Extended long-term travel opens up new and exciting worlds for individuals in ways that no other pursuit can. It can enhance one’s confidence and self esteem, unlock a better lifestyle, boost one’s career, and even help couples to develop a more intimate love and understanding.

But perhaps the greatest gift is how travel furnishes the mind. The journey is mental as much as it is physical.

Once we discover the world, we can better understand our place in it. We leave behind the small circle of influence we inhabit at home and come face to face with the world at large. Suddenly the challenges, hardships, triumphs, and little moments of happiness and kindness that characterize daily life have real meaning to us – and impact us in significant ways.

Very often, a realignment occurs. You become a new person with new priorities, new values, and a new and more meaningful life path. You become more self-aware as you challenge each of your assumptions about yourself and the world. You’ll come to know yourself better and learn how to listen – truly listen – to your heart.

For this article, I’ve gone out and collected the stories of a dozen of the most well-known travel bloggers, who generously share their backgrounds, stories, travel experiences, and what they’ve learned along the way.

Read their stories, be inspired, and seek out an adventure or two of your own!

Click on any title to skip to that section.

1. Nancy Sathre-Vogel | Family on Bikes
2. Justin Carmack | True Nomads
3. Anna Lysakowska | Anna Everywhere
4. Milan Bardun | Bez Mapy
5. Joanna Farley | Vintage Girl Travels
6. Tom Edwards | Tune Up and Travel
7. Morgan Sullivan | A Beautiful View
8. Zofia Baldyga | The Picktures
9. Katie Lutz | From Shores to Skylines
10. Lesh and Jazza | Nomadasaurus
11. Illia and Nastia | Crazzzy Travel
12. Danny Flood | OpenWorld Magazine



I’ve met so many people through my travels and although they come from different backgrounds and have different lenses through which they view the world, each is united by a passion for travel. Each has a thirst to step outside the realm of what is comfortable and familiar to discover that which lies just beyond the edge of the horizon.

1. Family on Bikes | www.FamilyonBikes.org

Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes

“It’s about waking up in the morning and knowing that what you will do with the next 24 hours is what YOU choose to do – not your parents or friends, not your boss, not your circumstances. We need to do what makes our hearts sing – no matter where we are.”

Traveler: Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Background / Travel Resume:

I’ve done it all. Started traveling back in the 1980s when I went in the Peace Corps (Honduras). A couple years later I took off and backpacked around South America for 7 months before getting a teaching job on the Navajo reservation. My next big adventure was a year-long bicycle journey around Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh as half of a couple. Next up came the expat life – my husband and I taught school in Egypt, Ethiopia, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. Our kids entered the picture during that phase. Our twin sons have now spent a total of four years living and traveling on bicycle – including a 3-year jaunt from Alaska to Argentina. We now live in Boise, Idaho.

When did you start traveling and why?

My parents took us kids to Mexico when I was 16 years old. That trip opened my eyes to the wonders of the world, and I could never be content with living in my own small world after that. I was fascinated by the idea of other cultures, other foods, other ways of life. I vowed to spend my life discovering the world.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life now?

I have come full circle now. After 28 years of full time time travel – backpacking, biking, expat, volunteer, single, married couple, family – I finally reached a point where I was ready to move on to a different phase. I found, over my many years of travel, that I used to be fascinated by the differences, but eventually I came around to where I was seeing the similarities. Ultimately, we all eat foods that are grown locally, we make our houses with materials available locally, our lives are based on what’s around us. In that, we really aren’t all that different.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I think the main thing I learned is that it isn’t about the travel at all. It took me 28 years to learn that… What’s important is that we live for today. That we take advantage of where we are at the moment and seize the moment – as trite as that sounds. It’s about waking up in the morning and knowing that what you will do with the next 24 hours is what YOU choose to do – not your parents or friends, not your boss, not your circumstances. We need to do what makes our hearts sing – no matter where we are.

Mrs. Sathre-Vogel addressing the crowd at TEDx JacksonHole.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Not really. We’ve had a few minor issues, but nothing major. Except, of course, that time in India when we got caught taking pics of the burning ghat… Fortunately, we escaped before we ended up in the police station.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

When I first started traveling, yes. It was hard to come back to the USA where nobody understood what I had seen and done. Over the years, it’s become easier. One reason why is that I’ve fine tuned my radar – I just somehow know who is receptive to hearing about it all and who isn’t. And secondly, I am comfortable with who I am and don’t really worry about it all.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I hear many travelers talk about spending hours researching hotels beforehand so that they know exactly where they are going when they get there. I would urge people to take a completely different route. Unless you are arriving during a major festival where all accommodation will be full, just go there. Get in a taxi and ask the driver to take you to a great, cheap hotel. I would say that 90% of the time we end up in wonderful little places that do not have an internet presence, so we never would have found them online. Plus, we save a LOT of money doing it that way.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes, at Ushaia.

The Vogel family at the end of the world after nearly 3 years and 17,300 miles of cycling.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

How does one answer this?? There are great places all over! Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

  • The Ganges River in India
  • Pretty much any festival in Ethiopia – Meskel in the fall is particularly spectacular, but they are all wonderful
  • Seeing mountain gorillas in Zambia
  • Biking the Alaska Highway
  • Pretty much all of the national parks in the USA
  • Dr. Cabrera’s Stone Museum in Ica, Peru (http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2012/01/the-mysteries-of-dr-cabreras-stone-museum-in-ica-peru/)

2. True Nomads | www.TrueNomads.com

“My friends back home think that I somehow struck it rich and am so lucky to travel non stop for so long… They attribute travel to short vacations, luxury and all inclusive, and very expensive. I think of travel as adventure, experiences, cheap hostels and dodgy street food.”

Justin Carmack, True Nomads

Traveler: Justin Carmack

Background / Travel Resume:

Since I hit the road in 2010, I’ve been to 67 countries on 6 continents and have done things that will stick in my memories forever such as hitchhike the whole of Europe for 3 months, stand on top of Victoria falls in Zambia, get a tattoo in Thailand, explore ancient ruins in Cambodia, Egypt, Mexico, and more.

When did you start traveling and why?

I was in university and went on a trip to Southern Africa with the outdoor program. During that trip I’d never felt more happy or free, outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t do all the touristy things my friends were doing, but I was probably still the most happy one. By the end of the trip I knew I couldn’t return to the rat race. So I stayed. I had to find odd jobs everywhere I went to survive, but in that I discovered that I could sustain myself anywhere on the globe.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life now?

