My First Trip


On the 26th March 2012 I set off from London on what was my my first ever trip abroad. With no real idea on what to expect, I kept myself going in the knowledge that when nothing is clear, everything is possible and with this mindset, I found myself:
  • Meeting with Prime Minister of Canada
  • Hitchhiking, alone, 5,000km across Canada - around the lakes, across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains
  • Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to hike up to the top of Mount St Helens
  • Spending nearly 6 months living on the outskirts of Mexico City 
The highlight however was not where I went or what I did... no, it was who I met. Over the 18 months I spent travelling, I was incredibly fortunate to meet hundreds of wonderful people who were wherever I went, kind, caring and unbelievably welcoming.

This adventure was, put simply, the best time of my life and never before (or since) have I ever been so happy. 

Where did I go?

Distance travelled - 36,402km / 22,751 miles 

United States of America: Bellingham, Seattle, Forks, Mount St Helens, Bellingham, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica

Mexico: Mexico City, Teotihuacan, Leon, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, Valladolid, San Cristobal de las Casas,

Guatemala: Antigua

My Journal Entries

From the moment I decided to go on the trip I began writing an online journal to capture and record all of my experiences. Whilst I stopped writing shortly after arriving in Mexico, I still managed to capture more than 150 entries which together form the best souvenir I could have ever asked for:

001: So I Guess This is the Beginning
In the first entry to his journal, Ben reveals how graduate life is not living up to his expectations (5th February  2011) 

002: First thing First
Ben sets out his financial plan for ridding himself of his debts and saving enough money to fund his future adventures (6th February 2011)

003: A Planner by Nature
Ben reveals why planning a round the World trip is giving him such a buzz (27th February 2011)

004: Every Rash has a Silver Lining
Ben proves that every rash does indeed have a silver lining (9th April 2011)

005: The Revolution: Easy as One, Two, Three 
Ben sets out three personal goals for his time before setting off around the World (5th June 2011)

006: Soggy Shoes
Ben hangs up his apron for the very last time (9th October 2011)

007: Summer in a Snapshot
Ben takes a look back on what was a very busy summer (9th October 2011)

008: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Ben sets out his plan to teach English as a foreign language and explains what he has been doing to make this dream a reality (21st November 2011)

009: Ben's Approach to Planning a Round the World Trip
Ben reveals his approach to planning a round the World adventure (27th November 2011)

010: The Route
After 18 months of reading and researching, Ben reveals his ideal route for travelling around the World (27th November 2011)

011: The Seven Stages of the Revolution
Ben explains what he is doing to make planning his round the World adventure just a little less daunting (27th November 2011)

012: Whips and Chains: The Austrian Invasion
With his plans to travel around the World relying heavily on CouchSurfing, Ben decided to try his hand at playing host and welcomes for the weekend two students from Vienna, Austria (7th December 2011)

013: The Austrian Review
In addition to the good memories, the Austrians leave behind a kind worded reference (22nd December 2011)

014: Ebenezer
Looking back over the festive period, Ben reveals why Christmas will never again be the same (27th 
December 2011)

015: Introducing Ben Elf and Spindles
Ben introduces two new friends (27th December 2011)

016: The Work Exchange
Ben discusses how he plans to spend years away from home... without breaking the bank (30th December 2011)

017: Tonight's the Night
After more than 12 months of reading, researching and planning, Ben finally takes the plunge and books his one way flight out of the UK (30th December 2011)

018: iBroke
Ben has a nasty accident in the toilet (1st January 2012)

019: My New Home
With his flight booked and paid for, Ben makes his second most vital purchase for his plans to travel around the World (7th January 2012)

020: Why Have a Dog When You Can Bark Yourself?
With CouchSurfing to feature heavily in his round the World travels, how will Ben find hosting two guests from Germany? (8th January 2012)

021: Dear Barry
Ben finally gets to live the moment he has been looking forward to for nearly 2 years (9th January 2012)

022: The First Nerve
With the trip of a lifetime nearing ever closer, Ben gets his first butterfly (18th January 2012)

023: The German Review
After having a great time hosting both Martin and Mel, Ben finds out if they also had a good time (18th January 2012)

024: Vees-Urgh
Ben discusses his concerns travelling without a return ticket (26th January 2012)

025: Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases
Ben reveals the various vaccinations he has received in preparation for his round the World adventure (27th January 2012)

