Free Ride on Discovery Channel
On September 13th, 2015, I embarked on one of my wildest adventures yet. I left my house with the clothes on my body and a medium sized backpack with very basic gear knowing I wouldn’t be home for at least two and a half months. I had some food in my bag and $40 in my pocket as well but those would only serve me for the next 18 hours.
I was headed to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, a city and a country that I had never stepped foot in before. I had somewhat of a plan, to travel from Brazil to Panama but I didn’t know how I was going to manage it. That’s over 7,000 miles clear across the continent of South America through the vastly diverse countries of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and ultimately Panama. I sort of knew what awaited me but to be honest I really just wanted to get lost along the way. Scorching jungles, freezing mountains, blazing deserts, some of the harshest places on Earth sat between myself and my destination. I had 72 days to do all of this and enjoy it.
That distance in that amount of time would be a challenge in itself but the reason it was my wildest adventure yet is that upon landing I handed off the $32 I still had in my pocket (yes I really only spent $8 of the $40 I brought for the flight over), took my last bite of food, and started the adventure with no money. Zero cents, no backup credit or debit card, no accessing my funds at home, and no calling back to my friends or family for help. I had no cellphone, no computer, and in no way shape or form would access any of my funds back home. At the airport, I met up with James Levelle, the cameraman who’d be accompanying me to document the journey. This was after all going to air around the world on Discovery Channel and I needed help to share the adventure with the world.
I was well prepared (unless you consider having done little to no prior research ill prepared). I had my bivy sack, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat so I could sleep anywhere. I had my water purifier so I could drink from even unclean water sources. I had my cooking pot along with some flint and steel so I could cook in the wild or in an urban alley. And, of course, I had a toothbrush and toothpaste because I pretty much never leave home without them. The only electrical item I had was a little hand crank light which meant I could be completely off the grid for the whole journey.
I was ready to find myself in the most real of situations and prepared for the most sticky. I was seeking genuine people and the most authentic of experiences. I was prepared for survival and to test my skills of resourcefulness and ingenuity but really one of the greatest aspects of this adventure would be testing the kindness of others and my ability to accept their help. Would they help me in my mission to cross the continent with no money? Is the world full of generous and caring people? I think so and I want to share this with the world.
My partner James isn’t your typical camera guy. He is the real deal and he decided he was going to live out the entire adventure with me and help me to create a truly genuine TV show. That meant no money for him either. I’d done something like this twice before from Cabo to San Diego and Panama to San Diego but James had never left home without money so this was going to really put him to the test. He would have to learn from me how to travel with no money. But this also meant that I risked being seriously challenged by having someone along who might not have a clue how to live out the Free Ride philosophy. I wanted to show James, and through him, everyone behind the lens that money does not make the world go around. By traveling with no money I am forced to prove this to myself, him, and others.
I’m not going to tell you what happened after arriving in Brazil. Instead, I’ll just let you watch what happens. I will tell you that it was one of the most challenging and grueling adventures of my entire life. We’ve managed to make a truly authentic and genuine TV show that I’m proud to bring to you. By watching Free Ride you will be along for a wild adventure. You will learn tips on how to travel the world with little or no money. You will be introduced to places and people that you wouldn’t see or meet on an adventure that’s heavily funded. You will see the kindness of strangers. You will be introduced to wonderful people and new ways of thinking. And you will probably reflect on your own life!
Free Ride is 6 one hour episodes and airs on Discovery Channel around the world. It premieres in different countries from April to June of 2016.
100% of my fee from Free Ride was donated to nonprofits. Click here to see what nonprofits benefited from this show and how I use my work in TV to make the world a better place.
Thank you to everyone I met in South America who helped me along the way or was involved in any way! Thank you to all of my friends, family, and online supporters who’ve given me encouragement and support. Thank you to everyone at Raw TV and Discovery Channel who helped make Free Ride a reality. Thank you to all the journalists who’ve helped to spread my message. And thank you to everyone who’s a part of my life, big or small!