Travel has changed everything about me. I didn’t even know how narrow minded, and dare I say ignorant, I was. Now I’m neither republican or democrat, Christian or any affiliation. I am open minded to just about anything. I studied Buddhism in Vietnam, Islam in Egypt, jewish in Israel, catholic, Protestant, ect ect ect.

As for the economy, the environment, politics, history, I make my own conclusions for everything. Now I question everything I’m told and don’t take someone’s word for it. I’m also completely spontaneous and will try anything once. One of my favorite things to do is to go to countries that the government has travel warnings against, and showing my friends how great a place it is. Like Mozambique and Colombia. Now my comfort bubble is huge and I feel like it has really expanded my horizons to many possibilities.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I’ve learned to give in and go with the local scene. To not try to influence people about my ways and to learn theirs. I’ve learned from many developing countries that I am very lucky and that it would be a shame to waste it. I’ve learned that if I just give in and let go, things always turn out great as well as unexpected.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Only with the ladies. I’ve tried the relationship thing a bunch of times but the road always calls. What seems to call the girls I meet is a stable life with 4 kids and a house on a hill. Nothing more terrifying than that.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

For sure. My friends back home think that I somehow struck it rich and am so lucky to travel non stop for so long. They don’t understand how cheaply I manage to do it. They also wonder what the hell I’m doing in places like Malawi or Jordan or Bolivia if I could be in Cancun or Bahamas or Jamaica. They attribute travel to short vacations, luxury and all inclusive, and very expensive. I think of travel as adventure, experiences, cheap hostels and dodgy street food.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I sometimes keep a fake wallet with me with like 10 $1 bills, a few old credit cards and stuff. And it came in handy when I got held up in Peru. I handed over the fake wallet, they glanced inside and saw it was of American dollars and credit cards and were happy and took off. That’s one of many that’s help along the way.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

  • The Devil’s Pool on top of Victoria Falls, Zambia.
  • Watching the clouds flow over the edge of table mountain, as I sat on top of it.
  • Diving lake Malawi with African Cichlids that glow in the dark.
  • Diving with whalesharks and manta rays in Tofo, Mozambique.
  • Getting divemaster certified in Dahab, Egypt.
  • Exploring most of the capitals of Europe and their mid evil old towns.
  • Living and working on copacobana, Rio De Janeiro for 2 months and seeing the best NYE fireworks ever.
  • Living on the beach in Costa Rica alone for 3 months, spearing fish for dinner every day.
  • The list goes on and on.

3. Anna Everywhere | www.AnnaEverywhere.com

Traveler: Anna Lysakowska

Anna Lysakowska, Anna Everywhere

“Everyone told me that a girl from Poland going out and traveling the world on her own was a ridiculous idea. I think the fact that everyone discouraged me when I told them I wanted to do it pushed me to travel more than anything.”

Background / Travel Resume:

Anna Lysakowska is a blogger at Anna Everywhere. She has visited more than 46 countries and lived in 7, including Mexico City, Boston, London, Cape Town, Florence and Leiden. She studied journalism at Harvard, international law at Oxford Brookes and obtained her Masters in Latin American Studies from Leiden University. Since 2013 she has been residing in the Netherlands where she works at a marketing company, but this doesn’t stop her from traveling. Connect with her through Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

When did you start traveling and why?

Growing up, everyone told me that a girl from Poland going out and traveling the world on her own was a ridiculous idea. While I had always been somewhat interested in travel out of general curiosity, I think the fact that everyone discouraged me when I told them I wanted to do it pushed me to travel more than anything. Therefore, I took it to the next level when I was around 15 years old.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

The effects have been both positive and negative. On the one hand, I have learned to plan things very well because when you travel, you always need a backup in case something goes wrong. I have also learned to be very accepting and tolerant of other cultures. On the other hand, it’s quite hard to excite me nowadays because of everything I have seen and experienced. I guess you could say traveling has made me somewhat jaded.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I’d say there is a huge difference between just visiting a place and living there for a bit longer. It’s only after you’ve been an expat long enough that you really get to know the people, the culture, and the reality of living in a certain place.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Troubles? Plenty! I have tons of stories involving lost bags, missed flights, and overall inconveniences. Luckily, I have never been mugged or arrested so I guess it could be worse.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

When I’m asked questions about my life by “normal” people the conversation can go two ways. They’re usually impressed and ask a lot of questions about how and why I’ve been traveling and how I can afford it, or they treat me like some kind of creature from a different planet and become a bit spiteful. I have become used to it by now and if someone decides not to like me because of my travels it’s their loss!

Anna Lysakowska, Anna Everywhere

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

To see more of the world for a cheaper price I often take a long layover so I can see the place I’m stopping at. I did it for example in Copenhagen where I stopped for 23 hours while flying from London to Warsaw. Flights with long layovers usually cost less that direct ones and sometimes it’s easier to organize a visa for a particular place, like for instance Russia gives travelers transit visas for up to 72h which are easier to obtain than if you’re heading to Russia directly.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

One of them was definitely swimming with water tortoises in the Galapagos. I was able to grab the shell of a tortoise and let myself be pulled by this creature. That was truly amazing! I also had a chance to walk with lions while volunteering in Zimbabwe. For a month I was taking care of those lovely cats, hugging them and taking them to play.

4. Bez Mapy | www.bezmapy.com

Traveler: Milan Bardun

Milan Bardun, Bezmapy.

When did you start traveling and why?

I’ve been traveling since ever. Remember myself as a 10 year old child who took the bicycle from the garage and my mother didn’t hear from me all day long. Then when I came home in the evening, hungry and dirty she’d yell at me, worried sick and telling me that I’m very irresponsible.

Years passed, and I became an adult and began traveling further, not with bicycle but on the plane. With Ryanair airline I could travel anywhere in the Europe for less than 20 euro one way, so I literally travelled around the whole Europe and North Africa on Ryanair’s wings. Many sleepless nights at the airports with backpack and Jules Vernes books.

