Tyson Mayr had never been in a plane until he turned 22. Four years and more than 50 countries later, he believes he has the credentials to be known as the “Chief World Explorer”.
Back in 2009, Mayr was offered a promotion at work and told his boss he would start in the new role after a three-week holiday overseas – his very first.
He headed off with his younger brother and mate Dean Hammermeister to Thailand, Mexico and Brazil. However, their vacation turned into a globe-trotting adventure, and now Mayr has been to every continent, except Antarctica.
The 26-year-old, originally from Warwick, has also amassed more than 17,000 followers on social media, with his Naked Traveller pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram providing interesting snapshots from his overseas trips.
“The first year was definitely partying,” Mayr said.
However, things changed when he began to volunteer in South America. His first charitable experience was in the Columbian city of Cali, where he taught disadvantaged children English and played games with them.
These days, he is an ambassador for non-profit organisation RainCatcher, and carries water filters with him to install in rural wells. The filters have allowed some areas to have fresh drinking water for the first time.
“There were villages we'd come across where we'd see children drinking from a stream which was so polluted with faeces and rubbish,” he said.
“I remember seeing two children drinking and two metres away there was a pig going to the toilet.”
Mayr is one of 50 finalists in the running for a $100,000 dream job, Chief World Explorer, which will require the winner to travel the world and film their adventures for 12 months. He is the only Australian in the running for the position being offered by “vacation matchmaking” company Jauntaroo.
Speaking to Fairfax Media from Los Angeles, Mayr said his next destination would be Las Vegas. Part of that trip will involve meeting up with Hammermeister and helping one of his biggest online fans, a Canadian quadriplegic named Alan Vuong, to tick off a few items on his bucket list.
Having eaten through his savings in about a year, Mayr said he now financed his travel through appearing in television commercials, modelling and freelance magazine writing.
He said he often manages to live off just $20 a day.
“It isn't that hard when you've sold everything and you're travelling. Your only expense is accommodation and food. People back home are dealing with bills and mortgages,” he said.
Mayr admitted being away from home hadn't always been pleasant. He's been held up at gunpoint four times, cracked three ribs while snowboarding and he still said he misses his mum's cooking.
Next year, he plans to attend the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, build schools in Guatemala and head to Uganda to install more water filters.
And while he plans on settling back home one day, it's still some way off.
“I was raised on a farm which didn't have TV reception and the first time I went on a plane was for work,” he says.
“The whole travelling thing, it has changed me as a person. I want to help others get the same out of it.
“I am never going back to a normal job.”
To view Tyson Mayr's entry for Chief World Explorer competition, visit Jauntaroo's website.