All Posts Tagged “Travel”

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.

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.

Tourist Traps

Today we took an adventure to Vulcan, Alberta. Vulcan is about two hours south of Calgary. It’s a small rural town. Known for producing wheat, for having nine grain elevators at one point in the past. But what Vulcan is known for is a naming coincidence with a planet from Star Trek.

To capitalize on the coincidence, Vulcan has gone all out star trek.

The town is a typical small Alberta town. The type of town that has combines filling up at one of the gas stations. The kind of place where it is hard to find someone under the age of 60 walking around during the day.

But as you turn onto the main street in Vulcan you are struck by a sight that is anything but normal. A large statue of the Enterprise spaceship from Star Trek, and a big alien spaceship looking building.

The building that looks like a spaceship is Vulcan’s tourist center. It’s a cool funky building that seems like it’s hay day was about twenty years ago.

Inside you can look at cool Star Trek memorabilia, and in one section dress up for photos in Trek costumes.

It was a fun experience. A cool and unique place not far from our back yard. More than that though it was a great reason to go out for a drive, explore a new part of the province and have some quality time with my girlfriend.

Tourist traps get a lot of hate. But if you can put your cynicism aside, and just enjoy the break from routine and normalcy that they provide those traps can be a great reason to have a memorable day and a fun adventure.

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.

Travel Anecdotes and Accuracy

One of the problems about deciding where to travel is forming an accurate view of the safety of a city, country, or region.

News, anecdotes and travel warnings induce anxiety, but how do you know if somewhere is truly safe?

The only news that receives coverage is of disasters or extreme events. You don’t hear about all the Canadians having pleasant vacations to the Philipines, but you will repeatedly hear about the two who were kidnapped and beheaded. The associations that you have formed with a place will probably be negative from the news you’ve heard about it.

The same issue applies to anecdotes. You won’t hear about your the friend of the brother of your sister’s boyfriend’s trip to Colombia if it went well. But there is a better chance you will hear about if they got robbed. This plays into the same problem as issue number one. You are more likely to have built negative associations about places.

Most of your associations about places are detached from reality.

To deal with this, you have to remember not to take your current associations seriously.

Understand and accept that most of what you know about a place unless you have first-hand accounts from friends, is biased in a negative direction.

Then also understand that the first-hand accounts you get from friends are likely biased in the opposite positive direction.

Humans are prone to generalization. Just because your friend visited two cities does not mean a country is safe. Anyone who has decided to visit a country has an incentive to see their experience with rose colored glasses. They are much more likely to share the positives than the negatives.

So the balancing act is this. Seeking out as many first-hand accounts as you can get. Adjusting for the likely positive bias. Accepting that your previous associations are likely deeply flawed, and government reports are only useful for identifying regions to be more skeptical about.

Staying safe

The better question when you are thinking about traveling somewhere with a bad reputation is not “is it safe?” but “how do I stay safe?”

It is possible to visit any country in the world safely. Diplomats safely can visit war zones. The only question is the amount of resources required to stay safe and the diminished enjoyment from the safety adjustments you need to make.

Where you will feel most, comfortable traveling will depend on what your budget is, what you are traveling with, and who you are traveling with.

As a solo female traveler, there are probably more places where you need to worry about your safety.

It is smart to pay attention to safety concerns while you plan a trip, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned traveling and talking to hundreds of travelers is that pre-trip safety anxiety is normal, but almost always unfounded.

Travel University | Graduation

When I was 23, my life had become a burden. I didn’t like my job. I didn’t like anything in my life. The only thing I liked was escaping. Movies, sports, video games. Anything to forget what life was like.

I had graduated university two years earlier. I had a business degree, and I had spent the last two years of my life working as a glorified book-keeper. I couldn’t believe that this was all there was to life. Driving to work, driving home, watching TV,  going out on the weekend and dreading Monday morning. Was this what life was going to be like for the next 40 years?

It seemed pointless. I didn’t want to do it. Something had to be different.

Travel University | Business 101

Business 101

Business school gets more popular every year. As the price of college rises, students want to make a safer investment so they choose a degree based on expected salary at the end. That means picking engineering, business, or something that will lead to law school. Business school sounds practical. You’re keeping your options open. It’s business, that where all the jobs are! So hundreds of thousands of high school seniors around the country know they want to work so they sign up for business school because they think they need to go to college.

In the college paradigm choosing to study business is a logical choice, but it is not the best way to learn about business.

Travel University | History 101 | Travel History

History 101 | Travel History 

Successful people learn from their mistakes. They don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect to get a different result. When they don’t get the results they want successful people learn a lesson, change their approach, and try something new. Learning from your mistakes is not easy, though. Observing mistakes and thinking them through requires resilience. You need to be comfortable with uncomfortable emotions, and most people are trained to avoid painful feelings. Instead of analyzing a decision they forget and understanding why it happened, most people avoid thinking about it and never learn.

“‘I have done that,’ says my memory. ‘I cannot have done that,’ says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually–memory yields.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

Unable to handle the pain that comes from accepting responsibility for an action they aren’t proud of, people blame others. Their environment, their enemy, society.

Assigning responsibility is hard. There are so many factors that contribute to every single moment. If you spill hot tea on a friend, it could be you running into them, them running into you, or maybe even a third person who said something right before is responsible. A simple movement like pouring tea on a friend is complex and contains partial responsibility for a number of people. Now, try to take a four year period of world war two and tell me who is responsible.

On a day to day level, it can be challenging to learn from our mistakes. It can be challenging to assign responsibility. That problem extends when you try and interpret and learn lessons from millions of individuals all over the world.

The complexity of history makes it hard to teach in any environment, but especially a school. Especially when the people running the school, the school district, and the department of education have a vested interest in making you see events in a certain way.