And why have I started traveling? I can’t stay in one place for very long. It’s that feeling you have in your stomach when you’re browsing the Internet and looking for good flights. I do it all the time, and when I come back from somewhere, in next two months I always book another flight. It’s like a drug and a friend told me once, that I should seriously see a doctor.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

Traveling changed me a lot. Financially, I became less materialistic. I’m willing to pay 500 eur for flight, but still using prepaid phone after my grandmother. iPhone? No thanks. Love my old Samsung without camera and WiFi. 90 percent of what I earn I spend on traveling. I know now how to keep my expenses low and I’m still a student, so I get discounts everywhere. The more I travel, less and less money means to me. Do I approach things differently? Definitely! After visiting different countries and different parts of the world, one becomes a very tolerant person. I’m not afraid of different cultures, different food or different religions. I accept everyone and everything. And lately, I’ve changed my approach to homeless people. I’ll explain later.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I have learned a lot of about Arabic countries and about about Muslims. As a European I heard a lot of bad about Islam in the news, hearing that people in France have a lot of issues with them cause of its large Muslim population. I spend lot of time in Morocco and United Arab Emirates and I must say, Muslim religion is amazing and I really respect and adore how devoted Muslims are to Allah. Muslims are very kind people and they are not terrorists! This is one of most important things travels have learned me.

Milan Bardun, world traveler.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

My last trip was around the USA for three months. I’d saved a lot of money in the USA as well working in summer camp. During these 3 months I spent all that money and my last two days took place in NYC where I arrived to from california. Had two days until my flight back to Europe and only 30 dollars in my pocket. I ended up sleeping in central park, walking around Manhattan and taking free ferry to Staten Island and back all night long. These two nights were very important for me, because I met a lot of homeless people and understood how how hard their life is. Feeling cold and hungry every night is very tough. In the morning, I just couldn’t look at them anymore and to one I met in the city I bought a hot coffee.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

Well, somehow I stopped relating to not well travelled people. The reason is quite easy to understand. Many people I meet become very envious and ask me questions like where I got the money for all my travels? Etc. They just don’t understand that when you start saving, you can save a lot. The most difficult thing is to start. Although I’m trying to accept people who don’t travel. Haha. As I said, traveling will leave you very open-minded and sometimes people say things like ‘I don’t like Romania, it’s full of homeless and gypsies’. At this point I just leave, don’t wanna argue with then. Romania is beautiful and only people who haven’t been there think it’s full of gypsies.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

When you book return flights and returning to different city, the flight is always cheaper. Want to save on accommodation? Book via Turkish websites, prices for same hotels are 50 percent less than on American or European.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

Traveling to different countries puts you to situations that you will laugh about many years later. In Abu Dhabi I entered public bus and sat on the seat. All male people started laughing and looking at me, then I realized I was sitting in ladies part only. Haha. In San Francisco I accidentally entered a nudist beach right under the Golden Gate Bridge. I was the only one with a swimsuit and people’s looks made me understand quickly to take it off, so I did and left the beach naked haha. In Morocco I got lost in the medina, and had to pay a young boy to get me out of there. He walked me all over the medina, told me that the exit is behind the corner. I paid him, he left and the exit wasn’t there of course.

5. Vintage Girl Travels | www.VintageGirlTravels.com

Joanna Farley, Vintage Girl Travels

“I went on my first solo trip as a very sheltered, unsure person with a chronic health condition who had been warned that what I was doing was dangerous both for my health & safety. I came back two months later a confident, spiritually strong person who had her health issues under control. Every time I go back out on the road, I find this same strength again, and when I’m home, it empowers me to get over the rough spots – that I can get through anything, succeed at anything I choose.”

Traveler: Joanna Farley

Background / Travel Resume: Joanna writes about her travel adventures at Vintage Girl Travels, where she combines her passion for travel, modern history, and swing dancing. She has travelled extensively throughout 12 countries, including spending six months backpacking around the Mediterranean in 2012. A contributor for Go Girl Travel Network and Jobsearch.Ca, she currently calls Calgary, Alberta home while working towards location independence as social media consultant and planning her next long term trip.

When did you start traveling and why?

I started traveling when I was tiny – my parents were both in the aviation industry so they installed wanderlust into me at a really young age. I loved getting to explore new places and learn about new cultures, and I started my solo travels the day after I finished university. I still get excited every time I arrive somewhere new and get to immerse myself in a different culture – learning about different cultures means I also learn more about myself, and both keep me going back to more travels.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

Travel for me is incredibly self-empowering. I went on my first solo trip as a very sheltered, unsure person with a chronic health condition who had been warned that what I was doing was dangerous both for my health & safety. I came back two months later a confident, spiritually strong person who had her health issues under control. Independent travel was a goal of mine since I’d been young and achieving it made me realize I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and that my spirit and body are five times more capable than I ever imagined. Every time I go back out on the road, I find this same strength again, and when I’m home, it empowers me to get over the rough spots – that I can get through anything, succeed at anything I choose.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

How blessed I am – to have the opportunities I have and to have had the background I had. I’m glad I have a supportive family that doesn’t think I’m completely nuts to want to do this versus having a secure job, and to live in a culture that has so many supports for the disabled. It’s also taught me to have patience – having a hearing disability (mine is considered ‘severe’) while traveling makes things twice as frustrating, but also teaches you the futility of that frustration – and you find yourself learning how to adapt and let go of your own insecurity.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

I’ve gotten lost, injured, and trapped in the metro train doors in Paris once. Luckily, nothing serious has ever happened (or, at least, I got helped before something severely serious DID happen). Mostly, I’ve been extremely lucky to encounter people who want to help me on my journeys, vs. people who are looking to take advantage of you.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t see or experienced the things you have?

Sometimes, especially when people complain about the “third world” or “poverty”, vs. seeing how much every country and culture has to offer. And, of course, I’m always running into people who think ‘travel blogger’ is synonymous with ‘unemployed bum’.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I’m still stealing everyone else’s! Generally, I love packing cubes for organizing electronics and random items, and find Google Flights incredibly useful. I’m always suggesting to people in Western Canada who want to go to Europe that they don’t fly a major carrier, but instead look for a cheap flight to London & then use Easy Jet or Ryan Air to their final destination (it usually saves them about $1,000). As a ‘Vintage Girl’, my personal travel hack would be red lipstick – adding that to any outfit instantly makes it look more glamorous and vintage, no matter how few accessories you otherwise have or how many days it’s been since you visited the laundromat.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

Taking a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia (Turkey) shouldn’t be missed by anyone. I was just in Mexico this week, where I also got to release a baby turtle into the wild, swim in a cenote, and watch a Saint’s Day parade, all which were incredible. Honestly, I think my favorite moments are those when I get to observe special moments or celebrations of another culture – being in Spain when they won the Euro Cup in 2012, seeing Ballet dancers practice a dance in the gardens of the Louvre, and attending a post-Palio celebratory parade in Sienna were unintentional, but amazing experiences.

