7 min 37 sec

Seismic Explorer Shakes Up Backpacking in Kenya

A former engineer turns a 3-month backpacking trip into three side hustles that make exploring Kenya more accessible for travelers.
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What It's About

An oil and gas industry job leads to global travel—and travelers need backpacks.

Business Model
Skills Required
Travel Savviness & Content Writing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Between blogging, gear hunting, train ticket selling, and his full-time job, Leo started to feel a bit stretched. Gear sourcing at local markets began to take up too much time, and after a bit of online searching, he realized that he could order items on demand and have them shipped to his customers. And he didn’t even need to go to the market to get it.

As Leo says, "Nowadays the demand is high because there are almost no players in this niche. And that is what I want to capitalize on and use to grow my side hustle."

Fun Fact

Kenya has over 54 national parks and wildlife reserves, which are home to lions, buffalo, rhinoceroses, leopards, giraffes, and elephants. The elephants that live in Tsavo National Park are distinguishable by their red-brown (not gray) color, which is from the red volcanic soil in the park.

Notes from Chris

Episode 483

When you think of classic backpacking destinations, the first places that tend to come to mind might include: Thailand, Australia, Europe, or Central America. But, as Leo Gichuki discovered, sometimes it’s the journeys off the beaten path that are the most rewarding.

After graduating from college in Kenya with a degree in electrical engineering, Leo found the opportunity to begin a career in seismic exploration for an oil and gas company. His new job gave him the chance to spend two years visiting countries across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East as he worked in oil rigs across the world. He had blocks of time he needed to spend at work, but that also left him with long weeks of free time—almost like a paid vacation. He took this as the perfect opportunity to discover new areas and dive into different cultures.

Traveling outside of Africa was relatively new for Leo, but it opened his mind to new perspectives and sparked a passion for exploration.

But in the oil industry, with ups there must be downs. When the price of oil began to plummet, Leo was laid off from his job. He was initially at a loss. His skills in seismic exploration weren’t applicable in Kenya’s job market, and he had no practical experience as an electrical engineer.

The one thing he did know? He was still passionate about traveling. So he took out a map of Africa, looked at the vast expanse and decided to set off on three months of travel. He’d worry about the details later.

It was during this three month trip of discovering both his home country and continent that he decided to blog about his journey, in the hope that other people might be inspired to explore it too. He began to write posts so that he’d remember all the key details and saved them so he could set up a website and publish them when he got home.

Kenyan Backpacker began slowly as Leo used a process of trial and error to get his website built and optimized for search engines. Start-up costs were minimal because he was determined to learn as much about blog set-up as he could on his own, but he invested about $40 to cover his domain name and hosting. Now, Leo averages more than $550 a month from revenue streams like advertising, train ticket, and gear sales on Kenyan Backpacker. This is seasonal, with traffic tending to spike in the spring as people begin searching for their summer travel plans.

  After one side hustle and two side, side hustles, Leo is still motivated by the simple idea of earning additional income to do, and talk about something he loves. Using his website and side hustles to connect with people from different countries and giving them valuable advice is something that Leo says he never wants to take for granted. He hopes to turn Kenyan Backpacker into his full-time job, and see where the adventure takes him… it sounds like a future worth exploring!


  • Kenyan Backpacker: Adventure is on the horizon, and Kenya is waiting—learn more about traveling the African landscape over on Leo's blog!
  • Wordpress: Leo used Wordpress to setup Kenyan Backpacker, and here you can learn how to install your own Wordpress site in 5 minutes

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"The day I made my first sale of backpacks, I decided that I needed to celebrate. I had nine jackets from a side hustle that didn’t pan out, so I put them in a bag and delivered them to a local orphanage. I was so happy and excited, and this seemed like the perfect way to share that feeling with other people."
—Leo Gichuki #SideHustleSchool

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Chris Guillebeau