An estimated 400 people – 0.000000001% of humans who have ever lived – have visited over 150 of the world’s countries. I am one of them. And today, I’m releasing my first book. It’s called The Travelling Ape: What Travelling (Nearly) Everywhere Taught Me about Humanity, Geopolitics, and Happiness. As the title suggests, it’s a book about travel. About how travelling to 80% of the world’s countries changed my views about the world, and me as a person too. I share stories from my wide-ranging journeys across the world, as well as the lessons I learned along the way. About life, humanity, and the future of our planet.
If you’re reading this blog post – and by definition you’re reading every word that I choose to type right now – then I’d say there’s a good chance you might enjoy it. It contains anecdotes and personal stories from some of the world’s lesser-visited travel destinations. Places like Iraq. North Korea. Turkmenistan. Mongolia. You’ll be taken to seven continents on a journey spanning the entire planet.
But first, there are two fundamentally important things we know to be true about books: a) the longer the better b) always judge a book by its cover. My book is almost 500 pages long, and I think, the cover is sweet. Hopefully you agree. So if nothing else, if you buy my book and read it on the train or something, people who see you reading it might think you’re clever with such a thick book in your hands. Perhaps that’s enough? If that’s not, I’ve included reviews of the book from some fellow authors for you to look at, at the bottom of this post. Since its release, the book has become an Amazon bestseller.
Joking aside, and without going into to too much of a narcissistic ramble, this book is one of the things I’m most proud of so far in my near 35 years of rotating around the sun. It really has been almost 15 years in the making. In my trip to every continent (bar Antarctica, I feel it shouldn’t count as one), in spending years of my life abroad, this book kind of just came out of me. When I read it back now, I kind of don’t know where it came from. But the ideas and concepts, slowly but surely, solidified themselves in my mind the more of the world that I saw. The more of its people I met. And this is why I felt compelled to write it (this, and also being able to boast about being an author for the rest of my days).
I don’t want to give away too much of the book. The best way to find out what being one of the best travelled apes in human history taught me is to buy the book, from Amazon, in either eBook, paperback, or hardback form (for UK customers). For those outside the UK, search for ‘The Travelling Ape’ on Amazon to purchase the paperback or hardback in your home country. But it can’t hurt to have a few little teasers. In the first part of the book, I explore why we enjoy travel, where best to go, and why travel is a more important pursuit than we commonly think. In the second section, I outline what seeing so much of the world for myself has taught me about humanity. Are we mostly good or bad? Is the world heading in the right or wrong direction? Are we really so different? Travel gave me some emphatic answers to these questions.
The third section explores geopolitics. I’ve travelled to warzones, as well as some of the most autocratic and repressive nations on Earth. This section thus looks at what these experiences taught me about things like democracy, capitalism, and the state of the global international order. And finally, the books looks at happiness. And why we in the West – living in the freest, richest, most advanced civilisations in history – are so mopey. Why aren’t we happier? And could travel unearth modalities to make me happier personally, too?
I really hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed wiring it. Actually, I hope you enjoy reading it more than I enjoyed writing it. Because as most authors will know, parts of the book-writing process feels like rolling a massive boulder up a hill, only for it to roll to the bottom again in a crushing and demoralising blow. But it’s a struggle that’s most definitely been worth it.
The book is available in eBook, paperback, and hardback. For paperback and hardback versions, please search ‘The Travelling Ape’ on Amazon to find it.
Praise for the Travelling Ape:
‘At a time when it is easy to lose faith in mankind, this optimistic, kind, and ultimately celebratory book by Mike Richards is the perfect global antidote to restore that faith. Clearly written with a deep love for humanity, and with humility and appreciation to boot, this triumph of positivity takes you across latitudes, aiming to answer the fundamental question: who are we and what is our role in it all?
www.NomadMania.com – Directory and hub for the world’s most widely-travelled people.
‘Michael Richards has travelled widely and thoughtfully, accumulating not only miles but insights. The Travelling Ape is a heartfelt, illuminating, and frequently humorous. This examination of the human passion to see and understand the world.’
Thomas Swick, author The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them. Contributor for The New York Times Book Review, National Geographic Traveller, and the Smithsonian Magazine.’
‘Michael Richards has lovingly explored our planet like few others. His fun, inspiring (and sometimes alarming) adventures will persuade you that the urge to travel is in our DNA.’
Charles Wheelan, author of We Came, We Saw, We Left, and The Centrist Manifesto. Contributor for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
‘A wicked read by a restless globetrotter who manages to combine his own exciting experiences with in-depth info and thought-provoking commentary. This book will inspire any traveller to hit the road.’
Gunnar Garfors, author of 198: How I Ran out of Countries, and Elsewhere: A Journey to the World’s Least-Visited Countries. TEDx speaker, first person to visit every country in the world twice.