6. Tune Up and Travel | www.TuneUpandTravel.com

“While I was train-hopping in Italy I ended up spending a few days stranded under a bridge which I shared with an ostrich-like emu. (Still no word on how an emu ended up in Italy)”

Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards, Tune Up and Travel.

Background / Travel Resume: I’m a world-traveling indie musician from Ohio, US. At the age of 24, I decided that I preferred a life of adventure rather than the typical “American Dream.” I quit my job and set out to travel the world. I left with a laughable budget and big dreams, and unsurprisingly ended up living on the streets, playing my guitar to keep myself fed.

I learned all kinds of helpful tips for budget travel, world travel as a musician, and making money on the road in a variety of ways; which I share on my website, Tune Up & Travel, along with some interesting stories. I’ve hitchhiked and illegally train-hopped around Europe, slept with homeless people on the streets of Rome, lived like a king in Southeast Asia, busked for police officers in Germany, and survived minor hypothermia while stranded in the mountains of Tekapo, New Zealand. Now I’m planning to head to South America and see what kind of trouble I can get into.

When did you start traveling and why?

My very first traveling experience was as a 12-year old kid. My parents took me west to the Black Hills in South Dakota, Yellowstone in Wyoming and back through Utah and Colorado. It was what got me yearning to see as much of the world as I possibly can!

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

I’ve always said travel gives new perspective and attitude. It makes you more confident, ambitious, positive and I think even friendly. Every time I travel for an extended period of time, I come back changed. Always for the better, never for the worse.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I’ve learned that humans are kind by nature. Hitchhiking all over Europe, my buddies and I were given places to stay, meals, all kinds of stuff. We looked like serial killers—with big beards and dirty clothes but people still picked us up and gave us the benefit of the doubt! It was without a doubt the most humbling experience of my life.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

I guess that depends on your definition of trouble! I’ve been detained by police on a few occasions when I’ve been sleeping in random areas that I wasn’t supposed to be in, if that’s the kind of stuff you mean. Or maybe the fact that I have a tendency to run away from problems. Both figuratively and literally. Like, to other countries! haha

Tom Edwards, globe trotting travel blogger.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

Absolutely. I come from a small town where not too many people have went further than a couple states away, just to visit the beach. People think it’s absolutely crazy to go to another country. They have this fear of everything that isn’t the US. It’s amusing to those of us who’ve traveled a bit. It also feels like you’re bragging every time you talk to someone about an experience you’ve had on the road. That’s what I like about hostels, you can all swap stories and it feels like genuine conversation rather than boasting of exploits. Meeting new people is without a doubt my favorite thing about travel.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I’ve got a few good ones! I’ve done what you would call “extreme” budget traveling a few times. Hostels were a luxury, you eat once a day and it’s ALWAYS rice; that kind of budget. A good one is train-hopping in Italy. I figured out that if you take the government-owned lines, they NEVER check the tickets. You can go all over the country for free! Same goes for the buses. I’ve done a lot of road-tripping around the US and I probably know about every trick in the book there. You can use the hot water (by the coffee machines) in gas stations to cook ramen noodles. You can park and sleep in any Wal-Mart parking lot. Free WiFi at any McDonald’s or Starbucks. All that stuff. I know quite a few tricks for free camping all over the US as well. I love learning new travel hacks!

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

I’ve got loads of fun stories! (As most travelers probably do) But a few of the more memorable ones are:

  • While I was train-hopping in Italy I ended up spending a few days stranded under a bridge which I shared with an ostrich-like emu. (Still no word on how an emu ended up in Italy)
  • I accidentally hitchhiked with a drug dealer in Switzerland and rode along for several “business transactions” with some scary looking German dudes in a Maserati.
  • I lived in a nature preserve outside of Rome for three weeks and took buses into the city to busk (play music on the street) everyday. There were prostitutes who sat near the bus station and at the end of the day I always chatted with them “How did you do today?”  “Not many customers, slow day—how about yourself?” “Pretty good, decent tips…” Hahah.
  • Sex shows in Bangkok. Just… wow.
  • Living on a mountainside and almost getting hypothermia at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. We didn’t have money for a hotel, so we just hiked into the mountains and made a camp. Turns out it gets really, really cold up there. We were stuck there for 6 days before we could find a ride back to Christchurch.

There are just too many awesome, hilarious, and interesting things that happen when you leave your comfort zone and travel! This is why I love helping people get out and do it 🙂

7. Morgan Sullivan of A Beautiful View in Seoul, Korea. A Beautiful View | www.beautifulview.org

Traveler: Morgan Sullivan

“The world is a whole lot safer and kinder than the mainstream media would have us believe. Overwhelmingly, I’ve found that most places are much safer than you would imagine, and most people are ultimately the same when it comes down to it – they are kind, willing to help, and simply trying to get through life happy and in one piece.”

When did you start traveling and why?
Though I had visited various cities within the U.S., moving to South Korea was my first international trip. It was a huge leap and a drastic change, and in many ways I think that is why I did it. All my life, I had dreamt of far off places, and died of envy whenever my friends or family got the opportunity to travel. For years, I was unable to summon up the will and the courage to make my own adventure a reality. I had always told myself that I didn’t have enough time, didn’t have enough money, or that I should really finish school first. However, once I graduated I knew I couldn’t wait any longer: I was out of excuses and my wanderlust was burning more fiercely than ever.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

More than anything else, I think my travels have made me a more emotionally stable person. Travel has taught me that even the worst situation can be resolved if you give it time, stay calm, and keep trying. In my life before, I was wedded to the idea of planning and I simply could not handle it when a plan went awry. Now, I am more trusting of the process and more accepting of the little twists and turns that life inevitably throws your way.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

The world is a whole lot safer and kinder than the mainstream media would have us believe. Of course, a little caution never hurt anyone, and it is important to trust your gut; however, being afraid of every new place and every stranger you come across only does you a disservice. Overwhelmingly, I’ve found that most places are much safer than you would imagine, and most people are ultimately the same when it comes down to it – they are kind, willing to help, and simply trying to get through life happy and in one piece.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Interesting question… I wouldn’t say it has gotten me into any trouble per se; however, it is not without costs. When you leave your home and your normal life, the people in it keep moving and growing without you. Of course, I would never want anything less for the people I love, but I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t sting a little bit when you see birthdays, weddings, and holidays passing by without you there. When you travel, you’re the one stepping out of their lives, and sometimes people move on without you. The good news is that the ones that really matter will always be there for you once you return.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

At this point, that is kind of difficult to say for me. I haven’t been home since I first left, and everyone I’ve met in Korea and on my other international trips is a fellow traveler. I have noticed that when speaking to certain friends at home, if I ask them how they are, I always get the same answers: “Oh, you know… Same old, same old.” Whereas, I feel like I always have a new story to tell. It’s hard to find a balance sometimes. I want to relate all of the amazing experiences I have had; however, I don’t want to be that jerk who starts every single sentence with, “Well, when I was in (exotic place) I did these (exotic things).”

