Today's Explorers

Wes (Travaland)

November 23, 2021
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

Vancouver Island, Canada

When did you start your interest in exploration?

As a kid, exploring with my Dad in his Landcruiser.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

Adventure has always been a great part of my life. As a kid there was lots of off-roading, fishing trips and road trips. When you come from a family of aviators, adventure seekers and explorers, it’s natural to carry on that legacy.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

I’m a certified, automotive mechanic, have a background in Marine Navigation, and have spent enough time on the road to be good at planning extensive trips.

Where have you explored so far?

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and North West Territories.

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

A lot of back roads driving, taking the long way around and going out of my way to see something new between destinations. My biggest trip so far was to Tuktoyaktuk. I’m calling it the first leg of my trip to Argentina.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

  1. Bella Coola, British Columbia. The history and richness of the area it’s incredible. True explorers and pioneers cut the road in and it has to be one of the most scenic places in Canada.
  1. Baja Mexico. My dad has told me about trips he made out there as a kid with his dad. Being from Canada I’ve never really experienced the constant warmth and heat of a dry arid climate. There’s something so beautiful about Baja as well.

  2. Argentina, Patagonia, South America. When I was in my early 20’s, I ran into a blog called “Landcruising adventure”. They were one of the first really inspiring blogs of people living on the road and exploring the way I had always dreamed of. At the time they were in South America and the stories and pictures became a vision for me to just go.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Canada! This place is the overlanders' dream. We take camping really seriously here, and you’d never have to worry about being bored with adventure.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

2019 Ford transit van. Top three mods are an interior to live out of, a really good set of tires, And a tire rack for the rear door. Future mods include a lift kit and a better roof rack.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

Shovel, axe, tow straps, tire chains, jerry cans

What inspires you to explore more?

So many things. Where do I start? My incredible sense of wanderlust, the need to see something new, and the almost spiritual experience one feels when the view of a vast landscape is before you.

How do you engage with others?

Ask questions! Wherever I’m exploring I always find locals to tell me about the place. This has turned into getting a walking tour in a very small town with interesting history, to being invited to an Inuit wedding in the Arctic. Be friendly, be kind, it’s that simple.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

Every culture experiences life differently and views the world through different lenses. A brief snapshot into what they are experiencing can change your perspective as a human and thus create in your heart a greater love for people everywhere. I believe a true explorer should come back from every trip a changed human.

What are your goals when you explore?

  • To see, to listen, and to challenge myself.
  • To see nature, people and watch culture. To see how humans have carved out an existence in the areas I’ve travelled.
  • To listen is to sit down and hear the local perspective, to hear the history, and from the older folk especially, to hear how things have changed.
  • To Challenge myself is to allow each place to continue to shape and encourage me to continue to be a better human.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

Finances truthfully have been a problem, and not being distracted by lesser dreams that don’t fit in with the bigger picture of what I want my life to look like.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

Standing on the banks of the Mackenzie River, talking with the locals and learning how to say a bunch of the local names, and even between the different dialects.

How has exploration changed you?

It has changed my perspective on people. Humans are incredibly kind everywhere you go, especially if you’re bringing kindness into your interactions.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

Don’t worry about trying to look the part. You don’t have to have a fully decked out Toyota Landcruiser overland vehicle to go to Tuktoyaktuk, take what you have and go.

How do you explore locally?

Exploring locally is like going to the climbing gym down the road. Each mini adventure prepares you for the bigger ones, and offers you a shake down on your equipment. So when I explore locally, I intentionally find the limits of my vehicle, my equipment and myself. It’s much easier to know when you're close to known people and services, then running into issues on a backroads trip in the middle of nowhere.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

It means more than just adventures. You can plug it into regular life itself. We should be inspired to bring positive change to the people and life happening around us. Even if it’s just your neighbour

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Just Go! If you want to travel across a continent, sometimes it starts with going to the lake. Every little thing prepares you for the bigger thing. Don’t get depressed if you can’t make your big dream happen tomorrow, just remember “what can I do today, even if it’s a small thing, to get me to where I want to be in the future”.

What are some comparisons you can make between exploration today, compared to what you know of exploration in the past?

It still requires the same amount of preparation and planning, and in many places, the roads are still barely developed. Even in Canada.

What did you think of the book Strangers Like Angels — With a Devil or Two to Boot by Alec and Jan Forman?

I’ve read it and listened to the audio book over and over. It’s like Grandma and Grandpa telling you a bed time story and is best listened or read with a cup of earl grey, next to a warm wood stove.


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Today's explorers

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