Aren’t we all dreaming at some point of leaving everything behind and traveling the world? I’m sure we all play with this thought multiple times in our lives, but only very few actually do it. And that makes sense, to be honest. Giving up your current life, even if it’s a bad one, creates anxiety, insecurity and other uncomfortable feelings many thinks aren’t worth the risk.
I have traveled all over the world and didn’t know ahead of time what to expect. I thought creating a website was what would give me financial stability while being abroad, but soon I realised that wasn’t the most important factor. What you really need is to have your own goals and face your fears. Being a real traveler, not a tourist, really pushed me to face those fears and, most importantly, myself. When you are out on the road on your own you face who you really are, you find yourself and who you want to become. It is a journey that pushes you in different directions.
I have re-joined the TLR Family recently, after I had been among the first members back in 2016. At one of TLR’s community events, also known as TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday), I had the pleasure to share my lessons learned after 4 years of traveling the world. Let’s get started.
You are never alone
In 2016 life was consuming me. My work was a burden and created this unbearable pressure … and I let it happen. The frightening thought, which wouldn’t stop spinning around in my mind, was to end up all alone. I told myself “Enough is enough!” and bought a plane ticket to Cuba. My fear of being alone vanished soon. Already on the flight, I met 2 people, who offered me help, even though I just bumped into them minutes ago. There is more: Even before that, at the airport, I met a guy, who I ended up traveling for 3 weeks. By facing your fears you find solutions.
Money is not a problem
Some people are held back from travelling because they believe that money is a necessity. However, I’ve learned that money is not that important. You can travel cheaply on a budget, with no money at all or earn some along the way. When I arrived in Cuba I had a total of €350 in cash and €300 in my bank account. After covering some expenses from “my former life” back in Spain, I was left with as good as nothing. Despite having my website up and running, I still didn’t make enough money to cover my cost. I found the life-saving website Workaway, a platform for holiday workers and volunteers to help out with things like working on a farm, painting a house or maintaining a garden; the possibilities are endless. You are expected to contribute a pre-arranged amount of time in exchange for food and lodging, which is provided by the host.
At that moment, I would have had just enough money to go back to Spain, but I bravely decided to keep traveling and go to the USA. Everything was crazily expensive, but thanks to Workaway I was able to find a family, who helped me find work in Miami. After the first weeks at my new gig, selling my car in Spain and one of my websites, I ended up with approximately €8.000. You probably start seeing a pattern, but for me it was a real lesson learned: Sometimes the only solution is to face your fears.
Have a plan A, B and C
Your number one plan, otherwise called your plan A, might just work out fine. Or it won’t. Before I had planned to move on to Georgia, my Workaway hosts in Miami decided to kick me out one day earlier than agreed upon. For no reason at all. Ironically, I ended up camping in front of the Hilton hotel and experienced one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. Don’t take anything for granted and either have or don’t be afraid to find a plan B or, if necessary, even a plan C.
It’s easy to look at the above situation and only see the negative side of it. “Oh my God, I got kicked out!”, was only one of the dark thoughts racing through my head. However, drowning in self pity is not going to help you in any way. Even though it’s easier said than done, staying positive and moving forward will override negativity, every time. I would probably never have seen that stunning sunrise I told you about, if they hadn’t kicked me out. Always look on the bright side!
Trust your instincts
If you don’t know the language, have no people to lean on or are not familiar with the culture, the only thing you can really trust is your own instincts. This might sound hard and overwhelming to even imagine, but once you are out in the open on your own you will realise that opening up your mind to trust your instincts is a key strategy for survival.
Keep on going
Let me give you an example of how I kept going by telling you a story. As I mentioned above, my trip took me to Georgia, and I remember arriving late at night. I texted the contact person I had previously contacted via Workaway, but got no response. I called 4 to 5 times, but no one picked up. Georgia has one of the highest crime stats in the states. I started to get a bit nervous and asked myself “What should I do now?”. “Is all this hassle really worth it? Should I keep going or give up?”. Staying positive and trusting my instincts is what has gotten me this far to begin with, so I stuck to that strategy. I waited. I knew something was going to work out, I had faith. After various hours, which felt like an eternity, my Workaway host finally called me back and apologised. He had simply forgotten to pick me up. Eventually, I got to my destination and it all worked out. Thanks to deciding that I would keep going, I started working for my new hosts, who were passionate bikers, and I even got a motorbike myself in exchange for 100 hours of work, that I loveling called Stella.
