Naomi Stobart is no ordinary young woman.
Uninterested in the material and free from the endless 9-5 grind, Naomi has made the decision to ditch a conventional life in search of more meaningful. A brave choice that has seen her sell most of her possession in order to travel the world and seek out new adventures.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Naomi to talk about her adventurous lifestyle, choosing memories over the material, her favourite skylines, and much more.
Q: I just saw an Instagram post of you scaling a waterfall. What are you up to at the moment?
A: This photo was a couple of weeks ago when I was travelling Thailand. I’m super impulsive; all my trips so far have usually been booked a day before flying so I try to live in the now as much as possible. I rarely know what I’m doing tomorrow and when I do have to plan in advance it gives me anxiety (laughs)!
But as of now, I’m back in the U.K. for at least a month trying to get my driving licence so I can live the camper van life whilst travelling around South America next year. I’m also attempting to train for an ironman. Yep, another impulsive obsession but who knows I could be on a plane to Japan in the morning on a different adventure all together! No plan is the best plan.
Q: Have you been this adventurous since you were a child?
A: I actually trained as a dancer which meant I was in a dance studio 6 days a week for 18 years of my life. I missed out on adventuring as a teenager so I guess I’m making up for that lost time now. Nevertheless, I would definitely say I have always been adventurous and creative-minded, I’m just acting on it a lot more recently!
Q: It is natural for us to climb and explore when we are young. Yet somewhere along the way most of us lose that – or it is driven out of us. Why do you think you kept hold of this spirit?
A: I met a great friend who introduced me to climbing and it honestly made me feel like a child again. I think deep down everyone’s still a kid at heart, so chasing anything that makes you feel that same kind of freedom is always good!
Q: There was a recent post of you in Bangkok, Thailand where you mentioned that you were climbing with another female. Tell us about that experience and why it was special to you?
A: We had just met a local climber who offered to show us some of the best spots in Bangkok. It was our last day in the country, we flew in early, managed to climb a good few roofs without any hassle and with great company.
Most of my friends are male and 9/10 times I climb with males, which is cool but it makes climbing with a female feel special. It kinda feels empowering you know, strong independent women and all that jazz.
Q: I should note that you have an extremely underrated Instagram page – in terms both of the images you post and your observations about life. You once commented on people’s misconceptions about parts of the Middle East, what new perspectives of life has you travelling and exploring given you?
A: Aww, Thank you!
When you travel you realise the world’s a very big place and you as a human being are very small and irrelevant in the grand schemes of things. Getting out of your comfort zone and taking on new challenges and adventures will only enrich your life, that you truly have to live for you and nobody else.
I feel like you grow as a person every trip you take and you learn to prioritise what really matters. It lets you get rid of all the unnecessary things we all worry about in life. Also, a lot of people/cultures are happy with way less than what you have – making every experience so humbling.
Q: I’m sure you have a ton of incredible stories from your time travelling, but is there a standout/fun one you can share with us?
A: Hmm, there are so many! I was living with a local Bedouin called Zidan in the desert, one evening it was just the two of us sat in his cave, smoking a shisha and drinking tea under the stars. He was teaching me everything there is to know about the stars. From finding your way when lost in the desert, to telling which month it is. He went on to tell me the most insane stories whilst we watched about 20 shooting stars above us.
Written down, it doesn’t sound as impressive but it honestly was such a surreal moment sat with someone who had lived a life the complete opposite to mine, away from westernised, brain-washed society. It just felt magical!
Q: Back in September, you said that you had sold most of your belongings and were living only off a small selection of clothes. Why did you make this decision and is this stripped back way of life something you can see yourself continuing?
A: Without getting too deep, I was stuck in a crippling depression for a long time and when I was finally able to come out the other side, I felt like I had just woken up for the first real time. I started to truly learn who I was and wanted to be and that everyone around me was consuming endless amounts of things to impress people that they don’t even know.
I’ve forever craved freedom and I wanted to cut all ties with anything that I felt was tying me down, in which materialism was one of them! It’s the best decision I ever made. Taking away that extra daily thought of what to wear is very freeing! I believe we should all spend our money on memories over the material. I mean, who knows, one day I might need to live a lifestyle where I can’t get away with wearing a hoodie and trainers everyday but for now it definitely works for me.
Q: The media and a lot of the public complain about young people taking drugs, binge drinking or even spending too much time on video games. Do you feel your lifestyle brings a better ‘high’ than those activities?
A: I think it’s very easy for my generation and up coming generations to get drawn into that lifestyle because it’s just ‘the norm’ these days. Especially the younger generation now because they have actually been born into this video game lifestyle.
I think a lot of people use drugs/alcohol for escapism from reality and to fit in with their peers, but I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t attached to that lifestyle once upon a time. I understand it takes a lot of courage to escape from that. I could possibly still be living that life if it hadn’t made me hit rock bottom.
I wouldn’t compare the ‘high’, but I would definitely say I feel extremely more powerful, energised and confident when travelling the world and being so close to nature and adrenaline-driven actives than I ever did down my local pub – but each to their own. Whatever makes you happy.
Q: A group of ‘urban explorers’ were recently on the evening news for a court case. Do you ever worry or have doubts about what you do? And what would your response to doubters be?
A: I’m pretty outgoing and carefree. If I’m being totally honest, I guess I should worry a little about what I’m doing. I think we all have people doubting us which ever life you choose to lead so you might aswell just do you anyway, right? The less I care about other people’s opinions, the happier I become!
Q: Do you have a favourite skyline or view from your time exploring so far?
Recently in Bangkok, the skyline was pretty incredible! Although, my home city of London will always be my favourite. There’s no place like home!
Q: What do you hope the future holds for you in 2019 and beyond? Any places you dream travelling to?
I dream of travelling the whole world. The list is never ending. Although, South America is definitely up there for 2019 along with Japan, Mongolia and Israel. I hope 2019 just brings more magical memories with magical people and you never know… maybe a completed ironman!