The Exile Traveler/Minimalist: An interview with Colin Wright

This interview first appeared on Successilism on Oct 14, 2012

He travels the world every 4 months and lets his readers decide his next destination. He only owns 51 things (as of writing this) in the whole wide world and aside from being a full time traveler, he’s also an author, a designer and an entrepreneur. How cool is that?

I stumbled upon Colin Wright’s website by accident. I remember googling about “traveling designer” when his website showed up. Curious, I checked it out and I was instantly AMAZED. For those of you who doesn’t have a clue who Colin Wright is, please take time to visit his website at Colin Wright was the first person that entered my mind as I was listing people I would like to invite for Successilism’s interview feature. His travel adventures are not only fun to read, but they’re inspiring as well.  Not to mention that he’s uber friendly and helpful. Qualities that are hard to come these days.

So without further ado, here’s Colin Wright!


How would you describe yourself?
It really depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, to keep things simple, I just say “I write,” especially if I’m in a hurry, because people usually don’t ask for details in case I’m just using code for “I’m unemployed and broke.” Otherwise, I’ll tell people that I’m traveling and I write along the way, run a few businesses, and get involved in anything else I find interesting as I go.

What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be a comic book artist. I was the biggest comic book geek for most of my childhood, and I was very determined to be the next Todd McFarlane. That artsy-practice led me to become a fine artist, and then a designer, in college.

Growing up, what does the word “success” meant to you?
When I was very young, success meant being able to make and do cool stuff all the time. Then I grew up and it was about making money and having more stuff. Then I grew up more, and it became about making and doing cool stuff again.

Was life easy for you back then?
Looking back, it really was. My family was never well-off, but we certainly weren’t lacking anything we needed. My parents definitely made raising me and my siblings their first priority, so we had it pretty good. That doesn’t mean we always got what we wanted, but it meant we were raised to figure out how to get what we wanted (arguably a much more valuable gift).

Was there something you wished you knew 5 years ago?
Not to take the stuff I didn’t enjoy or truly benefit from so seriously.

Things you wish you did differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently: I love where I am now, and endless reading of science fiction has taught me that changing a single breath or step would irreparably change everything.

What’s your ultimate failure so far?
I’ve had a lot of them, but I wouldn’t call any of them ‘utter,’ even if they were somewhat horrific for me personally at the time. I think if I wouldn’t have gotten back up and tried again afterward they would have been utter failures, but thankfully I haven’t done that yet (and don’t intend to, either!).

Was there a time you felt like you were just wasting your time pursuing something that seemed far-fetched to other people?
I’ve pursued a lot of things like that, but none of the time was wasted. In all cases, I was either 1) learning something the hard way, 2) triangulating a new trajectory by figuring out which paths wouldn’t work, or 3) enjoying something that wouldn’t be considered a success in the traditional sense of the word. So long as you walk away from a situation better than you started, you’ve wasted no time.

Describe a typical day for a Colin Wright.
There really isn’t a typical day, and sometimes my days are even less typical than normal. Sometimes I wake up at 5am and write for the next 48 hours without sleep. Sometimes I sleep until 10am and walk around town, going out for a party at night and drinking with friends.

Sometimes I read in the park or sketch interesting buildings and listen to music or network with businessy folk. Sometimes I’m on the road, on a train, in the air, or on a boat/motor bike/rickshaw/camel. Sometimes I spend all day on the computer, finding interesting articles and sharing them, or building a new website for whatever project has caught my fancy at that point in time.

Actually, the most ‘typical’ thing for me to be doing is something atypical. If I have too many habits or do the same thing too many days in a row, that would be very strange for me indeed.

How do you deal with homesickness? (Do you even experience those moments?)
I’m lucky in that I don’t have a home, and therefore I have nothing to be sick about! That sounds like a joke, but it’s actually quite true. Not having someplace back in the States where I hoard my stuff and have my favorite chair/bed/shirt/whatever allows me to settle in and make wherever I happen to be at that very moment my home. Some homes are better than others, and I miss all of the places I’ve lived from time to time, but since I’m always at home due to this approach, it tends never to be a very big deal.

What inspires you?
A frightening number of things. Pretty much anything, in fact. People, places, things, ideas (nouns, I guess). Discoveries. Far out concepts. Remarkable lifestyles. Beauty (traditional and non-traditional). Learning something new.

People that inspires you?
Anyone who does something (anything) well. And people who want to, and put in an honest effort to make it happen. People who have made the world better for everyone in some way. People who defy odds to become better versions of themselves.

How do you define success now?
As I mentioned above, success for me today means having the means and freedom to do and make cool stuff. It’s a little vague, I know, but that’s intentional, because I never know what will catch my fancy next, and I don’t want to ever put a box around something that should be continuously evolving.

Advice for people who wants to become successful?
Be nice. Do things well. Live intentionally.


Colin Wright Blog / Books / Exiles / Twitter