Former high-flier finds new route on €5 a day
Published 28/01/2012 | 05:00
HE was once a high-flying businessman with a multi-million euro empire.
But Chris O'Hara from Artane, Co Dublin, came crashing down to earth with a bang when his companies went to the wall three years ago.
He's now taking the road less travelled and packing up his 2002 Chevi Van for a road trip through Canada, the US and Alaska in April -- while living off a paltry €5 a day.
During the heady days of the Celtic Tiger, Chris says he was on the road to nowhere and was overly fixated with profit margins and the trappings of wealth.
Speaking at the Holiday World Show at the RDS in Dublin, Chris revealed how he felt unfulfilled and suffered various health problems as a result of money worries.
"I set up franchises in the catering sector -- the businesses were turning over millions of euro. I was trying to create a business empire which I thought would bring me happiness, but brought nothing but misery and pain and, ultimately, it all unravelled in 2009," he explained.
"Because of all the stress I got alopecia and I had a lot of health problems. One day I just said 'no more, I can't do it any longer'. But now I'm absolutely free; there's no one to tell me what to do."
After a successful road trip around Europe in 2009 and west Africa in 2010, he's now gearing up for his next challenge -- to drive through 32 countries over two and a half months living off just €5 a day.
"On my Euro trip in 2009 I passed through 65 major cities in Europe and it cost me only three and a half thousand euro. Five euro isn't a lot to live off, but it will take care of basic necessities. It's a million miles away from how I used to live and it's completely changed my life. I've never felt more liberated.
"I'm leaving on April 26 this year and our first stop is Toronto. I'll have a BBC cameraman called Gareth McGuire who'll film my travels for a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary called 'One Man and His Van'. We're hopeful of making a pit stop at the 'Ellen' show in the US," he explained.
"I was told by somebody that if you strip yourself of all personal belongings -- things we all believe personify who we are -- and go off on an adventure like this you'll truly find out who you are and what life is all about and it's completely true."
More than 15,000 people descended on the RDS yesterday to attend the annual holiday exhibition which showcases what companies have to offer both at home and abroad.
The exhibition finishes tomorrow.