‘I hit rock bottom’: Tradie's heartbreak turning point
THE year 2014 was not kind to qualified tradesman Adam Valastro.
Mr Valastro was working more than 70 hours a week, and while the money was good, it did not fix the constant state of depression he found himself in.
He would often turn to drugs and alcohol to fill the void.
But when he received the terrible news that two of his colleagues had suddenly taken their own lives in the same week, Mr Valastro booked a spontaneous trip to South America that would change his life, and the lives of others, forever.
With a goal to spend at least six months overseas, he was disheartened to discover he had churned through a third of his allocated budget after only a month abroad.
Mr Valastro then approached the hostel he was staying in and traded his skills in return for food, accommodation and local experiences.
Through trading his skills, he was able to travel to 11 countries with a total spend of less than $12,000.
After he returned to Australia in 2017, Mr Valastro turned his simple, yet innovative idea into the Travelling Tradies platform, which aims to deliver international travel experiences in exchange for skills such as general house maintenance and gardening.
Travelling Tradies hopes to raise $30,000 which will go towards creating a basic database and web platform to facilitate the global exchange program.
Mr Valastro is also on the look out for business partners to help bring the platform to life.
"A lot of people in the mining and construction industry face the isolation of being stuck in the same place, doing the same job," he said.
"What we're trying to do is provide a new experience to revitalise the mind, body and soul."
Research shows people who work in the construction industry are twice as likely to take their own lives compared to the general Australian population.
A 2018 Travelling Tradies survey of more than 100 tradies found that the toxic "macho" culture, feeling stuck, working long weeks and not making time for themselves or their families had contributed to feeling burnt-out, uninspired and depressed.
After hitting rock bottom, Mr Valastro said travel had shifted his perspective on life.
"It changed my understanding of what was important," he said.
"Everybody wants to travel and Travelling Tradies is a way to do it without spending a fortune."
While the platform is not available yet, those wanting to get involved can still sign up to the Travelling Tradies database.
Click here to view the Travelling Tradies crowd-funding campaign.
For help, phone beyondblue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.