Photo by Tino Soriano.

Photo by Tino Soriano for National Geographic


Name:  Drew Gilbert

Age:  38

Occupation:  Sometimes Reluctant Nomad.  Artist.  Filmmaker.  Stay-at-home-Dad.  Partner of Christine Gilbert, founder of Almost Fearless.  One of the 2014 National Geographic Travelers of the Year.  Hammock enthusiast.

Location:  Somewhere in the Northeast United States.

Q:  How do you define risk?

Drew:  As I am currently visiting my parents for the first time, I currently define risk as “anything my mom worries about.” Which is to say, everything. I seem to be genetically predisposed towards worry and what possible horrible death awaits at every turn. I’ve slowly trained it out of me to a huge degree, but I skew towards “THE SKY IS FALLING” by nature.

Q:  Do you consider yourself a risk-taker? Why or why not?

Drew:  I consider myself a curious rule-follower, not really a risk-taker at all. It took me about 30 years of living to get my first stitches, I’ve never broken a bone.  But I do WANT to experience new things and I enjoy testing myself. I am the oldest of three kids and was always aware of my reputation as a sweet, rule following kid.  So I think I grew to try hard to live up to that. My parents aren’t risk takers at all either, so it was an easy thing to feel responsible to keep up.

Q:  You and your wife left the states to be full-time nomads.  How did Christine convince you to drop everything and travel the world?

Drew:  We came up with the idea mutually, really. I’d like to say it was purely that I just trust Christine implicitly, but the truth is she just moves so quickly whenever we decide on something, where I will mull over things and do everything slowly. She simply moved towards the goal so quickly and took charge of all of the steps, it was easy to get on board.

Q:  How do you deal with fear?

Drew:  Two very different ways. Occasionally, fear will give me a jolt of adrenaline that brings clarity.  Then, I will calmly make decisions and move towards fixing whatever the problem might be. The other type of fear I tend to have is general anxiety over imagined future problems. I guess that’s a type of fear? That is paralyzing and debilitating. Sadly I deal with that far more often than I do the first.

Q:  What do you think you’d be doing if you and Christine hadn’t headed abroad?

Drew:  I’ve never been asked that. I have no real idea. Maybe once we realized Christine still wasn’t happy after climbing the corporate ladder, we may have set to the west coast and I might have tried getting into television or video game animation, maybe looked into doing voice over work, something more satisfying for me to do so Christine could write fiction or create in some way that was satisfying to her. The unhappiness with her job would have been the same, so any choice would probably involve Christine seeking some new thing, finding some way for us both to be satisfied.

Q:  Are there any risks you regret not taking?

Drew:  Not me. I feel like I have taken lots of risks at this point in my life, but they basically all feel like they have been done on my terms, and therefore feel less like a blind leap and more of an adventure I am on where I have a great map and all the supplies I need to do it.

Q:  What do you hope the kids learn about risk-taking–from you? From Christine?

Drew:  I think rule-following is a little overrated. My main hope is that we raise emotionally flexible, resilient children. I can’t teach them much about risk, but I hope I don’t stand completely in their way of taking any. I hope Christine imparts an ability to take a leap smartly. I’ll give them their sweet and charming dispositions.

You can learn more about Drew on his website (http://www.drewgilbert.com) or follow along with his and Christine’s adventures on Almost Fearless.

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