When 25-year-old Charlie Hammerton lost his best friend, mum and adopted mum in the same year, he started to suffer from depression.
So the RAF airman quit his job and sold everything in a bid to feel more positive about life and to give himself space to deal with his grief.
Charlie, from Cornwall, decided he wanted to travel the world and his pet ferret became his choice of companion.
He said: ‘I went through a really rough time and developed serious depression.
‘A chain of bad things had happened to me and I had good reason to feel really miserable about my life.
‘But I decided that was not what I wanted to be, I didn’t want this to define me. I sold the lot and just took off. It was the making of me.
‘I channelled the negative energy and turned it into something positive.’
He rescued the ferret named Bandit from an animal sanctuary in 2015 and the pair have been the best of friends ever since.
The little mammal even stayed with him at his military digs in RAF Coningsby while Charlie was working for the RAF.
The duo travels together in a campervan that Charlie bought after selling his three cars and other possessions which helped him drum up £15,000.
Starting out in February 2018, Charlie and Bandit ventured from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Holland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and Italy on their European road trip.
The pair visited more than 25 towns and cities in 11 countries and Charlie documented the adventure on a Facebook page Adventures With The Bandit.
‘I have less money now but I am much wealthier as a person,’ says Charlie.
‘Travelling was the most amazing experience of my life and it was completely liberating. We followed the sun across the world and camped under the stars in amazing places.’
Charlie’s mum Jan died in March 2017 after suffering from motor neurone disease, then his best friend passed away aged 22 just a few months later.
At the end of the year his adopted mum Samantha passed away after a heart attack.
To give himself some space to deal with the grief, Charlie decided to quit his career and go on a globe-trotting adventure with Bandit.
His adventures have included road trips to raise awareness for different charities.
The pair walked across Hadrian’s Wall in aid of motor neurone disease charity, MND, and also skateboarded 40 miles across London in aid of a drug awareness charity.
‘It was horrible for me but I didn’t want to get into a rut because of it all,’ added Charlie.
‘The trip was completely liberating and I really did have an amazing experience. I needed to just go out and do something for me.’
He added: ‘We visited some incredibly scenic places and camped next to some of the most famous places in the world.
‘It was incredible to do it with Bandit. He has seen me at my best and my worst and has always been with me.
‘Bandit has been with me through thick and thin.’
In November 2018, Charlie released a book inspired by his travels, Before Our Adventures, which is available to buy on Amazon.
He said: ‘The book is all about how you can take anything bad and turn it into something really good.
‘Everyone has the right and the ability to do that.
‘It’s easy to get stuck in a rut but there’s no need to. I feel so much better for what I did.’
Charlie now works in schools across the country teaching youngsters lessons on how to build confidence, self-esteem and outdoor living skills, such as camping and bushcraft.
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