026: 40 Days and 40 Nights
As the final countdown begins, Ben reflects on what is now just around the corner (15th February 2012)

027: Transitioning
Ben discusses what it is like to trade in a city centre apartment for a rucksack (4th March 2012)

028: Christopher Columpig Comes Up Trumps
Ben is in for a pleasant surprise (7th March 2012)

029: Your Destiny Lies With White Chocolate
After two and a half years spent working with Ben, what will his colleagues predict for his future? (9th March 2012)

030: New Photo Album: Birmingham, England
Ben publishes a collection of photos from his current home in Birmingham, England (11th March 2012)

031: Time Flies When You're Having Fun
Ben returns home to Devon only to see things from an entirely new perspective (12th March 2012)

032: The Goodbye Tour
With his adventure of a lifetime potentially lasting years, Ben was never going to leave quietly (24th March 2012)

033: Photo Album: The Goodbye Tour
Ben reveals a collection of photos from across England, taken during The Goodbye Tour (25th March 2012)

034: The Black Pearl
After a day spent flying above the home of Shakespeare, Ben heads back to Coventry where before his departure he is in for one final surprise (26th March 2012)

035: This is The Ginger Revolution
After 18 months of planning, the moment to depart has finally come and from the Departure Lounge in Gatwick Airport, Ben takes a moment to reflect on how he is feeling (26th March 2012)

036: Gate 13
After 18 long months of planning, the adventure of a lifetime begins at Gate 13 (26th March 2012)

037: Passport Please
Travelling on a one way ticket, Ben has for months worried about being refused entry to Canada. Would his worries be justified? (26th March 2012)

038: Welcome to Toronto
Upon arriving in to Toronto, Ben stumbles upon an exciting find (27th March 2012)

039: Day #000
For the first time in his life, Ben sets foot on foreign ground (27th March 2012)

040: The SkyPod

Ben heads for the most iconic building in Toronto (27th March 2012)

041: AC Newman
Whilst CouchSurfing in Toronto, Ben gets to experience a true Canadian delicacy (29th March 2012)

042: Niagra Falls

Ben visits the World famous Niagra Falls only to find it doesn't quite live up to  expectations  (29th March 2012)

043: Balls Falls
Ben thanks CouchSurfing host Dan for his hospitality whilst in Ajax (30th March 2012)

044: New Photo Album: Toronto and Niagra Falls
Ben publishes a collection a photos from Toronto and Niagra Falls (30th March 2012)

045: Quail Hunting
Ben tries to remember the night that was Whitby, Ontario (31st March 2012)

046: 'Ello Love
Ben had been told whilst in Toronto not to expect much from Oshawa but with 3 nights CouchSurfing on the cards could this small town in fact be a hidden gem? (3rd April 2012)

047: You Have to Kiss Us
With nowhere to sleep, Marie-Michelle comes to the rescue (4th April 2012)

048: New Photo Album: Whitby, Oshawa and Peterborough
Ben Collins publishes a collection of photos from his experience CouchSurfing in Ontario (5th April 2012)

049: Welcome to Tweed
Ben introduces his first work exchange project in Tweed, Ontario (6th April 2012)

050: The Transplant
Ben reveals what is involved working on a blueberry farm (7th April 2012)

051: Rock Dunder
Ben experiences stunning vistas at Rock Dunder and rides the ferry to Wolfe Island (8th April 2012)

052: The Adventist's

Ben is invited to join host John and fellow work-awayers Sophie and Alena to a Health and Wellbeing classes run by 7th Day Adventist's  (11th April 2012)

053: Pork You Pine
Oh look... a porcupine (11th April 2012)

054: Sunset on the Pond

After a long day at the blueberries, Ben captures the tranquillity of the beaver pond at sunset (11th April 2012)

055: Snapping Turtles
Ben unexpectedly stumbles upon the largest freshwater turtle in Canada (13th April 2012)

056: The Accidental Marathon
Ben gets lost on the back roads of Tweed (15th April 2012)

057: As Fate Would Have It

With little in the way of plans beyond his next work exchange, Ben's concerns are answered by an apparent act of fate (18th April 2012)

058: Evangelical Environmentalists
Ben discusses the lengths that his current hosts in Tweed go to in order to be environmentally friendly (20th April 2012)

