Have you heard of that show ‘Around the World for Free’? I hadn’t until a few days ago, and when I saw that it was ex-reality stars being filmed to travel, I wasn’t very impressed… until I found out the details: ‘Around the World for Free‘ (ATWFF) is a reality series that challenges an individual to get all around the world with absolutely no money and one cameraman in tow who directs and edits while on the move. They can only get their basic needs by using initiative and interacting with local guides and inhabitants.
O no, I hear you sigh, another reality series with random celebrities clinging on to their 15 minutes of fame?! Yeah, I am not an avid follower of reality TV but when you actually think about how challenging this is and there is genuinely no help form the television company or some poor harried PA running after them with a massive luxury filled backpack.

It began with host Alex Boylan who got around the world using a social networking site to aid his progress back in 2007. Director/editor/camera man extraordinaire, Zsolt Luka, documented the journey in 155 webisodes on the internet using 250 hours of high-definition video. Talk about incredible determination! The kindness of strangers enabled Boylan to visit sixteen countries on four continents over 159 days and through social networks, he got rides, boats and places to stay. It was the first live online interactive reality series.

No television networks would bite at the idea that Boylan pitched until they saw how successful, unique and awesomely interesting it was… the second series got nabbed by CBS television company.
“We were just really big fans of travel, but we were kind of sick of what we were seeing for travel,” Boylan says. “We wanted to create an experience where the people were with locals all the way… I’m not a host. The audience really is the host,” Boylan says, adding that it was peoples’ interactions with him online that determined where he went. It really demonstrates the power of social networking!! The audeince stepped up and helped through Boylan and Luka’s many tough times, where they genuinely thought they wouldn’t make it.

It is now on its third season with reality show star, Parvati Shallow (of Big Brother and The Amazing Race) who began her 100 day journey on July 7th 2011.

The USA, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Guyana, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, South Africa and Nambia are the countries she’s hit up so far. She’s twittering constantly to document her thoughts and experiences (follow her on twitter) and with the help of an online community providing tips, advice, messages and offers for rides and places to stay, she is set with just a backpack in her mission to explore the globe. Fans can follow Parvati on CBS.com every step of the way, and at the moment she’s just left Johannesburg where she visited Joburg Orphanage and is currently in Nambibia. The website enables you to track her journey and ‘Post Tips’. Log on to help her determine where to go and how to get there, and watch her adventure unfold on the website or on youtube.com.

The show makes a big deal of ensuring the audience knows how authentic and unstaged the show is. This means there is no script, no rules, no limits, no itinerary, no money…… and no security. Pavarti is the first female host and with only the camera man following her through numerous countries, where any unrest could occur and the badness of strangers could arise. Some have questioned whether it is safe for a woman to embark on such an unsure path in the big bad world. Yes, there are dangers in the world but reality check, SO many females travel alone, and with statistics proving that 80% of all travel decisions are made by women regardless of who they travel with, who funds it or where they go… a woman is the decision maker. Hopefully Pavarti will make the right decisions that keep her going on this road! I’ll leave it with the fact that yes, bad things can happen on the road, but with a little luck and help from friends across the globe who have registered in the CBS community, Pavarti Shallow will make it and prove that traveling against all odds can be successful and amazing.

Here’s the first webisode of Season 3 where Pavarti Shallow meets Alex and Jeff (from series 1 and 2) for tips and general chats about their adventures.

Finally, a reality show that puts the passion back into adventure and the real back into reality!


Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane