Who is the Wandering Volunteer?


Serving a meal I prepared for the children and parents at Fulani school, Kwahu, Ghana


I’m the guy on the left in the picture. My friends call me Jack, though to family I’m known as John. Either way I’m the Wandering Volunteer and this is the space where I reveal a little bit about myself!

Some time ago I decided that, if it was ever going to happen, I needed to act upon my long held dream to see more of the world. The trouble was that, as you see from my picture, I wasn’t a gap-year student or twenty something adventurer and the well trodden round the world itinerary didn’t particularly interest me.

I also knew and know myself well enough to understand that travelling in itself wasn’t going to float my boat. It just wouldn’t cut it for me. There was a realisation that I’d drift, the days on the road would soon merge into one and I soon pondered where the satisfaction lay in that?

A plan was needed, a purpose, if I was to get the most out of being on the road and open to the wonders that awaited me. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for my purpose to emerge.

But let’s rewind a little…

Once upon a time I had a proper job, a real career, that I pursued almost relentlessly, ruthlessly even at times, as I strove to climb the ladder to what appeared to be success, recognition and financial comfort. I enjoyed these fruits, they enabled me to vacation, far and wide, but looking back now I did not travel. Not as I travel nowadays.

I’d climbed pretty high within a multinational plc and ran a business unit within a strategically important geographic area. This was my pinnacle, my top-rung, full of profit and loss accounts, etcetera… yet after the initial euphoria I soon discovered that what they say about the Emperor and his new clothes bore a striking similarity to the view then in front of me.

Over time I realised that this wasn’t the life for me.

That was then, way back when…

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 01.31.02A spur of the moment decision, to volunteer for the UK charity, Crisis at Christmas, is where my world opened up and a purpose became apparent to me.


Christmas day washing dishes in the Crisis kitchen.

At the point of signing up to help one Christmas, I thought that it was merely an act of giving up some of my time. That I’d do some good and then walk away.

What I didn’t realise and wasn’t expecting was to meet so many dedicated fellow volunteers. Through spending time with them, talking to them, also importantly through the voluntary work I involved myself in during my stints with Crisis and the contact I had with our homeless guests I quickly felt inspired.

Without realising I developed another passion, to sit alongside my passion to travel.

I soon hatched a plan to volunteer my way around the world.