Despite enduring a string of heartbreaking losses in the same year, this former airman has transformed his life for the better—and he did it by quitting his job, selling all of his possessions, and traveling the world with his pet ferret.
25-year-old Charlie Hammerton was determined to change his life after he was left grieving the deaths of his best friend, mother, and adopted mom all in the same year.
His mom Jan died in March 2017 aged 53 after suffering from motor neurone disease; then his best friend Will Moss passed away aged 22 just a few months later from a suspected drug overdose. At the end of the year, his adopted mum Samantha passed away from a heart attack.
“It was horrible for me, but I didn’t want to get into a rut because of it all,” says Hammerton. “I did think about killing myself a couple of times because I didn’t know where to turn.
Living in Arnold, Nottinghamshire at the time, he decided to turn his back on a promising career and put almost all of his money into a globe-trotting adventure with his “best pal”: Bandit the rescue ferret.
“I was living in a nice flat, had a good job and had three cars. I had a lot of savings behind me and I was lucky enough to be very secure,” he added. “But it was all just ‘stuff’ to me and didn’t really mean anything. So I decided to get rid of the lot and set off with Bandit.”
Hammerton then quit his job and sold almost all his possessions—including his three cars. Collectively, he managed to drum up £15,000 ($19,500) for his dream trip, £5,000 of which he spent on a campervan.
Starting out in February 2018, Hammerton and Bandit ventured through Holland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain, and Italy.
The inseparable pair traveled for a total of 8 months to more than 25 towns and cities in 11 countries, all of which Hammerton documented on their public Facebook page.
His hilarious holiday album is full of snaps of Bandit posing in front of iconic landmarks—from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Colosseum in Rome.
“Traveling was the most amazing experience of my life and it was completely liberating,” said Hammerton. “We followed the sun across the world and camped under the stars in amazing places.
“It was beautiful and I spent it with my best friend,” he added. “I have less money now but I am much wealthier as a person.”
Hammerton rescued Bandit from an animal sanctuary in 2015—and the pair have been inseparable ever since. The little ferret even stayed with him at his military digs in Coningsby whilst Charlie was working for the Royal Air Force (RAF).
“He has seen me at my best and my worst and has always been with me,” says Hammerton. “Bandit has been with me through thick and thin.”
In addition to their cross-continental road tripping adventures, they have also raised awareness for different charities. The pair have walked across Hadrian’s Wall in aid of the motor neurone disease charity MND, and also skateboarded 40 miles across London in aid of a drug awareness charity.
In November 2018, Hammerton released a book about his travels called “Before Our Adventures”, which is now available on Amazon.
“The book is all about how you can take anything bad and turn it into something really good,” said Hammerton. “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 went through a really rough time and developed serious depression. I felt suicidal and just didn’t know what to do with myself,” he continued. “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 channeled the negative energy and turned it into something positive.”
Charlie now works in schools across the country teaching youngsters about how to build confidence, self-esteem, and outdoor living skills such as camping and bushcraft.