This Man Is Taking A Never-Ending Gap Year Thanks To YouTube

    How would you like to make money by travelling the world and recording what you see?

    Louis Cole appears to have the greatest job in the world. The 31-year-old travels the world making videos of his experiences, and has acquired hundreds of thousands of fans in the process.

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    Cole, from Cobham, runs the Fun for Louis YouTube channel, which at the time of writing has over 1.1 million subscribers.

    He told BuzzFeed News he makes the videos of his travels to hopefully inspire people to step out of their comfort zones, pursue their passions, and "dream a bit".

    His clips end with such thought-provoking questions as: “How will you live your adventure?”

    This is what he got up to in 2014:

    View this video on YouTube

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    And this is what he got up to the year before:

    View this video on YouTube

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    The 2014 compilation has been watched almost 200,000 times in a couple of days, while the 2013 version has received almost 2 million views.

    Cole has managed to turn his lifelong passion for travel into a career, visiting exotic locations around the world and meeting inspiring people along the way.

    Speaking from New Zealand, where he will be until next month, when he travels to Florida before hopefully moving on to Cuba and the Caribbean, the 31-year-old revealed that about 50% of his travels are sponsored, while the rest is self-financed through the money his YouTube channel now generates.

    Cole said he wants to use his channel not just for pleasure-seeking but as a platform to highlight amazing stories and projects going on around the world.

    While his videos include friends sharing the adventures, Cole, who is single, admits it can be difficult.

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    "It has caused issues with forming meaningful relationships," Cole admitted. "If I do meet someone they would have to be into travel as well."

    He said he would like a family at some stage in the future but doesn't want to settle down in the traditional sense – he's keen to find a solution that wouldn't mean giving up everything he now does.

    Such is his passion for travel and dislike for cold weather that Cole even rejected his family's requests for him to come home at Christmas.

    His devotion to travelling has seen him gain a large fanbase.

    As well as the million-plus people who subscribe to his YouTube channel, he has 550,000 followers on Twitter, almost 800,000 on Instagram, and almost 300,000 fans across his Facebook pages.

    The figures make him one of the most high-profile YouTubers in Britain.

    As a result, Cole is good friends with the other major British figures on the video-sharing platform, including Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) and Alfie Deyes.

    Before his travels, Cole ran the popular Food for Louis channel, which saw him conduct extreme eating challenges.

    (That's a raw deer penis on the left and pig eyeballs on the right.)

    The channel proved controversial, with stunts such as eating a live goldfish and 10 blended dead mice attracting criticism.

    He told The Guardian he started the channel to see if he could "get a million hits". This video of him eating a live tarantula in October 2012 has so far been watched over 2.5 million times.

    View this video on YouTube

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    He told the newspaper: "I guess I enjoy riling people up a bit and challenging them to the reality that to eat meat, they have to kill an animal. If they're genuinely vegetarian then they have more of a valid point, but one girl once did this long rant to me about how evil it all was, and then said I should just have gone to McDonald's."

    Food for Louis saw Cole come under sustained criticism for the eating stunts, with the RSPCA even launching an investigation into his actions.

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    Today he claims he has taken on people's concerns but maintains that what he did was not cruel.

    "I did think it was silly and had no real purpose, more me challenging myself," he told BuzzFeed News. "It was almost like a dare thing, how far can you push yourself, how far could I push my mental abilities.

    "I never wanted it to be about the creatures being killed – that wasn’t the entertainment."

    Cole admitted that the videos are not something he is proud of, but said he sees Food for Louis as a stepping stone to what he is doing now, as it was through the channel that he started to meet other YouTubers and travel the world.

    With regards to the future, Cole said he is happy with the opportunities YouTube provides him, but that he wouldn't be opposed to expanding his brand.

    Cole knows how lucky he is to conduct this seemingly endless gap year and said he owes his audience everything.

    Meanwhile his journey shows no signs of coming to an end any time soon, with YouTube conventions in America and global travel plans all booked for the first few months of this year.

    Cole appears destined to wander the planet for as long as he wants – as long as his thousands of fans remain interested...

    Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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