Growing up with severe social anxiety and a fear of the unknown kept Logan Saunders confined to the basement, glued to video games and reality TV.
Underneath the seemingly shy exterior, Saunders, like many kids, was bursting with an overwhelming desire to see the world.
So at just 27 years old, he broke free from his dark, yet comfortable, confines and set out on a bold adventure to travel the world in 180 days.
“As we get older, especially going through adolescence and early adulthood, we let the negative experiences and the constant reminders of dangers lurking to discourage us from seeking adventure,” said Saunders, an Ellison Elementary and Clarence Fulton grad with a degree in creative writing from UBCO. “Lots of people fear even walking around downtown Vernon because of the constant negative attention around us. Unless you’re going to a fancy resort as a couple or going with a group, solo traveling is a no-no. A disease will get us, third world countries are far more dangerous than Vernon, you’ll get kidnapped, arrested, or drown in the ocean. Plus those language barriers! How will you get by?”
And he gets it.
“Prior to three years ago, I could talk myself out of doing anything. I didn’t bother to ‘attempt’ learning how to ride a bike. I once spent Christmas dinner either staying outside or eating dinner in a car because of the congestion of people was way too much for me. I didn’t like going out to restaurants or any public places where I might encounter people I know because I was absolutely terrified of the idea of having people watch me eat. I refused to do anything involving heights because I nearly fell out of the West Edmonton Mall roller coaster as a child. I remember the first time playing a game using a blindfold and somebody guiding me into a wall just for kicks actually led to me having severe trust issues and not doing any trust exercises for nearly a decade.”
The change in his attitude came three years ago when the very limited social circle Saunders had abandoned him.
“I stayed up all night thinking about my future and where it was leading me. I didn’t like the future. It looked lonely, empty, and void of anything interesting.
“The next day I booked a parasailing adventure in Kelowna.”
The following day he reached out to an online friend and met up with her and her mother in person.
Then he got his passport.
“I booked a weekend in Vegas because I wanted to see a UFC event live as well as Penn and Teller.
“Then I went to an Amazing Race finale event and Survivor reunion show where I had a brush in with Jeff Probst and met Phil Keoghan. Numerous contestants knew me from my blogging and podcasting. I never experienced that before outside of my little neighbourhood in Vernon—nobody cared about who I was in Vernon.”
He started organizing mini-reunions, created bonds, attending charity events and more.
“My whole life I spent asking myself ‘Why would anyone do that?’ and now it is ‘Why wouldn’t I do that?’” said Saunders, who travelled Western Europe and Cuba two years ago, and whose mom, who also never traveled overseas in her life, left Canada to go visit Europe for a month and followed in her sons footsteps.
Now Saudners is doing Around the World in 180 Days.
“I love that number because it is truly the completion of a 180-degree turn for me.”
His route, visiting various city’s for approximately three days at a time, is: Japan-Philippines-Australia-Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore-Thailand-South Africa-maybe Rwanda-Egypt-Greece-Montenegro-Bosnia-Kosovo-Serbia-Croatia-Belgium-and potentially Spain.
Saunders recently arrived in the Phillippines, sad to leave Japan, especially Tokyo.
“I did so many things in Tokyo in 10 days and felt like I still didn’t have enough time. I saw a sumo tournament, went to Capcom Cafe, Square Enix Cafe, the best Pokemon Cafe in all of Japan, Tokyo Skytree, Nakano Broadway, nightlife in the Roppongi district, checking out Harajuku district for Gwen Stefani references, Imperial Gardens, Senso-Ji, Meiji Gardens, and the iconic Shibuya Crossing with its nearby Hachiko statue.
“Tokyo absolutely blew me away,” said Saunders, noting that Shinjuku Station has eight million people cross through it each day yet just a five-minute walk away there is the peaceful and beautiful Shinjuku National Garden, away from the crowds.
Every stop has its own unique story. And those are what Saunders hopes will help bring others, once like him, out of their comfort zones and explore all this world has to offer.
“When I return, I don’t want it to be a case of me bragging about my many stories of travel – I really want to use the limited platform I have to help and guide others. Within Vernon, thousands of people are like me – they are discouraged, pessimistic, and don’t think our current climate can put them in a situation to do anything. I want to help people be able to have their own stories of success to tell and to get out of the basement like I did.”