A bushy travel beard can be a rite of a passage for the long term traveller, signifying the breaking free from the rigid conformities of office life in favour of the lawlessness that is a long-term backpacker’s LIFE. Laurent ASKS Stevo from the Shameless Traveler to share what he’s learned about growing a beard while on the road.
How long have you been growing your bad-ass beard?
Well Mr. Noonan, I’ve had a beard since I was 24, not this magnificent, but a respectable beard nonetheless. My friends and I could not grow beards, so one July we decided no one would shave until New Years Eve or they would get an eyebrow shaved off. Six years later all of us still have beards and both eyebrows.
What or who inspired you to grow it so long?
This is a great question, and I’d have to say Mankind in general. The brethren of man-itude. The mecca of machismo. So many great men have had beards of superior length and gerth that it is not unthinkable to want to be like them. A few right off the bat: Leonard DaVinci, Abraham Lincoln, Hank Williams Jr., Sasquatch, all winners, everyone of them.
Do you appreciate being called ‘bush-face’?
You know as well as anyone that Bush-Face is my Tribal name given to me by my Native leader Moist Beak. So it is not only and honor, but a priviledge to carry such a title.
How does the beard go over with strangers in the various countries you visit? And the ladies?
This is a great question, because the beard is an awesome gift and a terrible curse. It inspires power, intrigue, but also fear. I’ve noticed I don’t get hassled on the street as much when the beard is at what I like to call “Max Cap.” I guess would-be robbers are more terrified of getting criminalized by me. As for the ladies, well I don’t kiss and tell, but I will say this, the Asians hate it and the Russians worship it. Next question.
What are the pros and cons of all that facial hair while on the road?
The first and most obvious pro is I have a kick ass and awesome beard that drips raw power and the stench of musk and seduction only Sean Connery could understand. The beard keeps me warm on lonely nights, warm in the winter, keeps my lower face from sunburn, I can store pencils and small notes in it, and usually just cut right in front of people in line without too many questions. However, there are setbacks, losing entire bites of food in your beard and not finding them for days, you’d think they’d still taste good, but they don’t. Also, I’ve had to figure out new ways of sneezing because it just gets completely absorbed by my massive mustache and I look like a boxer that was just drinking out of a lake. And I think a pigeon tried to nest in it once, I’m not sure though, because it could have been a sparrow.
You sometimes work while on the road to fund your travels. Is the beard a problem within professional environments? How do your ESL students react to your beard?
Well, yeah, the beard is completely taboo, especially among the Asian community. When it is short and well trimmed I can get away with it, but right now I look like an electrocuted Jesus, and parents don’t really take well to an electrocuted Jesus teaching their children. In fact this sweet beard has an expiration date. I’m teaching in South Korea at the end of July and I’m sad to say this baby is going to get shaved off.
Did you participate in Movember?
I’m actually really glad you asked this, and taking a departure from my usual not serious self, supporting cancer research has become and extremely big part of my life. I lost a close friend to cancer at the age of 24 and one of my very best friends, only 30, is fighting cancer right now. So yes, I am a huge supporter of Movember and encourage everyman that can muster a whisker to do the same. Also, I’m trying to pull together sponsors to ride a bicycle across the USA to raise money for cancer research next year, I’ll keep you updated on that.
When you’re travelling, is it less work to grow a beard than it is to keep your face clean-shaven?
Ohhh man, it is wayyyyy easier to have a beard. There is an endless list of reasons it’s easier, but let me sum it up like this. Is it more work to have an extra finger or one less hand, so yeah, the beard is like and extra finger, a really sexy extra finger.
Does the beard ever talk to you?
Some people say listen to your heart, I’ve always believed it’s much more beneficial to listen to my beard. For example the other day my heart was telling me there was a really interesting girl at the other table in my hostel I should talk to, however my beard notified me she was about to leave to go sight-seeing and she had half a pitcher of beer and 6 buffalo wings on her table and I hadn’t eaten lunch in 15 minutes. Man, that was a close one, beard saved me again.
What’s the most interesting food you’ve got caught in your beard?
Wow, there are just so many, but caught in my beard. Hmmm, I had a piece of sheep testicle, no lie you can check it out on my blog, caught in my mustache at the Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing, China. That was a very liberating experience for me, it liberated me from most of my dignity.
Do you have anything words of wisdom for other travellers thinking of growing their own beard?
A beard is a lot like the moose head on your wall or the stuffed bear in your living room, except without all the killing. It shows that you went on an epic adventure, you let yourself become one with the world and instead of refusing your true self by shaving you decided to embrace the fur without the constraints of society. In fact society is a lot like that bear or moose, you faced it one on one as a MAN, but instead of a gun you had a beard, and unlike a gun a beard never runs out of bullets. When you go home to your family, yes you may terrify them with your new overwhelming pelt of awesomeness, but you will also awe them with the growth that represents a timeline of your adventure on the road. The greater the beard, the greater the adventure. Whoa, I think I blacked out there for a minute, did you get all that?
to follow Stevo’s adventures, visit his online blog: the Shameless Traveler