Have a mission
Traveling gives you the opportunity to be whoever you want to be. Throughout my trip I have been an artist, chef, farmer, carpenter, builder, cheesemaker, translator, beekeeper and many more. As long as you have a meaningful purpose you can get the most out of your adventures. For some travelers it’s all about partying and drinking, which can be a mission as well, but does it serve your purpose? To give you an example: During my time in Japan I started a spiritual journey as an artist to find out who I am, deepening my understanding of life and my purpose. Living towards a meaningful mission enabled me to learn new things, teach to give back and find the right balance of those two elements – give and take.
Everything happens for a reason
The motorbike I’ve earned myself by putting in 100 hours of hard work, shall bring me to my next destination: Mexico here I come! People warned me in advance to be careful. They wouldn’t stop talking about how dangerous it can be to cross the border between the USA and Mexico. In the middle of nowhere far up in the mountains my beloved motorbike broke down. I tried to stay calm, although the upfront warnings I got from everyone before leaving kept flying around in my head and didn’t make that an easy mission. One thing that I had learned before was to stay positive, so that is what I did. I kept going, pushing my bike until I arrived at a small village. I was afraid to stop anywhere. I felt I couldn’t trust anyone. Running out of options and facing my fears (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), I stopped at a bicycle shop. And guess what: I didn’t get killed. Far from that! The guys at the shop helped me fix my precious BMW motorbike with basic bicycle gear they had lying around. This stop changed my entire journey. The owners of the shop even recommended the breathtakingly beautiful Laguna de Media Luna, where I decided to camp. I truly believe that I needed to see that place. If my motorbike had not broken down, I would’ve missed the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
On my first beach day in Mexico, I met a very special person. Only a few days later I made the call to ask her to travel with me on the motorbike. I felt it was the right thing to do and it felt good. We had this special connection, we just clicked. I couldn’t believe the moment when she agreed to do so. After the first few days of traveling together, I noticed that ring on her finger, which made me feel a bit uneasy to be honest. Thankfully enough it was “only” her mother’s wedding ring, not her own. The relief of knowing that I still had a chance made me nervous at the same time, and I probably did the most spontaneous thing in my life: I asked her to marry me.
Both being equally spontaneous, one week later we celebrated a beautiful love ceremony right on the beach. Friends, who we met on our trip, with numerous different nationalities joined us. My favorite part of that ceremony was the preparing act of igniting a candle, which we asked everyone to do. At that very moment, we asked them to say in their own language: “I ignite my self-love.” You can’t love anyone, if you don’t love yourself.
Understand your ego
Understanding your own ego is a difficult challenge. When you decide to travel for an extended amount of time you might lose certain things, you leave friends and family behind; in a nutshell you make sacrifices. In exchange you will gain, what might often seem, infinite amounts of time. What most travelers – myself among them – use that time for is soul searching or in other words understanding your ego. In my case, my ego is all about the fear of failure. I do many things in order not to fail, or in other words not to show that I have; however, that behaviour pushed by your own ego often stands in your way of happiness. It may stop you from becoming the person you are striving to be. You will come a long way by understanding and accepting your ego to finally do all the things you dream of doing. Traveling gives you the necessary time to understand your ego.
Paradise is boring
Traveling is a life changing experience, so make the most of your time abroad. I have spent 4 months surfing and eating healthy in Costa Rica, sounds like a dream right? I can tell you that it is actually quite boring. Your expectations of paradise versus reality can be different. As long as you have a mission, paradise is quite charming. However, when you stop doing something meaningful (remember the above reflection on having a mission), being in paradise alone won’t do the trick.
Are you ready?
Now what about YOUR dream to travel the world? Although, I’m sure that you’ll learn your own lessons, I hope that my experience can help you make your trip as enjoyable as possible. Or have you had this marvelous experience already? Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Miguel is a specialist in E-commerce, aquaponics and sustainability. He is a sustainable entrepreneur, committed with the 2030 UN Agenda. Wild spirit, extremely optimistic, open-minded, adventurous, passionate about new challenges and adventures. Miguel has traveled for more than 2 years across the Caribbean, North America, Central America, and Asia. He is the founding principal of Cicloponia, a concept of advanced aquaponics systems, whereas we include black soldier fly’s larvae to the system, which have been cultured with organic waste from restaurants and the food industry.