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

  • When traveling without data, take a screenshot of the map while in a WiFi zone, this way you’ll have it for later reference. Alternatively, when using Google Maps, type in ‘Ok Maps’ in the top search bar and that same map will be useable in a non-internet area.
  • Use comprehensive airfare search engines, such as Kayak or Skyscanner.
  • Delete your browsing history/cookies before purchasing an airline ticket. Otherwise, sites will often automatically raise the price of a ticket if you have searched for it several times.
  • Use gallon size bags to organize your clothes in a large backpack.
  • Pack things inside your shoes.
  • Roll your clothes!!! Pretty much all seasoned travelers know this one already, but I met someone a couple months ago who had never heard this. Suffice it to say, I blew their mind.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

I’ll give you my top three. I had one of the best days ever when I was in the beach town of Kenting, Taiwan. We got a cheap 24 hour scooter rental and road along the entire southern coastline for hours. Eventually, we stopped at a locally popular beach called Baisha and lazed away the rest of the day. We ate street food, sipped mojitos, and frolicked in the crystal clear water. Such a perfect day.

The second was an all day boating trip around the smaller islands of Thailand. If you ever make it there, I would suggest skipping the tourist areas all together – there are just better ways to spend your time. This being said, the small islands off the coast are like nothing I’ve ever seen before: serene, stunningly beautiful, and surrounded by dazzling, aquamarine water. You don’t know it yet, but when you imagine paradise, you’re imagining southern Thailand.
The third was an experience I had in the first few hours of my trip to Japan. I was wandering around the streets of Osaka, trying to find my hostel and failing miserably. I stopped a random woman on the street to see if she could point me towards the train station. Though she didn’t know where it was offhand, she did do everything in her power to help. After looking it up on her phone, she called my hostel, got in a taxi with me, told the driver where to go, and then walked me to the front door. I’ll probably never see that women again, but I will always remember her as the remarkable soul that spent almost an hour helping a total stranger find their way.

If you’d like to know more about me, or read more of my writing please feel free to find me on my website, on Facebook, or Tweet to me.

8. The Picktures | www.ThePicktures.net

Zofia Baldyga, the Picktures.

Zofia Baldyga

When did you start traveling and why?

This is a hard one. I’ve been traveling since I was a little kid. I’d have to ask my parents why. I think I know them well enough to try to guess though. So, I think they wanted to show us historically and culturally important places in Europe to broaden our mind and to build our identity beyond the country borders. If this was their intention, they succeeded. As a teenager I was full of wanderlust. I used every opportunity to get out of Poland: language courses, volunteering stints abroad, low budget backpacking, anything. More I saw, more I wanted to see. So I keep going.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

Of course. To travel is to agree that the places, experiences and people you encounter will change you. I love change so I never opposed. I’m comfortable with change. I want it.

At some point, I discovered I don’t want to live in Poland anymore. This is where I was born and raised; this is where my roots are and where my family lives. Travel taught me that home is a feeling, not a place. I’m the one who creates and defines my own sense of belonging. Today, I live in a different country, where I managed to build a lifestyle I love. This country is Armenia, not the top choice among expats. That said, never be afraid of unpopular choices.

Travel helped me to realize what I value the most in life, in relationships, in professional life. It helped me to understand how much I love freedom, how much I need my own space and, last but not least, how much more I value experience over stuff.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?Zofia Baldyga, The Picktures.

1. Experience over stuff….
2. Never plan too much.
3. Travel slowly. If you feel like the country is worth to live in for some time, do it. Trust your guts, There might be something extraordinary this country holds in storage for you like Armenia did for me.
4. It is possible to work and travel. Also, I’m way more efficient on the road than in the office.
5. Cultural norms, social standards and political discourse might differ in various places but people are the same everywhere.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Not yet. Fortunately.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

Nobody is normal. Also, I don’t think everyone must travel. I’m allergic to travelers that judge people who sit still in their safe cubicle zones. Everyone makes their choice. All that said, I had situations when it was hard for me to create a dialogue with somebody, who somehow automatically labeled me as, “the weird European who moved to the Caucasus“. It drives me nuts. That’s why I’m trying really hard not to be judgmental, ever.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

1. Use Couchsurfing even if you have money to pay for your accommodation.
2. Sign up for frequent flyer programs and use first minute sales to book flights.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

1. Volunteering in a gothic castle in Czech Republic.
2. Going to Armenia for two months and discovering I want to move to Yerevan. Moving to Yerevan ten months later.
3. Hitchhiking in Ukraine and getting a ride on top of a truck.

9. From Shores to Skylines | www.FromShorestoSkylines.com

Katie Lutz

“I find many of my friends’ primary interest is to get married, have kids and collect things. I collect travel memories, not physical things, and would much rather live a simple life than most of the “normal” people around me. I’m not sure the traditional “American dream” will ever be for me.”

Biography / Travel Resume: Katie caught the travel bug in 2001 and has had an insatiable case of wanderlust ever since. An explorer at heart, she kept her day job as a biologist and travels the world every chance she gets. You might find her diving, hiking, digging into local food or scoping out historical monuments, which you can read more about at From Shores to Skylines.

When did you start traveling and why?

I’ve been traveling around my home country (the US) for as long as I can remember, mostly on family road trips every year. My first international trip was to Mexico in 2001. I stayed in Cancun, which is incredibly touristy and not very “international”, but I ventured downtown one night and got a tiny glimpse of Mexican culture. That one moment lit a spark in me that never went out, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I know it’s odd that someone got hooked on travel and culture in Cancun of all places, but that’s the story of my travel infection. In case you’re wondering, I’ve since been back to Mexico, and fell in love with it all over again, albeit not in Cancun this time.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

Absolutely! I find myself wanting to live a much simpler life full of memories rather than material things, and it has been liberating. I’m way more open-minded than I once was, and can approach situations with a well-rounded perspective.

