All Posts in “Travel”

One Month in Mexico City

There are more than 20 million people living in and around Mexico City. So outside of Tokyo and Shanghai, it is the biggest city I’ve ever been to. But even with its massive size, it is easy to forget that you are in a mega-city. In most neighborhoods, the buildings are smaller and more of a fit for humans (you don’t lose sight of the sky in a sea skyscrapers).

From traveling Asia over the past year and now spending time in Mexico City, it is clear to me how much the internet has affected culture around the world. Obviously, in Mexico, most people speak Spanish and signs are in Spanish, but when you walk around many of the neighborhoods and see the businesses and people around you, it’s easy to imagine thinking that you are in New York or San Fransisco or Austin. The same is true of many of the cities we spent time in Asia.

Different language, different ethnicity, but commercially and culturally (for young people) things are very similar. You can take Uber and order food on Uber eats. You can find hipster cafes, good lattes, burritos, and gluten-free bakeries. You can watch Game of Thrones (or Juego de Trones) and the latest blockbuster movie. 

Travel and Learning What You Like

Most people live the 99% of their lives without asking themselves what they want.

They go to school and are told what to learn. They go to college and are told what credits they can pick between. They start a job and are told what their responsibilities are.

For some, summer breaks in school bring the possibility of freedom of choice, but for most it simply means being in an authoritarian structured home, having chores and a job to do.

On the conventional life path, the moment to try and find consistent daily satisfaction comes when you are 65 or 70 when you have retired completely.

For me, I lived the first 21 years of my life hardly ever asking myself the question, “what do I want?”

I did what I thought I ought to be doing.

Quiting everything to go on a 6 month backpacking trip was the first time I consistently woke up day after day with the only responsibility being to find a way to enjoy myself that day.

This didn’t mean living an irresponsible life. I had saved up the money I needed to travel and chose how to spend it. I had constraints. But for those 6 months on the road, day to day, my main goal was personal satisfaction.

It sounds like a pretty simple goal on the surface, but it takes a long time to figure out what will make you happy and fulfilled in the long-term especially after 17 years of schooling. To find a balance between things that make you happy today and things that you will be proud of doing a week, a month, or three months from now requires self-control and finesse.

Knowing what you want and acting in a way that will lead to you getting it, is a skill that takes time to learn. And it is a skill that most children and adults spend almost no time practicing. Instead, we practice acting and avoiding upseting authority figures.

Traveling to “find yourself” is often mocked and disparaged. And if you are hoping for a moment of divine intervention simply by jumping on a flight to Bogota, you are in for a surprise. But investing a period of time and comparatively small amount of savings early in life in figuring out what makes you happy can be an incredibly good investment. Even if the only lesson you learn is that relaxation and a life of leisure do not give you fulfillment. That traveling in and of itself is not going to make you happy, and that you need to find a challenge for yourself to test your abilities, to help you grow, and to give you purpose.

Long-term vs. Short-term

My dream life three years ago was traveling and working remotely. Now it’s only a few days away.

I’ve followed my interests and been lucky enough to find cool opportunities to do very cool work that can be done anywhere with a wifi connection. But as it approaches, I still experience conflict in my mind about the decision to pursue this life I’d been dreaming about.

Traveling is the thing that makes me feel the most alive. So traveling is something that I want to do more of, but there is still a voice in my head, let’s call it the career voice, that is telling me it would be better to find an apartment in a city, network, and grow my career.

Experiencing this makes me think back to deciding to quit my job three years ago.

In the fall of 2013, I decided to quit my job and go travel. I didn’t have any grand plan. I simply wanted out of a bunch of stuff I wasn’t enjoying in my day to day life.

In the lead up to quitting and leaving, I experienced quite a bit of career anxiety. The thought kept running through my head that this would make it hard to find a good job, that taking such a long career break would mean making less money in the future, or that I could be investing the time in some certification that would help my career in the future.

Six months later, after traveling, I was glad I didn’t listen to that anxiety. My outlook on my career and my life had changed completely. Taking time to travel helped me see the things that I was missing in my day to day life.