‘Written with humour, optimism, and light-hearted introspection, The Travelling Ape takes readers on a journey through the joys and challenges of travel itself. It’s a broadly upbeat look at the world that reminds readers that — although global society is not without its challenges — most people are kind, curious, and good. The Travelling Ape is a compelling travelogue that reminds us we’ve got more in common than we think.’
Kim Dinan, author of The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World, contributor for Backpacker Magazine.
‘At once a bible for us dromomaniacs and a persuasive polemic for why you should become one, Mike Richards’s impassioned travelogue is an inspired antidote to the petty nationalisms that divide us. This witty and highly readable Traveling Ape paves a much-needed way forward toward a cosmopolitan interconnectivity — without which, we’re surely all doomed.
Travis Jeppesen, author of See You Again in Pyongyang. Contributor for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
‘A journey across the globe and the mind. Mike weaves in politics, economics, and philosophy alongside rich anecdotes drawn from visits to over 150 countries. Mike makes you think about your travels, and inspires you to roam further. A travel book like no other.’
Matt Walker, author Europe United: 1 Football Fan. 1 Crazy Season. 55 UEFA Nations, contributor for the Guardian.
‘It is so reassuring and refreshing to discover that a world traveller, so much younger than me, has made the same central discoveries about our Larger Home: The world is better than you think; most people are kind, helpful, hospitable; we are all world-citizens who have more things in common than differences. Mike has been to over 155 countries, which in itself is a great achievement for his age. From Saudi Arabia to Japan, from Myanmar to Ethiopia, his adventures, observations, and studies are documented in this admirable book that oozes love for travel, cultures, the human race, and most importantly Learning’.
Nicos Hadjicostis, author of Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel, included in Business Insider’s ‘18 Travel Books to Feed Your Wanderlust’. Huffington Post contributor.
‘The Travelling Ape goes way beyond your typical ‘travel hack’ books. It brilliantly shows us the transformative power of travel, while intriguingly connecting geopolitics and personal growth. Mike’s storytelling is both amusing and thought-provoking, making the book an absolute delight for any wanderer seeking the true essence of their travel journeys.’
Freeman Fung, Global citizenship and TEDx speaker, and best-selling author of Travel to Transform: Awaken the Global Citizen in You and Thrive in the Modern World.
‘A truly engaging book, told with great humour. It gives a great understanding of what it’s really like to travel to off the beaten track destinations, as well as giving fascinating insight into geopolitics, the deeper meaning of travel, and much more.”
Lupine Travel, experts of off-the-beaten-track travel.
‘This book is both a joy and a tonic for anyone who has ever wondered about the value, or otherwise, of travel. Michael Richards, the self-styled ‘Travelling Ape,’ has visited over 150 countries, and his relentless positivity and curiosity about the world shines through on every page. His introspective travel memoir brims with humanity and happiness – a good thing, these days – and the writing zips along with humour and honesty. It’s a great read, I loved it.’
Jules Brown, author of The Born to Travel Collection: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life and Rough Guides contributor.
‘An excellent book. It doesn’t only tell travel stories, it explains how the world functions’
‘I found The Travelling Ape to be an incredibly insightful and entertaining travel narrative. Michael’s passion for adventure and desire to experience other cultures really comes through in his writing. The book is a unique combination that both educates and entertains. If I had my way, The Travelling Ape would be required reading in all secondary school/university geography and world history classes. It kindles a passion for learning about other places and will make the reader want to take a trip around the world.’
Greg Ellifritz, author of Choose Adventure: Safe Travel in Dangerous Places.
‘An important reminder to get out there and experience the world while you still can…A must-read for everyone who’s ever felt that unquenchable thirst to see the world up close and unfiltered…A fun and insightful romp around the globe!’
Christopher K Oldfield, author Dogs of Nam: Stories from the Road and Lessons Learned Abroad
‘In the Travelling Ape, Michael MacKay Richards takes us on an immersive journey, as he explores his own life during his visits to many different places and cultures. He writes in such a way that you feel you are with him during every step he takes, as well as feeling you benefit from what he has learnt along the way. This book is a beautifully honest observation of what we can learn from the world around us.’
Sarah Presley, author of A Practical Guide on How Meditation Can Take You From Overwhelm to An Inner Calm
‘For those of us who long for a deeper connection to the world through travel, this book is a must-read. Mike poetically blends stories from his travels with history, politics, and philosophy to get at the heart of what the world can teach us, and graciously shares these lessons with his readers – no plane ticket needed.’
Something in her Ramblings
‘An engaging and inspiring read. This book gives a humorous and truly honest reflection on travel, meditation, and life itself. Highly recommended.’
British School of Meditation