Ek Balam by Katie Lutz, From Shores to Skylines.

Ek Balam, a lesser known and smaller group of ruins in Mexico that are well worth a visit.

I’ve also learned to have confidence and trust in myself. I was once lost in the hills of Tuscany with an extremely heavy bag (the last time I ever overpacked), and no map. The only person I saw spoke less English than I did Italian, but I managed to find my way eventually and nothing bad happened to me, other than some sore muscles. Bonus – I worked off some of that amazing pasta!

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I’ve learned that packing light is a must. There have been so many times I’ve been thankful for this lesson. From busy streets in Bangkok to having to walk a mile along a beach (at sunset, poor me), if you plan on going even a little off the beaten path you don’t need all that stuff.

Smile. A lot. Until you feel like you might look a little crazy. Most people are just as curious about you as you are about them, and a simple smile could open up a conversation.

I’ve also learned to keep an open mind. Part of traveling is to experience other cultures, and in order to completely immerse yourself, you’ve got to leave your preconceptions at home.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

These questions always make me feel boring, but I’m just not a trouble maker! Sure, I’ve my made my fair share of travel mistakes, but not any actual trouble.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t see or experienced the things you have?

I’m a classic extrovert, so I can relate to almost anyone. But, when it comes to having a true connection with someone, yes, I do find it difficult. It’s not even that they haven’t experienced the amazing things I have, but our fundamental life goals are polar opposite. I find many of my friends’ primary interest is to get married, have kids and collect things. After seeing some really impoverished people around the world, I find it difficult not to think of my own culture as wasteful. Most of what people think they “need” is unnecessary clutter. I collect travel memories, not physical things, and would much rather live a simple life than most of the “normal” people around me. I’m not sure the traditional “American dream” will ever be for me.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

No hacks, I might be the last person to catch on to these kinds of things. I opened an airline miles credit card once – does that count? Obviously, I am currently accepting juicy tips. The most useful app I have is TripIt for collecting all my travel bookings, maps, tickets, etc.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

I have written entire posts about this, and while I’ve swam with whale sharks, went scuba diving in a gaping hole in the ground and gone on leisurely walks with elephants, it’s the connection I make with other people and what I’ve learned about myself that really stand out. On a recent trip, I was able to spend an entire day cooking with women who didn’t speak any English. I had to try to get by on my kindergarten-level of spanish, but I still made a connection with them. We laughed (mostly at me), cooked and shared an amazing meal. It was amazing to form a bond with people without using language.

Another of my favorites was our experience at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, an impressive sanctuary in the middle of Thailand. Just being so close to the elephants, who had been rescued from very poor conditions in the tourism industry, really made me realize how important it is to travel ethically. It opened my eyes and changed the way I travel.

Some of my favorite experiences are when (of course) I didn’t bring my camera. We were once walking along the beach in Mexico, right after a storm. I noticed something small and dark crawling among the seaweed and I came to an abrupt halt. It was a tiny baby sea turtle (I’m practically obsessed with sea turtles), making its way to its first swim in the ocean. We watched it crawl and reach the water, as it swam away it took one last breath of air until it disappeared into the sea. Such a magical moment to witness that little traveler’s first adventure.

10. Nomadasaurus | www.Nomadasaurus.com

Lesh from Nomadasaurus

“People go down different roads in life and their paths may change. I am just happy ours crossed at some point and maybe in the future they may cross again.”

Traveler: Jazza Lesh

When did you start traveling and why?

My first trip was solo around the East coast of Australia. I was meant to go with a friend but at the last minute she received a promotion and stayed with her job. I quit mine and that was it – travelling became my world. I travelled 6 months up and down the coast and explored all the beauty my country has to offer.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

I am now so happy I decided to travel solo. It taught me a lot about myself and taught me a lot about the world and its people. The biggest turning point was when my boyfriend and I went travelling to Central America for 8 months. Back home I used to take hot showers, clean drinking water and working plumbing for granted, but now I don’t. I see the way people from these regions live simply and how they are content and happy. Possessions become nothing and family becomes everything. This is the one thing that I have learnt. I call all my family every week and have a chat. Complaining is a waste of breath as there are people out there who have a lot less than I have, so I should be grateful. I am grateful now about everything, especially for my travels.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I now know that learning the customs of a country before you go is incredibly important. Everywhere in the world they have different customs that should be respected, even in our home countries. I strive to learn them and to respect them. Respect is so important in this world and occasionally I feel that other travellers I come across sometimes don’t do this or even seem to care. Another thing I have learnt is to be grateful for what I have. I am so stoked and lucky that I am able to travel and explore this awesome world and try not to take it for granted.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

No not really. Not any real trouble, but I know I have lost a lot of friends from my absence all the time. But people go down different roads in life and their paths may change. I am just happy ours crossed at some point and maybe in the future they may cross again. Being away all the time, you do find out who your true friends are though. The ones who stay with you for the long haul.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t see or experienced the things you have?

I used to, but now I tend to focus on them. I ask them questions about life, love and then move on to their holidays. Eventually they ask about me and I tell them little bits about my travels. I have met a lot of jealous and envious people over the years that do have a bit of a dig (How do you travel for that long? You must get your money off your parents! Don’t some of us have the life!) I don’t bite; I just smile and answer with a quick true remark. I find if you spill your life story up front then people will be jealous, so I bring it up slowly in the conversation if they ask. I encourage them to go to places they would never have thought about going.Lesh and Jazza of Nomadasaurus

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I have become a flight freak over the years (even though our current trip is a strictly overland journey). I get a quote from a travel agency and think, “I am going to smash this price out of the water”. I used to spend hours looking online and eventually I would find the flight over $100 cheaper. Yep I was bored and had the time. Now I know that booking direct is the best way. Sign up for the company emails and watch out for deals. That’s my only hack I have I’m sorry. Because I travel slow and for long periods of time I don’t need to find ‘hacks’. Living like a local and staying in budget accommodation is the best hack I can recommend.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

Well, at the risk of sounding like I’m boasting, I’ll name a few of the things that have stayed with me:

  • Working on a catamaran sailing around the Caribbean was pretty epic. We were just in the right place, at the right time to score this. We worked with a great captain and crew.
  • Learning to scuba dive. I thought I would hate it, but quite the opposite – I am addicted. I love it so much and get that excited feeling every time. When we travelled in Mexico we went diving in the cenotes. This killed diving for me for a little while. It is gorgeous and a must do for divers. You don’t see any coral but you see a lot of stalactites and stalagmites in crystal blue waters. It is an unreal feeling diving in these underground limestone caving systems. Make sure you have an experienced guide with you for these!
  • Hiking to the Mayan ruins of El Mirador in the Peten region of Guatemala. This was a 5-day trek through thick jungle and it was awesome. We went in the rainy season so the mud was nearly up to our knees and it rained most of the time. But finally getting there and standing on top of the biggest temple by volume in the world was an amazing feeling.
  • Riding motorbikes around Laos, Southern Vietnam and Cambodia. This is our latest adventure that we are doing. We love having the freedom and exploring places of the each country that tourists rarely go to. We’ve been on the bikes for four months so far and are heading back to Vietnam for a few more months to check out the rest of the country.