As I think about the anxiety I’m experiencing today, I remember those moments three years ago and don’t give the career voice much respect.

I know that in the long-term it theoretically may be better to move to a city, to go to networking events, to learn a practical skill and to try and make a bunch of money. But, if there is anything that I have learned about decision making over the past five years it is that choosing excitement in the short-term is usually good for me in the long term. Choosing the thing that makes me feel most excited and alive in the short/medium term is the best guide mark for the long-term. 

This doesn’t mean avoiding hard work and only doing what is easiest at any given moment. Don’t sacrifice the long-term completely. But remember that your whole life you’ve been taught to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term.

My whole life up to age twenty-three was about making common sense and solid long-term choices. I chose the safe route and took hardly any risks. It left be numb, bored, and apathetic.

Choosing the things that make me feel the most alive in the short term make me more likely to invest in myself in for the long-term. Trying to think only about the long-term leaves me bored, disengaged, and less likely to invest in myself.

5 Economics Lessons You Learn Traveling

Real vs. Nominal Prices

Any trip to the developing world will introduce you to ridiculous nominal prices. I will never forget going out for dinner with friends our first night in Ho Chi Minh City and racking up a bill of 1,000,000 Vietnamese Dong. Traveling out of your country, exchanging money, and interacting with widely different nominal prices is the best way to learn that the amount of zero’s on your paper don’t matter, what matters is the real stuff you can buy with it.

Opportunity Cost

Most long-term travelers are funding their trips with savings. You travel to a new country or continent with a limited amount of money and time, but unlimited options of things to do. At home, with your life running on momentum, it is easy to be unaware of the choices and options that are available to us. When you travel, you are confronted with the reality that what you choose to do today will affect what you can do one month from now. You learn that the cost of any one thing is not just the price, but the other ways you could have spent the money and time.

The Value of The Entrepreneur

The difference between a developed or undeveloped country is a story about entrepreneurs and government regulations. Traveling allows you to see communities that are thriving and communities that are suffering. You get to see first hand that local economies thrive when foreign entrepreneurs can create business and employ locals who may have less skill or training. You also get to see the countries and communities that are suffering because they prevent people from doing business.

Everyone Wins From Trade

For any trade to happen, both parties need to feel they are gaining value. You have to value a burger more than the price to buy it. And the restaurant has to value to money more than the supplies to make it and sell it. When you travel you can see the impact you can have on a business. You can see how eager people are to do business with you. You can experience first hand that buying something cheaply in a different country is not harmful, but massively beneficial.Going to markets in the developing world is one of the best ways to see the win-win nature of trade. People seek you out, eager to make sales, eager to get their product into your hands. The moments where you find something you are eager to buy and a person who is eager to sell it to you, it is stuck in your head that trade is good for both parties.

The Harm of Government Regulation

Traveling quickly from one country to the next is a great way to see how bad laws negatively affect countries.

Crossing a border and seeing the price of goods drop dramatically makes you think “it’s so dumb that it is so expensive to by X in that country.” Experiencing protectionism is a great teacher. Feeling the annoyance about products that you couldn’t find, and the quality of products available at supermarkets across the border is the best way to learn the harm of protectionism. In the same way traveling from Malaysia across the border to Singapore and experiencing the dramatic change in development sparks questions in the traveler’s mind about WHY? How are these two places that are so close and so similar, so different in terms of wealth?

In the same way traveling from Malaysia across the border to Singapore and experiencing the dramatic change in development sparks questions in the traveler’s mind about WHY? How are these two places that are so close and so similar, so different in terms of wealth? You are driven to learn about what makes countries rich and poor.

One Year Blog-iversary | 139 Posts Later

One year ago today, I was sitting at a Starbucks on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. I had finished work at FEE and walked up to Starbucks to get some work done on the curriculum for the first month of Praxis.

At the time the first month was about digital skills. The deliverable was launching a personal website and writing an intro post about our personal brand.

And so I wrote this.

Three hundred and sixty-five days and one hundred and thirty-nine posts later a lot has changed.

