How This Amateur Photographer Travels the World for Free
He gets paid in plane tickets and lodging.
If you’re working through every day at a desk job, feverishly adding global destinations to your bucket list and spending free moments planning your next getaway, you’re not alone. Until last year, recent grad and U.K. native Richard Tilney-Bassett was in the same boat — until he decided to do something about it.
In July of 2016, Tilney-Bassett packed up his life and set out on the ultimate adventure, vowing to travel the world without spending a dime. While his plan sounds impossible considering the cost of plane tickets, lodging, food, and other daily expenses, Tilney-Basset had an idea: to trade his professional photography services for transportation and room and board, traveling wherever there was work and someone to host him.
The idea came from an “unwillingness to wait for someone else's say so to create the changes I sought,” Tilney-Bassett wrote on his website. “A pursuit grown from a belie[f] that the answer to what my place in the world is was to be found in throwing myself out into it.”
Still, as Tilney-Bassett explained to CNN Traveler, he "didn't know how to be a photographer or to support [himself] as a photographer.” While this may seem like more than a minor roadblock when trying to sell yourself as such, Tilney-Bassett was determined to make his project happen anyway, relying on word of mouth and accepting local jobs around the U.K. to hone his skills. Before long, The Glass Passport project had gone global.
Since starting out last year, Tilney-Bassett has been a part of 64 different trades around the world, photographing people, places, and events across Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Kenya, the U.K., and more. He even had the opportunity to photograph the Uganda International Marathon this past May. Along the way, those desiring his photography services have provided the food, beds, and plane tickets, meaning he’s able to do it all for free.
As he told CNN Traveler, his work is nowhere near done.
“The broader goal is to see if I can reach every continent," Tilney-Bassett said. "I'm very much carrying it on and going further afield with it as well. There's much more to come."