I met Martin Miles at the Victoria Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. Martin is amiable, but he takes a while to warm up to people. He’s willing to open up if someone approaches him first, but he doesn’t often initiate interactions straight away. He likes to sit back, observe and learn before inserting himself into a conversation with new people. But once he’s comfortable, he’ll surely come in with a witty remark or good-natured banter.
As he eases into a friendship, you’re rewarded with good conversation, puns and tongue-in-cheek humor. I often tell him that he’ll be a great dad one day, because he’s already got the jokes for it. And he makes himself laugh, possibly more than anyone else.
But it’s because he is happy with who he is and comfortable being himself. Martin is confident, but not cocky. He’s also serious. Martin is thoughtful, diligent and pragmatic. I guess the best way to sum it up is that Martin is balanced.
Martin is: jocular, industrious, content
Martin, 26, was born in Dorchester, England 6 weeks premature along with his twin sister, Katherine. He is 12 minutes younger. Martin also has a younger brother, Phillip, and sister, Nicola.
His first word was duck, which he knows, because his mother filled out a book detailing different firsts for Martin as he grew up. Martin said he played with a rubber duck in the bath a lot, so perhaps that’s why it was his first word.
Martin and his siblings were raised in Blandford Forum. He said he took his family for granted when he was younger. But as he has grown older, he has grown closer to his parents, Ian and Karen, and his siblings. And Martin said he has been able to get a better understanding of how his family has supported him. “I appreciate them more now,” he said.
Martin said he was a pretty average kid, but he did have trouble with bullying at school. He had a few close friends growing up, but he didn’t really connect with the other school kids. “School wasn’t the easiest,” Martin said. “I would probably say that was the only thing that wasn’t normal about my childhood. Or maybe it’s more normal than I think it is.”
He described himself as an easy target; he was always small, and he usually just ignored the bullies. But one day, Martin reached his breaking point when another boy made fun of him, and he just kept swinging and chasing after the boy. He landed a few punches, but he also ended up hitting a wall in his blind fury, not registering the pain for about an hour, because his body was coursing with adrenaline. “He never made fun of me again, which I suppose is a good thing,” Martin said.
Because of his troubles with bullies, Martin said he really valued the friends he had. “I didn’t have a lot of friends, but the few that I did have were good friends,” he said. He is still good friends with them now, even though he doesn’t see them regularly while he is traveling.
Martin’s first traveling experiences were with his family on holidays in the United Kingdom. They often journeyed to places with opportunities for outdoor activities. He also traveled to the Canary Islands, Turkey and Egypt with his family.
But he began traveling more extensively while he was at university in Wales, which was the first time he moved away from home. Martin said it was a daunting transition. “I cried my eyes out when I said goodbye to Mum,” he said.
Once he got settled into university, though, he became more interested in traveling and exploring the world. “Seeing people from different backgrounds at university just opened my mind a bit more,” he said. He traveled to France, Iceland, Italy, Ireland and Bulgaria during his uni years.
Martin started his current trip in June 2014, heading first to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup and to visit a friend from university. Then he traveled to Peru, Los Angeles and Fiji before arriving in Australia. He lived and worked in Australia for just over a year, and then took an epic road trip (with Adam and Felix) across South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Not one to stay in place for too long, Martin then enjoyed a few months of traveling around Southeast Asia, visiting Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. He then traveled around New Zealand before returning to live and work again in Melbourne.
Martin said he travels to experience the differences available in the world and broaden his mind by seeing what else is out there. And he wants to explore the world more to consider possible places for settling down. “I like England, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t like another place more,” he said.
But he’s confident that wherever he ends up he’ll be able to make the most of it. “It’s less on the place I live, and more the people I’m with that will dictate if I’m happy there,” he said. “Home is where you make it.”
He doesn’t plan to stop traveling any time soon, hoping to see as much of the world as possible. He said that the more he travels, the more he realizes how much more of the world he wants to see. “I’m always going to continue exploring and seeing what else is out there, definitely,” he said.
Martin said he is initially drawn to a destination by its natural beauties, but is it the people he meets who make the experience, good or bad. As such, people are the best and worst part of traveling. “You do meet some absolutely awful people while traveling,” he said, “but you do meet some amazing ones as well.”
He said fellow travelers also offer a wealth of knowledge about what to see next in the world. You don’t have to spend a lot of time researching a destination via the Internet or travel books, but just go to a place and ask other people who are there what’s worth seeing. Martin said that is the best way to find hidden treasures and to help decide which country to visit next.
And though meeting people and sharing experiences enriches traveling, Martin has learned that he is comfortable to travel solo when he needs to. “I’m probably more independent than I realized,” he said. “I’ve realized that there is a lot of stuff that I can do by myself. I don’t need other people to do it with.”
He said traveling has also helped him learn more about what interests him and what he can do without. He is pleased with his decision to travel and wouldn’t change anything. “I don’t regret any of my decisions really,” Martin said. “I’m here where I am, and I’m happy where I am. I’m not a millionaire, but nor am I stuck in the middle of nowhere not doing anything.”
Martin’s life philosophy, which he credits his parents with teaching him, is to find balance between going after your passions and making enough money to do what you love. “It’s much better to have a job that you love and it doesn’t make you a lot of money than a job that you hate and making a lot of money,” he said.
He said that people should not be afraid to travel, but should step out of their comfort zone and explore new places and try new things. And like-minded people can be found all over the world, so even if you travel alone, you’ll be able to make friends and develop rich relationships. “You’ve just got to do it,” Martin said. “The only way you’re going to get over that hurdle is to go and do it.”
Martin said he can’t recommend traveling enough to people. “Traveling in general is just amazing,” he said. “Just get out there and see what’s out there.”
Finally, Martin describes himself in three words: I’m just me.