11. Crazzzy Travel | www.CrazzzyTravel.com

Illia and Nastia of Crazzzy Travel

“We decided that we want to spend time together 24/7. The easiest way to do that was to travel!”

Travelers: Illia and Nastia

Biography/Travel Resume: Illia and Nastia are passionate about each other, traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com, a blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 37 countries on 4 continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their website to learn more about traveling the world or check their latest story about how they saw Asia on 2 EUR / day.

When did you start traveling and why?

We started traveling full-time in June 2013. Before this life-changing month we spent two years in long-distance relationship, which was just horrible. After that we decided that we want to spend time together 24/7. The easiest way to do that was to travel!

Nastia of Crazzzy Travel

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

Yes, for sure. Life of travel is less materialistic, both because you cannot fit much into your backpack and because you learn to value things which are priceless. One can notice such changes only when something serious happens. For example, recently we’ve got robbed, but we were not upset at all, since it happens to all travelers and, to be honest, as far as we do not own much, we do not have much to lose.

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

As a couple, we learnt a lot. When you are constantly traveling, there is not much time and space for quarrels and even minor conflicts. Thus, the relationship becomes much more peaceful, if we might say so. We learned to value each other’s presence and love more than before, because now it’s not only about feelings, but also about safety and sometimes even physical survival. We learnt to be a team.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Nope. We believe that it is a popular myth, invented by the society in order to limit people’s wish to travel. It is very true that traveling is an addiction, but it is not life-ruining addiction. We are very happy that we’ve decided to change our life-style, we are sure that our choice helped as to avoid many troubles, like office routines, realty credits or questionable career perspectives.

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t see or experienced the things you have?

Definitely not. Life of travel brings a certain level of popularity among “normal” people and there is nothing bad in enjoying it. In general, our relations with other people didn’t change. We only started hearing from others that we are “cool”. It’s cool to be cool, right?

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

We try to eat homemade food while traveling, since it’s cheaper and healthier. For this purpose we always bring a mobile boiler with us. It weights only 100 grams, but has already cooked hundreds of kilograms of food for us. We cannot imagine what we would do without it.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

We lived in a Karen (long neck) tribe village in Thai Highlands, spent an amazing time on extremely remote Niel island (Andaman and Nicobar islands) without telephone and Internet connection, traveled on 3 Euro per day around Europe and watched whales’ dance in the Atlantic Ocean.

12. OpenWorld Magazine | www.OpenWorldMag.com

Traveler: Danny Flood

“Sometimes the things that are the most difficult to experience are the most valuable things that can ever happen to you, because of what they teach you. We learn how to take the good with the bad, and this causes us to grow into more self-aware, more evolved beings.”

Danny Flood ziplining in the Philippines.

Background / travel resume:

Been living out of a backpack for most of the last 4 years. Traveled to over 30 countries and lived in 7. Location-independent, able to work and live from anywhere.

When did you start traveling and why?

Growing up, I had a sheltered upbringing. My father was loving but strict. We went to church every Sunday, baseball and soccer games on Saturdays, junior golf tournaments, birthday parties, etc. It was a normal life.

When I became an adult, I began to question things. It felt like my life was out of balance. I had no sense of myself, I was simply going along doing the things that others told me I should be doing. To complicate matters, my parents split up when I was a baby and all the way up until I was a teenager I had to spend 3 days at one parent’s house and the other 4 at the other. For 15 years I followed this routine of a “double life.”

No one ever asked me what I wanted – and truth be told, I didn’t know myself. Spiritually, things were out of sync. I battled with depression for years – haunted by deep questions about life. I was a loner and there were times when I didn’t have a single friend I could call.

While most other young guys were out drinking or chasing girls, I was sitting alone in cafes reading classic works of philosophers such as Thus Spake Zarathustra which famously proclaims: “God is Dead,” pondering big questions about life and writing my thoughts, always writing. I was highly educated but naive and inexperienced with life.

I had so many questions, and resolved then that I needed to get out and explore the world, to experience as much as possible. That’s why – for me, travel is not a feat of logistics; or an opportunity to tour destinations, museums, or take photographs. I think of travel as the best possible form of fostering personal growth.

There’s a saying that “monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it,” and I agree with that sentiment. A year can pass by while we sit around at home and we can’t recall any of it. And yet – six months of traveling can feel like six years, in terms of all the things you see and do, places you go, people you meet, and experiences you collect. My travel experiences have shaped me in more ways than I can fathom.

How have your travels changed you? How do you approach life differently?

1) First, I had to shake off the cultural and personal baggage which I’d acquired from years of social conditioning. 

Whilst living in Mexico during my first long-term trip, I lived with a host named Maria, who was only too happy to point out the shortcomings of my conditioning. I was working from my laptop all the time, because I was always worried that my fledgling consulting business would fall apart if I wasn’t constantly devoting attention to it.

While I was focused on developing my membership website, I would forget things like washing the dishes. My head was “in the cloud” (no pun intended) and not focused on the present moment. Maria brought me back down to Earth. I felt like I had much to lose, but she argued pointedly that I had nothing to lose. It was a difficult pill to swallow at first, but as I step further outside of my comfort zone and confront greater levels of fear, I’ve found her advice to be true.  

“Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Steve Jobs

2) Another serious fault I had before I began traveling was that, like many people, I carried around an innate sense of self-superiority to other people. Given the things you often hear in the news, and see and witness, it’s very easy to draw the false assumption that other people are stupid. When I began traveling, I witnessed the exact opposite. I met so many different people who were all incredible in a different way and each had so many amazing stories.

