer, industrialist, inventor, charity worker and traveler who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days. She was inspired by of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 days. Nellie was the ultimate minimalist traveler undertaking a 25,000 mile adventure with nothing but the dress on her back, a heavy coat, a few pairs of underwear, and a small bag carrying her toiletries. Her record was broken just a few months later, but regardless of that, her accomplishment was amazing because the fact that a woman was able to traverse the globe nearly un-chaperoned, an unheard of accomplishment at the time. Nellie also changed the world of journalism with her exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. The book is called Ten Days in a Mad-House.
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