Writing a post has gone from a marathon task of battling procrastination over multiple days, to something I have done for the last 84 days in a row. I can now confidently turn and idea into a publishable blog post in 30ish minutes.

My writing has improved, but my standards have also dropped immensely. One of my first posts addressed the fear and unrealistic standards that led me to avoid writing for so long. How perfection had become a prison for me.

About a month later I had a story go viral on Medium. 40,000 people read it.

Two months later Huffington Post reached out to me about republishing my articles.

And now, one year later I’ve moved away from Atlanta, spent a summer in Canada, and am finally preparing for the next adventure.

A lot is going to be changing. We’re flying to Singapore in ten days and will be spending the winter working and traveling in Asia.

What won’t be changing is my commitment to regularly producing content.

This adventure will be great material for the podcast and for this blog. Over the next year I’ll have some amazing stories to share, and hopefully some new and valuable insights.

Writing for me is a creative release. When I go for a week without writing out an idea, I get creatively constipated, and I start to go crazy.

I haven’t monetized my blog, I haven’t generated much traffic to my site, I haven’t become a well-known blogger, but I have improved a shitload, learned a lot about myself, and improved my thinking on a bunch of topics. The value of 139 blog posts has been the internal effects. One year later I look back and just wish I had started sooner.

Podcast Mega-Episode

Every Thursday we release a new episode of The World Wanderers podcast. Today’s episode is a rapid journey through every place we’ve been since we started traveling in 2011.

We share pro’s, con’s and recommendations from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Cambodia, Colombia, England, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Gibraltar, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Laos, Morocco, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Peru, Spain, Scotland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Thailand, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam, and Whales. WOOO that was a long sentence.

Here’s the episode:

Or, as always you can check it out on iTunes.

Three Sentences On Every Country I’ve Been To | Part 1

I don’t think countries are a great metric for measuring your travels by or making decisions about where you want to visit. A person who has seen many regions of 5 countries may be much better traveled than someone is has set foot in the capital city of 60 countries. That said it is still a fun number to keep track of, so here we go with part one.

  1. Iceland – This was the first stop on a 6-month trip and my first time in a non-English speaking country. Experiencing the long summer days is something I won’t forget. The geography of Iceland is alien and after 4 days I knew I needed to come back and explore more.
  2. England – We only saw London and a bit of the countryside, but I loved the city. From experiencing Wimbledon to gorging on fish and chips, drinking cider and exploring Hyde park, I kept thinking that I could live in this city. Summer is a great time to be in London.
  3. Scotland – My father is from Scotland, so going there was fun for me. Seeing some of the places my extended family had lived, exploring castles, and learning about William Wallace was an enjoyable dive into the past. Gorging on toffee probably wasn’t a good move though.
  4. Northern Ireland – We really sucked at travel when we went to Belfast. Not having anything planned we missed out on the Giants Causeway and the more interesting history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Belfast is absolutely worth exploring.
  5. Ireland – Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer. From touring the Guinness brewery to pub hopping I got my fill of dark beer in Ireland. The cliffs of Moher are just one of the many incredibly scenic places to visit.
  6. Spain – We arrived without the ability to speak Spanish and left thinking we really need to learn how to speak Spanish. I fell in love with the laid back attitude, the food, the climate, and the scenery of Spain. Running of the Bulls in Pamplona was the first thing we booked on our trip, and an experience I’ll never forget.
  7. Morroco – We only spent a day here, but what a crazy day it was. The old town in Tangier was one of the most overwhelming experiences we’ve had traveling. Moving around many of the narrow streets was similar to making your way through a gauntlet of people trying to sell you trinkets.
  8. Portugal – Lagos, a beautiful town at the Southern end of Portugal has a special place in our hearts. But the country as a whole is very affordable and has some of the best food and hostels in the World. A must visit on any backpacking trip to Europe.
  9. France – We only saw Bourdeaux and Paris. France was a little expensive, but the history and sights are incredible. Pastries are also on point and I had a weird experience trying to get a haircut.
  10. Belgium – Doesn’t really count as we were only in the train station in Brussels. We did by some chocolates though! Unfortunately, we had no time for waffles.
  11. Netherlands – Two crazy days in Amsterdam was our experience in the Netherlands. The bikes canals and atmosphere, make this a city I would love to live in. Cannabis shouldn’t be illegal anywhere.
  12. Germany – My distinct memories from Germany are gigantic beers, gigantic pretzels, and people bumping into me all over the place. This was one of the first places were I experienced a different culture in regards to personal space as people will run into you and say nothing. I am a fiend for Lagenbretzel, and that is why I will always return.
  13. Austria – Two trips have taken me to Salzberg and Vienna. Salzberg is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. Vienna’s palace’s, imperial buildings, and downtown also make you walk around with your mouth gaped open.
  14. Switzerland – Bern and Interlaken were our two stops here. After months of Summer heat in southern Europe, breathing in the cool mountain air and swimming in a fresh water river was a friendly taste of home. The area around Interlaken has some of the best hikes I’ve ever seen.
  15. Italy – From an AC Milan game to exploring the colosseum, all our major moments in Italy were punctuated by stops to eat pizza and gelato. Mmmm, I get hungry just thinking about it. Traveling Italy in August was also fun, just to see how so many businesses were closed for the entire month.
  16. Greece – Incredible food, unbelievable scenery, and mind-boggling history. Athens is pretty sketchy, but the food makes up for it. The islands will leave you longing to return.
  17. Thailand – First developing country we visited and most intense culture shock. We went from feeling scared to leave our hotel on day one, to feeling completely at home at the end of six weeks.

