Most people entertain a dream of traveling the world at one point or another. There’s an undeniable appeal to being the modern day Phileas Fogg — except more private jet and less hot air balloon. Sadly, however, even the most savvy user of a points program can find themselves prevented from realizing their dreams by the costs of gas, food, and lodging. This is why we look to people who take on the role of digital nomad with such fascination. How the hell do they do it? In the case of Richard Tilney-Bassett, you establish The Glass Passport Project, and trade your photography services for transport, accommodations, and meals. The ultimate goal is to arrange back-to-back trades in all seven continents — allowing Tilney-Basset to go without spending any money for the duration of his trip.
So far, the bold adventurer has been quite successful. You can look at many of his trades on his Instagram account and website. Extra special subscribers are given even more access to his photography and musings. For you see, he posts journal entries about the trips in addition to the images. It’s a genuinely fascinating peek into the project — like reading a travel diary. The images are varied, as Tilney-Basset’s trades call for different things, but he often creates close ups of everyday acts, giving them increased significance, and seems to revel in architecture.
We sat down with Tilney-Bassett to learn about the origins of his big trip, his favorite trades, his future plans, and what it’s like to sleep in strangers’ homes for months and months in end. We don’t know that we could be quite this laid back about travel, but we are considering making him our #TravelGoals instead of Phileas.
Can you give me a little bit of background on yourself?
I’m from the UK. I’ve gone down the straight and narrow through my education and done a degree and even a masters. I graduated and I went into that postgraduate world of “What am I doing with myself?” And, I fell into a random job to pay my way to stay in the city. That was a frustrating period. It wasn’t all bad by any means, but I didn’t know what work I wanted to do. But, in that time, I bought a camera and that grew gradually alongside this period of reevaluating what my priorities were, until eventually that came to a head and I left my job last year in June, and came on to this project.