059: Gratefulness
After two weeks on the blueberries, Ben looks back at his time in  (20th April 2012)

060: Apple and Pumpkin Curry Cream Soup
Ben shares his favourite dish from Tweed(20th April 2012)

061: Tweed, Ontario. Canada
Ben publishes a collection of photos from his travels in Ontario, Canada (20th April 2012)

062: Don't Pass Go, Don't Collect $200
Ben blogs about his round the World travel and adventures from the Canadian capital, Ottawa (21st April 2012)

063: Ottawa, Ontario. Canada
Ben publishes a collection of photos from his visit to Ottawa, Ontario (23rd April 2012)

064: At Home with The Flecther's
From the home of his second Work Exchange, Ben presents his stay for the first time in film (15th May 2012)

065: New Photo Album: Winchester, Ontario

Ben publishes his photos taken whilst in Winchester, Ontario in Canada. (15th May 2012)

066: Bear Sausage
Ben sets out his personal goals for the duration of his stay in Alexandria. (16th May 2012)

067: One Ninety Seven
Ben discovers his new lifestyle is having an adverse effect on his waistline (21st May 2012)

068: A Word From Tweed
Ben receives a message from a previous Work Exchange host (21st May 2012)

069: The Black Fly
Ben explains why he chose to leave Cornerstone Farm just ten days in to what should have been a six week work exchange (24th May 2012)

070: Thumb's Up

Ben reveals his first ever experience of hitchhiking and hints at how this short 72km journey may in fact change his life forever (25th May 2012)

071: A Long Exposure
Ben previews his long exposure photographs taken during a thunderstorm in Winchester, Ontario, Canada (10th June 2012)

072: Axe Lay's
Ben rants about the Canadian supermarket (11th June 2012)

073: The Powder Room
After being asked to refit a host's bathroom, Ben admits he may have bitten off more than he can chew (16th June 2012)

074: The Powder Room: The Big Reveal
Ben reveals the fruits of his labour after spending two weeks refitting his host's bathroom in Winchester, Ontario (17th June 2012)

075: 24 Sussex Drive
Ben reveals how he ended up meeting the Prime Minister and First Lady of Canada at their residence, 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa (17th June 2012)

076: Bienvenue á Montreal
Ben notes five things that make Montreal stand out as being special (19th June 2012)

077: Quatre jours á Montreal
In what felt like a truly unique experience, Ben recounts his four days in Montreal (21st June 2012)

078: New Photo Album: Montreal, Quebec
Ben  publishes a collection of photos from his four day visit to Montreal, Canada (22nd June 2012)

079: French Ben

Ben reveals how an open-request on CouchSurfing led to him having the greatest weekends in Quebec celebrating the St Jean Baptiste holiday (25th June 2012)

 New Photo Album: Quebec City
Ben publishes his latest photo album from his weekend stay in Quebec City (25th June 2012)

081: Coming Soon
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Ben Collins reveals the second leg of his journey (25th June 2012)

082: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: One Direction
Upon completing the 1st leg of his travels, Ben  reveals his plans for hitchhiking his way 5,000km across Canada (25th June 2012)

083: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 0: Ping Pong

On the eve of his first day hitchhiking across Canada, Ben CouchSurfs with first-time hosts Tom and Katie (26th June 2012)

084: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 1: Princess Ben
After a morning spent canoeing Ben finally begins his 5,000km adventure hitchhiking across Canada (26th June 2012)

085: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 2, Part 1: Misery Attracts
In the first of a two-part post, Ben reveals how his second day hitchhiking across Canada became a true nightmare experience (27th June 2012)

086: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 2, Part 2: The Bait
In the second of a two-part post, Ben reveals the conclusion of his day from hell hitchhiking across Ontario in Canada (27th June 2012)

087: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 3: Two Mike's and a Jocelyn
Ben reveals how he managed to hitchhike Northen Ontario in just two rides (28th June 2012)

088: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 4: Thunder Bay
Ben briefly summarises his 2-night stay in Thunder Bay, Ontario whilst hitchhiking across Canada (29th June 2012)

089: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 5: So Long Ontario, So Long
On the first day since setting out on his adventure to hitchhike across Canada, Ben makes some real progress and finally makes it out of Northern Ontario and in to Manitoba (1st July 2012)

090: New Photo Album: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Ontario. Canada

A collection of photos from Ben's travels whilst hitchhiking across Ontario, Canada (1st July 2012)