The next twenty will be coming in the next few days in part two, stay tuned!

How Traveling Builds Self-Esteem Part Four

*This is part four of a multi-part series on self-esteem and travel using the framework from Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Here are parts one, two, and three.

We’ve covered a lot of ground so far. From what self-esteem is, to the first four pillars of self-esteem and the ways that travel promotes those pillars.

The fifth pillar of self-esteem is the practice of living purposefully.

In the Six Pillars, Branden defines it as,

identifying our short-term and long-term goals or purposes and the actions needed to attain them (formulating an action-plan); organizing behavior in the service of those goals; monitoring action to be sure we stay on track; and paying attention to outcome so as to recognize if and when we need to go back to the drawing-board.”

Pretty simple.

Living purposefully doesn’t mean finding a single life task. Instead, it is the practice of setting out plans or goals for yourself and taking action to achieve them. It is having a vision for your future and taking action to get there.

How Traveling Builds Self-Esteem Part Three

*This is part three of a multi-part series on Travel and self-esteem

Self-Assertiveness

Nathaniel Branden defines assertiveness as,

“Being authentic in our dealings with others; treating our values and persons with decent respect in social contexts; refusing to fake the reality of who we are or what we esteem in order to avoid disapproval; the willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts.”

 

Learning a language is one of the best ways to improve your level of assertiveness.

Traveling in Spanish speaking countries with only a limited vocabulary means that you have to get comfortable asking people questions and looking like an idiot.

Being passive is complex. You need to know the intricacies of the language to say “do you think that I could possibly…”

Being assertive is simple. “Can I have…” “Where is…”

When you are new to a language, you have to be more assertive if you want to learn and improve. And that assertiveness doesn’t go away when you go back home. It has become a habit, and your comfort zone has expanded. You have improved your assertiveness, and your self-esteem as a result.

How Traveling Builds Self-Esteem Part Two

*This is part two of my three-part series on travel and self-esteem. Part one covered “What is Self-Esteem?” and Living Consciously.

Self-Acceptance

The second pillar of self-esteem is self-acceptance. Acceptance is more abstract than living consciously but no less important.

Acceptance is a practice, but what exactly is it?

“the willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning – and also without self-repudiation; giving oneself permission to think one’s thoughts, experience one’s emotions, and look at one’s actions without necessarily liking, endorsing, or condoning them; the virtue of realism applied to the self.” – Nathaniel Branden

Accepting yourself does not mean endorsing everything about your appearance or actions. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to make changes, but it means acknowledging that things are the way they are.

How does travel help?