Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

Clive Richards art class in Barcelona

We met Clive last summer in France, when volunteering and living in the castle, in the region of Burgundy. While we were making beds and cleaning rooms in family run B&B in the castle, Clive was working with wood. During his time there he built cool dog house, children’s playground and did some small repairs.

While chatting with Clive we understood, that from all the people we know he is the only one with such a big volunteering experience. His stories inspired us. So we decided to make an interview with Clive. Let this man’s life story be an inspiration for some of you as well!

– Please, Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself!

Hi, my name is Clive Richards. I was born in the UK and have lived in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Maui Hawaii. I am now on an open ended travel lifestyle through the Workaway website. My passion is art (painting) and this lifestyle gives me the time to develop my art, along with never ending inspiration through the people I meet and places I go.

If you would like to see some of my art, you can view it at my website cliverichards.simpl.com.

– Where Are You Now? How Do You Like It There?

I am presently near the little town of Tarajalejo, on Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. I like it very much as it is a cool, meditation art type holiday place and it is warm in January.

Over the past year, I have volunteered in a number of places in Spain, also in Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and this month I will go to Malta.

Fes Morocco - Volunteering Experience - Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

– When and How Did You Understand, that You Want to Go and Travel?

I had known for many years that I wanted to explore the world as the routine which we become accustomed to, was no longer fulfilling. About 2 years before I started travelling, I began to prepare.

I felt that I needed to become as light as possible to cut additional expenses, like storage. I worked extra hours and payed off debt and was careful not to reacquire it, I still do have a small amount, but it is very manageable even on my travel budget. I started to part with material possessions.

This process took the entire 2 years as only after I had let go of some things, did other things become less important and I was able to let go of them too. Down to about 5% of what I carried around with me for 30 plus years, thinking it had something to do with who I am, the freedom from materiel possessions, is euphoric.

There is no loss of personal identity, there is a gain of practical joy. The thing is, the only way to understand and feel this, is to,… ‘let go’.

– Was It Hard Decision for You to Leave that Safe Place Called Home?

I treated leaving the safe place called home, by staying connected to my dream to travel. When uncertainty set in, I would think of all the other people I knew whom had traveled and I knew, I could do it too.

I was pretty sure that travelling, was something that would quickly become comfortable, I just needed to get started. Sort of like the feeling of walking into a new classroom, where you don’t know anyone and by the end of the week, you are having a beer with 2 new friends.

Eifel tower - Paris - Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

– Why to Volunteer Not Have a “Real Job”, You Must Have Heard This Question at Least Once. Your Answer?

I answer this by telling people,… “I do have a job”, the same job as I have always done (a carpenter ) but now I only work 4 to 5 hrs a day, have much more time to myself and don’t pay car insurance, repairs, rent, food or utility bills. There is no monetary exchange, so both myself and the host feel we are each getting a great deal, so,… no job stress.

At the end of the month, I have only spent a few euros for treats and have had much more free time. Without having all the bills that don’t stop, like rent, yet, sometimes your income does, you don’t go into any substantial debt.

So, not only do you not have any job stress, but you also, do not have any life stress and you do have a lot of joy and free time, to follow your passion and enjoy life.

We Are All Made Of Stars

– What Have You Learned During Your Travels?

Wow, there is so much I have learned that it would take up a lot of writing space. So, maybe the best way to summarize, would be to say, where ever you travel and spend a little time, your life will become richer.

What I mean is, you will expand on the things you know and learn much more, that you never knew. You will also feel a more fuller and fulfilled,… ‘You’ by simply walking down a different street, in a different town and soaking in the energy of the unfamiliar environment, from the people, architecture and the goings on in the little establishments you pass and visit.

Or walking a new beach, country road or mountain trail, it all builds on who you presently are, you become more.

Barcelona Spain - Volunteering Experience - Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

In Barcelona, Spain – Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

– Your Tips on Finding the Best Volunteering Place

For me, there are a few criteria for finding my next volunteering destination. The first is ‘weather’ I like to be warm, so depending on what time of year it is, this will determine the general direction I will be heading.

Second, is travel costs to possible destinations. Once I have found a desirable destination and great travel fair, I scout workaway hosts which are looking for people with my skills or something interesting which they are willing to teach me how to do.

– Is There Something You Miss from “Home”?

If I ever feel like I miss something from home, I realize, what I am missing is such a small part of the ‘whole’, as in, the whole day, week or month. Currently, much more of the ‘whole’ is filled with interesting events, happiness and satisfaction than it was at home.

I have come to realize, that a perfect place does not exist, so where I like to be, is where most of the ‘whole’, is filled with interest, happiness and satisfaction.

– How Does Your Luggage Look?

My luggage has become half of what it was when I started. Only having carry-on, is the key to effortless and inexpensive travel. Unless you have an instrument or bicycle, that type of thing, which enriches your experience at your destination, carry-on is the way to go.

all luggage of Clive - Volunteering Experience - Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

Clive’s luggage – Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

I also like to play the guitar and have found, almost everywhere I go, there is one for me to use. My iPad is my camera, my planner, my maps, my phone for long distance calls, my guitar tuner, my music, well, you know the rest.

The less you have, the more freedom you have. I like to paint in my free time, so I carry a few small flat canvas boards and 100 ml tubes of the primary colours, a few brushes and pencils. Everything fits in my carryon and light shoulder bag.

– Are There Any Places You Definitely Want to Go? Where and Why? Places You Want to Return to?

I like historical architecture and old towns. I would like to try something very different from time to time, so Egypt, Jordan and the Moroccan desert, are on the wish list. The airfares to these destinations are a bit more expensive than a hop around Europe on Ryanair or Easyjet, so they will be in the future.

There are great places I have been and may one day return to, but only after I have seen much more of the world.

– What You Can Say to Those thinking – to Volunteer or Not?

I would say volunteering, is a, ‘Must Try’. I think you need at least one month to get a feel for this lifestyle, in only two weeks, you are still fully connected to home and your job and you don’t really get properly acquainted with your hosts and their way of living.

So, if you are between jobs or if you can take an unpaid month, a leave of absence from work, it would be a good opportunity to see if this could be a hobby, or possibly an alternative lifestyle for you.

Fes Tanneries in Morocco - Volunteering experience - Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

Clive in Fes, Morocco – Volunteering to Explore the World. Story of Clive Richards

All pictures used in the article are from Clive’s personal archive.

Author: Kaspars Misins

Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.