091: 100 Days Later
On his 100th day travelling, Ben Collins takes a moment to reflect on the journey so far

092: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Winnipeg - Canada's Mistake

Ben succinctly describes how his stay in Winnipeg was nothing to note. (4th July 2012)

093: New Photo Album: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Manitoba. Canada 
Ben publishes a collection of photos taken during his stay in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (4th July 2012)

094: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 9: Gus
Ben reveals a day of two halves as he hitchhikes his way in to the great plains of central Canada (4th July 2012)

095: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: The Place That Rhymes With FunBen Collins relives what is yet another great example of why everybody should join CouchSurfing (6th July 2012)

096: New Photo Album: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Saskatchewan. Canada 

Ben publishes his collection of photos taken whilst hitchhiking through Saskatchewan, Canada. (6th July 2012)

097: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Barry Will Love You
Ben briefly looks back at one of the least interesting days hitchhiking across Canada (7th July 2012)

098: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: BOOM!
Ben describes the extraordinary rate of growth in Alberta (7th July 2012)

099: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 12: First Sight
Ben hitchhikes to Calgary, during which he captures first sight of the Rocky Mountains (7th July 2012)

100: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Take A Note
To mark his 101st journal entry, Ben Collins shows his readers a rare first hand look into the workings behind each post (9th July 2012)

101: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Stampede
Ben Collins shows the highlights of the Calgary Stampede in a short three minute video (9th July 2012)

102: New Photo Album: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Calgary, Alberta. CanadaBen publishes a collection of photos taken whilst in Calgary, Alberta (10th July 2012)

103: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 14: Lady Macdonald
After years spent dreaming of the Rocky Mountains, Ben Collins' journey across Canada finally reaches the town of Canmore (10th July 2012)

104: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 15: "Shopping for a New Place to Live
Ben hitchhikes his way deeper in to the Canadian Rockies, bypassing Banff and heading straight for Lake Louise (11th July 2012)

105: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Lake Louise
Having reached the Canadian Rockies, Ben finds himself marvelling at the wonders of Lake Louise (12th July 2012)

106: New Photo Album: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Canmore and Lake Louise
A collection of photos taken from in and around both Canmore and Lake Louise, Alberta (12th July 2012)

107: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Friday 13th: The Greatest Day
During a three day road trip through the Rocky Mountains, Ben discovers whether or not the Icefields Parkway lives up to its high expectation (13th July 2012)

108: New Photo Album: The Rocky Mountains and the Icefield Parkway
A collection of photos taken by Kilian Altenberger and myself during our roadtrip up the Icefields Parkway (15th July 2012)

109: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Kilian

Sharing his road trip through the Rocky Mountains, Ben learns a valuable lesson that travelling alone might not always be the preferred option (16th July 2012)

110: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 23: Andrea
Ben reveals his experience hitchhiking more than 1,000km from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia (19th July 2012)

111: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: The Bear at Whistler
Whilst en route to Vancouver, Ben finally gets a real encounter with a black bear (19th July 2012)

112: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Vancouver
Upon leaving Vancouver disappointed, Ben  declares his intentions to give this city a second chance (23rd July 2012)

113: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 28/28: To The Island
As Ben reaches the end of his adventure hitching across Canada, he looks back on what has been an incredible four weeks (23rd July 2012)

114: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada
After hitching 5,000km across Canada, Ben presents the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Canada
115: Vancouver Island: The Cat's Arses
Ben looks back on his eight weeks spent on Vancouver Island and how leaving might be more difficult than he expected (15th September 2012)

116: Dear America

Ahead of his arrival in to the USA, Ben writes a heart felt letter to America making clear he comes with an open mind (24th September 2012)

117: Canada: The Highlights
Ben publishes the highlights from his six months travelling across Canada (25th September 2012)

118: Dear America (Part ii)

Ben briefly describes his experience crossing the border overland in to the USA from Canada (25th September 2012)

119: Not Where, Whom
Ben reveals how his first stop backpacking in the USA was made complete not by where he was but instead who he was with (28th September 2012)

120: Russian Tea Cakes
Ben publishes a much liked recipe from his time CouchSurfing in Bellingham (28th September 2012)

121: Tree Cum
Ben's week long visit to Seattle begins in the University District where he is hosted by a Portuguese neuroscientist (1st October 2012)