I realized then how many inspirational and fascinating people can be, if you take the time to stop and listen to what they have to share. It was these experiences which inspired me to write a book and create OpenWorld Magazine, a platform where I could feature the stories of these inspirational individuals and share the nuggets of wisdom they’ve acquired.

3) Travel helped me to overcome my long-standing battle with clinical depression that I struggled with for over a decade. In a sense, it forced me to confront it. No medication required.

I’ve learned that there is difference between the vague, ambiguous sense of “feeling bad” versus confronting the actual causes that make us upset. In Buenos Aires, I began keeping a notebook specifically to confront these “mental monsters” once and for all, and whenever I was feeling unhappy I’d write: “Why am I feeling upset or anxious?” Then I would pour out all of my feelings. This worked surprisingly well to help get me get back to a normal state, and define the real problems so that I could act upon them. 

What are some things you’ve learned as a result of your travels?

I’ve learned a ton. Travel accelerates the process of learning valuable life skills and lessons. I’ve collected a lot of these lessons and distilled them into a book, which we are working on publishing soon (if you sign up for the OpenWorld mailing list, you’ll receive updates and advance portions of the book for free).

Some of the more valuable “big-picture” lessons that I’ve learned as a result of my travels:

  1. The concept of “success” we’re taught is a vague, undefined mirage – and spending our lives chasing after “success” is one of the surest ways to create misery in our lives. Instead of focusing on success in the future, create success in the present through small acts of charity and love.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal and update it often, especially during dark times.
  3. If you get really upset, write down the reasons why.
  4. Learn to play music, it exercises the mind much like weights exercise the body.
  5. Breathing exercises can keep you centered whenever you find yourself in unknown environments.

A collection of other random facts:

  • If you’re without shaving cream, regular soap can do as a substitute.
  • If you hike through mountain or jungle trails, leave little pathfinding “clues” behind you so you can find your way back (example: a piece of fruit, a pile of rocks, etc.)
  • Don’t be afraid to sleep in airports (or buses, trains, airplanes, etc.). The best hours to do this are between 11 pm – 6 am, when there is relatively little noise.
  • People are more or less the same everywhere than they are different. Vietnamese communists and American capitalists both want the same things, as do Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims. They merely differ in their approach.

Danny Flood at the Likas Mosque in Sabah, Malaysia.

Danny Flood at the Likas Mosque in Sabah.

Has your addiction to travel gotten you into any trouble?

Plenty of trouble. It’s virtually impossible NOT to encounter some type of trouble any time you step outside your door, am I right?

In terms of possessions, I’ve lost an iPhone in Brazil, and an iPad in Tokyo. Had an iPod stolen in Saigon. Slipped and fell from a bridge while trekking in Taman Negara, Malaysia. Broke my left foot and several teeth. Been in dozens of travel romances; broke a few hearts and had my heart broken a few times as well.

Even if I knew these things would occur beforehand, I would still go and do it all any way. Sometimes the things that are the most difficult to experience are the most valuable things that can ever happen to you, because of what they teach you. We learn how to take the good with the bad, and this causes us to grow into more self-aware, more evolved beings.

For example, a broken heart is one of the most valuable gifts that you can ever receive. An experience like this lets us know that we are alive, vulnerable, and human, just like everyone else. The only way that we could feel sad from a heartbreak is if we experienced something truly great and amazing before. Although a difficult lesson, this paves the way to a greater understanding of the human experience. It allows to develop a greater sense of compassion, patience, and awareness that spills over into all areas of our life.

It is our capacity to acknowledge these feelings and flaws and use them to empower rather than sabotage us that will determine our ultimate level of success and happiness. We can’t repress bad emotions, rather, we should appreciate them because they teach us important lessons about patience, tolerance, and gratitude. Imperfection gives way to kindness, compassion, and love. We must experience pain to develop resiliency. Doubts, insecurities, and fears teach us how to be stronger, better-rounded individuals – if we acknowledge and appreciate the lessons they provide. 

Do you find it hard relating to “normal” people who haven’t seen or experienced the things you have?

A little bit. The interesting thing about traveling the world long-term is that after all of your adventures and experiences you return home and almost feel as though you have never left. But given the people you meet and all the memories you’ve collected, you remember that it all wasn’t just a dream – it really happened. And these experiences change us in so many ways that we can’t even fathom.

I feel that traveling opens up your world and expands your consciousness. If we stay in one place, and stuck in the same routine, we get caught up in all the minutiae of our own little world. The world is bigger than us and our little squabbles. I have no patience for anything petty. I am patient with every person I meet but I definitely appreciate people who understand these same lessons that travel has taught me, regardless of whether they travel or not.

What are some of your favorite travel “hacks?” Anything juicy to share?

I’ve discovered all kinds of ways to get the most out of travel, such as how to quickly build a network of friends and confidantes every where one goes. I’ve learned how to easily line up dates in any city or country, in just a few minutes. 

I’ve learnt many other “hacks,” which will be shared in my forthcoming book, or elsewhere on this site 😉

Most “hacks” that you’ll encounter produce a physical result – such as saving money, accruing points on an airline alliance, or scoring a free stay at a resort. However, I’ve discovered many more “inner game” hacks as a result of my travels which I feel are much more valuable. 

Danny Flood, founder of OpenWorld Magazine.

What are the coolest things you’ve experienced during your travels? List as few or many as you like.

  • I’ve visited 4 continents and nearly three dozen countries, some for long enough to immerse in the language and culture.
  • I’ve met hundreds of people from every nationality, religion, culture, and socioeconomic background imaginable
  • I’ve learned how to kitesurf, trained in Muay Thai in Bangkok, and Argentinian tango in Buenos Aires. I’ve learned Wudang Tai Chi and powerful zen meditation techniques. Learned how to convert dozens of currencies in my head, and live comfortably out of a carry-on size backpack
  • Become fluent in Spanish, learnt some conversational Japanese, Mandarin, Thai, and Korean
  • I’ve watched the sun rise and set at Angkor, swam in the Amazon river, partied on Ipanema beach and surfed at Praia Mole, climbed the tallest peak in the Southern Hemisphere, kitesurfed in Guam, ridden up the Taipei 101, parasailed above Penang, sailed in the South China sea, swum with whale sharks in the Philippines, and enjoyed far too many other experiences to list

All of these things are wonderful, but they only reflect my outward journey.  The inward journey I’ve made is less apparent but far more important. Through my experiences around the globe I’ve developed into a new man, with new priorities, new values, and a new life path.

Cover photo for this article courtesy of Greg Goodman, Adventures of Goodman.

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