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Transient Ian Wright navigates the waters in Polynesia while wearing a jaunty hat.
courtesy Pilot Film and Television Productions

From the North Pole to Antarctica

Globe trekker Ian Wright on getting paid to travel

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Rafting down a river in Guyana, running from lava on a mountain in Vanuatu and cutting the day short because your boss has been bitten by a monkey are situations the majority of us will never experience, let alone get paid for.

On the other hand, Ian Wright has been getting paid to travel for 13 years as host of the show Globe Trekkers. Wright has been with the show since it's inception and is the longest running host.

In the beginning, Wright would travel for more than eight months a year. Now he's married and lives in London. He's scaled back to two shows a year and concentrates instead on successfulspeaking tours, talking about his adventures.

"When you travel you always think, oh man, wouldn't it be brilliant?" said Wright. "How can I travel and work at the same time? Get paid for it? But, there's never anything. This kind of job doesn't even come into your psyche. You don't even think about it, it's so ludicrous. This has

to be the best job in the world, really."

For hopefuls, Wright said anything is worth a try, but admits he fell into his current position almost by mistake.

"Me and my mates were making stupid little videos of ourselves doing stuff," Wright said. "Enter the Dragon From Behind was our big feature film, just a piss-tank ninja/gangster thing. The whole thing was a joke, and then there was an advert in the paper and I thought it would be a good excuse to make another little video around London, and I sent it in. I'd had no aspirations whatsoever of being on telly."

Globe Trekkers, produced by Pilot Guides, was originally called Lonely Planet, but the popular guide book company took back their name

after deciding to produce their own shows.

Despite his lucky break, Wright noted the travelling life isn't for everyone.

"Traveling's like anything on earth," said Wright. "Some people have a craving for it and some people don't. I remember I was in the pyramids and I rang a friend up, who lives in the countryside in England. She said in all honesty she would rather be at home, and that's brilliant as well. Because she knows herself and she's like, 'Yeah, no, I just love it here. I haven't got any aspirations of travelling all over.' And that's just as valid as if she'd traveled the world over 300 times."

Wright has always been an adventurous spirit. As a kid Wright said he was a "pain in the ass," often getting other people into trouble.

Wright still loves to take his sketchbook with him on the road and described his choice to go to art school as a natural progression, something he just wanted to do.

Before getting hired by Globe Trekkers, Wright worked at a community center doing art with kids, as a bike courier and at a market selling homemade crafts and mint jelly.

"Before the show started I used to hitchhike with friends," explained Wright. "We used to go around Europe and stuff. We hitched to Poland one summer. The summer after that we hitched to Romania and just went all around Europe. Those were the first trips I did when I left school."

Wright explained how easy it is to travel: grab a pack two hours before you have to go, the smaller the better. All you need is two changes of clothes, a passport and some money, the hard part is just doing it. Just buy the ticket, you can

think about it on the plane, he said.

Wright has travelled all over the globe but says his favourite places are Mongolia, anywhere above the arctic circle and Greenland.

"Its nice being away from people," he said. "It has a real 'final frontier' feel to it. The people there are quite versatile, jacks-of-all-trades; there is just less bull shit there. It's refreshing. As well as the landscape, it's nice to stretch your eyes without too many concrete lumps in the way, and also you see such vast skies. It's like soul food."

Wright doesn't look for comfort when he travels, and insists that being open to opportunities is the best way to experience any place.

"Everyone's the same around the world, everybody loves a fart joke," he said. "Humour cuts through so much and, I think, always be aware that you're in such an absurdly privileged position if you can afford to even get on an

airplane. It's a luxury at the end of the day."


Wright will be speaking in MacEwan Hall

Thur., Oct., 16. Tickets are $18 and are available at Ticketmaster, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Trek Escapes.

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