122: CouchSailing
Ben CouchSurfs on a sailboat (3rd October 2012)

123: Bone Stuff
Ben visits a real life Alladin's cave of horrors (5th October 2012)

124: New Photo Abum: Washington, USA

Ben publishes a collection of photos taken whilst travelling through Washington State, USA

125: Mr Wilson
After a night in a motel, Ben fulfils a life long dream and hikes up an active volcano (8th October 2012)

126: New Photo Album
Ben Hikes a Volcano: Ben publishes a collection of photos taken during his hike up Mount St Helens

127: Double Backing
After an exhausting hike, a well timed email leads to Ben breaking one of the most fundamental of rules of his journey (16th October 2012)

128: The Fall is Coming
On the eve of a 3,000 mile journey South for the Winter, Ben reveals a surprise change he has noted in himself since leaving the UK in March 2012 (17th October 2012)

129: Hansel
Making the best of a bad situation, Ben experiences perhaps his least favourite CouchSurfing experience so far (19th October 2012)

130: The Greyhound

Having travelled 2,500 miles on the Greyhound bus in America, Ben reveals what this most legendary form of transport is really like (19th October 2012)

131: 16.5hrs
In what was the longest journey of his life, Ben recounts the entertaining tale of how he made it to San Francisco (19th October 2012)

132: I'll Be Back

After months of deliberation, Ben Collins reveals his intentions to create a bigger and better Ginger Revolution

133: From Tiny Acorns
After two months away from his journal, Ben Collins announces his return with renewed purpose, drive and ambition

134: All New. All Change
Having redesigned the Ginger Revolution from the ground up, Ben introduces what's new and what's yet still to come.

135: Yes. I am Gay
In his most intimate post yet, Ben reveals his most personal experience of coming to terms with being gay and learning to both accept and embrace his sexuality

136: New Photo Album: California
Ben publishes his final collection of photos from Stage 1

137: Dear America (Part 3)
In his third and final letter to America, Ben reveals what he really thinks of the “greatest country on Earth”

138: The Stage 1 Review: A Quest for Happiness
In the first of a series of entries marking the end of Stage 1, Ben reminds himself of why his journey first began

139: The Stage 1 Review: The Four Legs
From London to LA, Ben begins his Stage 1 Review by looking back at how his four legs have shaped the journey so far

140: The Stage 1 Review: Making It Count
In the next instalment of the Stage 1 Review, Ben takes a closer look at the driving force behind his adventure

141: The Stage 1 Review: The Extracts: 
Continuing the Stage 1 Review Ben uses extracts from his journal to relay his best and worst moment moments from Stage 1

142: The Stage 1 Review: The Stats and The Facts
Ben reveals the stats and facts of his 7 months in North America, including just how much it cost him

143: Gate 27: As One Stage Ends
In the penultimate part of his Stage One Review, Ben Collins reveals the stats and facts of his 7 months in North America, including how much it cost him

144: On the Cusp
On the cusp of a brand new stage, Ben invites you to take a final look back over the last 7 months travelling across Canada and the USA, whilst also providing you a quick sneak preview at what is in store...

147: A New Chapter 
Ben announces the return of his online and unedited travel journal - The Ginger Revolution (1st July 2013)

148: A New World: Part 1
In the first of a two-part entry, Ben reveals his motivations for starting his journey on such familiar western ground

149: A New World: Part 2
Direct from his flight heading South, Ben recounts the nerves and excitement of beginning a brand new stage in Mexico & Central America

150: The Plan
In lands now truly foreign to his own, Ben sets out his Plan of Action for Mexico and Central America (19th July 2013)

151: Benito Juarez
Arriving in to Mexico, Ben spends an entire day in Benito Juarez International Airport where he is greeted by not one, but two valuable lessons for his future

152: The Bombardment
In a series of entries recounting his first full week in Mexico City, Ben begins recalling the bombardment of his first night

153: Familiar Faces
In meeting his first Mexican host, Ben reveals how his perception of a familiar face has changed since leaving the UK

154: ¡No hablo español!
Upon leaving Mexico City's airport, Ben reveals what it was that made him immediately feel so uncomfortable

155: The Metro
Arriving on to the streets of Mexico City, I find myself being taken deep underground and on the metro

Unfortunately, it was at this point I stopped writing in my journal, something which I now really regret.