Confessions of a Travel Addict: Alex Bellini

Travel Addict Alex Bellini
Alex Bellini: Running From Addiction

Alex Bellini is an adventure junkie who’s addiction takes him around the world. Pushing his body to the limit on a never ending quest for the next high.

If you want to see what extreme addiction looks like, Alex Bellini is your man. He takes adventure travel to a whole new level.

Alex has been lusting for adrenaline in some pretty challenging places. He has no problem running across the United States, through the heat of the Sahara desert, or over Alaska’s icy landscape to satisfy his cravings.

Rowing a boat solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea? Sure! Oceans won’t stand in the way of his next fix. He writes about his superhuman powers (and how we can all harness them) on his blog.

He’s now planning to live alone on an iceberg for 12 months. Or at least until it melts. Welcome to the life of a hopeless addict.

Now Alex, I know this subject may be difficult to talk about. But you’re amongst friends here. Nothing that you say today will ever leave this room.

Share your darkest secrets with us, and let the healing begin…

When did you shoot-up with your first dose of wanderlust?

“It was long time ago, in 2000. Back then I was studying accounting at university. (Aren’t you surprised to hear this?) Well, to tell the truth my life wasn’t going that bad, I potentially had all I could ask for but, digging a little deeper, that wasn’t what I dreamed of when I was a young boy. So, I ended up quitting university to start wandering around looking for a way to satisfy my desire to live life at its full potential.”

How did your family & friends respond to your unconventional lifestyle?

“I grew up with a father who had a passion for deserts and motorbikes. When I was a kid, every fall, for a month or so, he used to ride his motorbike from Italy to Senegal, following the footsteps of the Paris-Dakar race. In 2000, the day I came home saying ‘I’m going to run the Marathon des Sables next year’ my father reacted saying ‘I’m coming along with you, I’ll be your support’. It wasn’t that easy to keep him home.

On the other hand, I believe my friends are still sitting at the same table, in the same pub, with the same pint of beer they were drinking when I told them what I wanted to do with my life, and I am pretty sure they are still asking themselves ‘why?’.”

Has your travel addiction changed you?

“Every single adventure, even the smallest one, has made me a better father and husband. Somehow, my addiction has allowed me to focus on the things that really matter for me.”

What’s your seediest travel vice?

“Whenever I travel… I pretend not to be Italian!”

Travel Addict Alex Bellini
Searching for His Next Fix

Can you tell me about your biggest travel regret?

“I think that, sometimes, I should take it easy and enjoy more all the strange situations I find myself in. Too often I don’t even take my eyes off the road. I have the tendency to be too focused on what I am doing.”

How do you fund your addiction? Armed robberies? Prostitution? Stealing copper wire?

“The funds come from sponsors, when I don’t have time to organize a bank robbery (just kidding!). Good sponsors are essential, not only economically speaking. Finding someone who shares your values, in fact, is even more important than money.
As for the rest, I earn my living doing lectures for big companies.”

Have you ever overdosed?

“To be completely honest, there are always moments in which I feel tremendously melancholic. Loneliness, remoteness… sometimes they make me sick. When that happens, I think about stop doing what I’m doing, go back home, have some rest surrounded by my wife and daughters, have fun with them and live like “normal” people do (oh my god, did I just say that?)… In those moments, I hate myself for having decided to leave them, but at the same time I bless those feelings because they make the thought of my return even sweeter.”

Do you find it hard relating to normal people who are clean & sober?

“Most of the time “normal” people (oh my god, did I say that again?) seem very curious to know more about my adventures, which is very good and nice. I spend a lot of time alone and, once I am back home, I love to share my experiences. It is hard to explain the reasons that push me to do what I do, but it’s even harder to make someone believe that s/he could do the same thing, if only s/he really wanted to.”

Travel Addict Alex Bellini
Flying High Above the Alps

Has your addiction got you into any trouble?

“Well… I’ve been arrested in Tangier (Morocco) because the Moroccan police believed I was a smuggler (I am not, I swear!), for some reason they didn’t believe my ‘ocean-rowing’ story. Plus, when I was rowing across the Atlantic, I ran out of food and I survived 5 days without eating before getting to a small archipelago in the middle of the ocean. And there was that time I survived a shipwreck in the Mediterranean… so, no, no troubles whatsoever!”

If someone wanted to get a little taste of your addiction, how do you recommend they start?

“I think my book Alone Across the Pacific Ocean is the best story I have ever written. The reason I like it so much is because it’s not only about “me”, but it’s also about my wife’s point of view. It is a love story, before being an adventure story.”

Do you ever think you’ll be able to kick the habit?

“Yes, sure. Well, I think so. What I know is that I’m not doing this because I don’t have other options… and there are many things I would love to do in the future. For instance, I’m a mental coach and I’d love to help top athletes in their quest to find their way to peak performance.”

How do we find you to stage an intervention?

“My website is, and you can find me on Twitter and Facebook too. You are more than welcome to share your thoughts and follow me on my next adventure! I’ll be living on the tip of an iceberg until it melts in 2015. See you there… don’t forget a coat!”

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Alex. I sincerely hope your powerful story can help others surrender to recover from this awesome devastating addiction.


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my journey.
Matthew Karsten
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18 thoughts on “Confessions of a Travel Addict: Alex Bellini”

  1. I love the way you set up this interview :)
    It really captures your attention and makes me want to find out more about Alex. Not to mention that picture is INTENSE!

  2. Um, wow! I can’t even imagine doing most of those things…but I’m glad someone did. I like being that armchair adventurer…Great post!

    • I love that Alex doesn’t call himself a runner, even though he’s run across the Unites States, Alaska, and the Sahara. Determination and motivation is pretty powerful stuff.

  3. The only thing better than Alex’s story are Matthew’s hilarious questions. Well done. I guess my decision to stop taking Malaria medication dulls in comparison to a Moroccan arrest!

    • Would have loved to hear the conversation between him and the police. “No, I really DID just row a boat across the ocean. Honest.” :D

  4. Wow. What a great interview. He seems slightly crazy and yet I certainly admire his dedication and commitment to going out and seeing the world!

  5. It’s amazing the things that people can accomplish. Very inspirational. I also give a lot of credit to your wife who obviously provides a lot of support. I could only imagine how strong she would have to be while you are on your adventures.

  6. Always great to read about Alex Bellini adventures! Very fun and interesting interview; I didn’t know he had children. :)

  7. Hi Matthew, your kindness and sympathy made the interview even funnier. Thank you for the great opportunity you gave me. I hope to see you soon and have a cup of tea, maybe on the iceberg! :)

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