ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Gareth Leonard grew up in Hilton, but if you ask where he lives now, there’s no easy answer.
That’s because he makes a living, well, living all over the world.
The Fredonia graduate sold his Buffalo-based textbook business and became what he calls an “adventure capitalist.” He moves to foreign countries for months or years at a time and blogs his experience of “traveling deeper.”
“What if you go in this complete opposite direction that not many people go in, or not many people know they have the opportunity to go in?" Leonard said. "I had a little bit of money saved up, and a little bit of time and I said I just wanted to live one year in a foreign place. Learn a foreign language, learn about a foreign culture and just really dive in.”
And dive in he did.
He extended that original one year in Argentina to include places like Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Turkey, Nepal and Bhutan. He calls his website “Tourist 2 Townie” to reflect the fact that he goes beyond the main attractions.
“I love to see a place, but what do they do in that place?" Leonard said. "Because if I have a goal for a destination, it gives me the opportunity to travel deeper and to get involved on a different level than just saying, ‘I want to go explore that country.’”
That included a goal, literally, of working as a World Cup photographer in Brazil.
He says Americans could benefit from prioritizing travel the way other cultures do.
“You want to gain a lot of experience and lifetime experience first through travel and other different aspects of life that we as Americans often devalue and say, ‘Okay, when you retire, you go and travel the world,’" Leonard said. "And for me, that’s just too late. Because when you retire, how much can you really do? And what does that travel experience lend to your life experience now?”
In other words, Leonard says not to delay a potentially life-changing adventure.
“Just get out there and experience the world because it’s crazy and it’s beautiful," he said. "And just get out of your comfort zone, whether it’s travel or otherwise. And just push yourself to your limitations because you learn so much about yourself.”