"You are making the biggest mistake of your life! You have no idea how to look after yourself! There is just no way you will last more than two weeks..."
I will be totally honest with you - Nobody ever told me that or maybe they did but I just refused to listen. Ever since I was a small child I have been curious. A curiosity that led me to exploration & has pushed my life in a direction that revolves purely around experience.
Money has never meant much to me & neither has a career, white fence, big house, three Mercedes, a wife & some kids. I am aware that for some of you these things do mean something and that is completely fine.
This blog is for you.
We live in a society that is so strongly dictated by what other people expect from us. An expectation so powerful that it often stops you and I from pursuing the things we really want. In most cases that first powerful experience that we miss out on as adults is Travel.
Are you feeling the pressure from those around you to just give up on your travel dreams?
Are all of your friends and family pressuring you to attend university, get a career or start saving for a house? You know that you want that eventually but you just aren't ready yet?
Find all these nay sayers, get there attention and then repeat after me - "Go F*CK yourselves! I'm going traveling!"
Related - 47 Ways to Work while Traveling
Travel will change your life.
The experiences that you gain from travel will change how you see life & yourself forever. Sometimes these life changing experiences will come from harsh lessons. Moments that leave you wondering if you have made a huge mistake.
You will also experience moments of complete and utter joy. You will see things that give you a renewed hope in humanity & a greater understanding of what it truly means to be alive. Let me share 8 experiences that changed my life & the lessons they came with.
001 - The World is Kind!
Whenever I plan to go somewhere that people consider dangerous I am made very aware of all the negatives first. Sure there are dangers but most of the negativity that you hear is simply not true or incredibly unlikely.
I had found myself in Ontario in a small town called Pembroke. Pembroke was known for two things: the outdoors & a serious meth problem. It was not your typical tourist stop off, but I loved white water kayaking and some of the best kayaking was to be had on the Ottawa river.
I had a car and no where to stay. Luckily I new a guy in the area and I thought to myself, 'Maybe he will let me crash one night until I can find something more permanent.' 4 Weeks later & I was still in Pembroke kayaking everyday.
This group of university students had allowed me access to their home for free without any expectations. They showed me around, helped me get to the river everyday & gave me free beer. Who would have thought to experience such kindness in a town with such a poor reputation.
The Lesson - The world is kind
"What if you get mugged?"
"I heard it's dangerous. You might get killed!"
and one of my all time favourite comments - "I heard they hate white people..."
I have learnt to block that negativity out and tend to have confidence in this simple fact.
The world is inherently kind. When I talk with people about my travels they are often taken aback by some of the countries and locations I have visited.
I understand, I used to feel the same way. It is hard to have an open perspective on a world that is portrayed so negatively by mainstream media. Traveling removes these prejudice views and gives you a glimpse at the true kindness that pulsates around the world.
The world has dangers and it is best to not be naive. Travel has inherent risks and dangers that you should be aware of but it also has a well of kindness that spans the entire globe. Everywhere I have traveled I have made friends, been shown kindness & felt welcomed.
See Also - 10 of the Cheapest Places to Travel in 2018
002 - We are all equal
I once heard a tale, I cannot remember where I heard it and cannot find any backing literature but it is relevant nonetheless.
An Indian man living in poverty walked up to a prince, he said to the prince so that everyone could hear - 'I want to make a bet with you. In death you will only be worth a silk sheet more than me. If I am right then you must give me a silk sheet.'
The prince with his rooms full of gold laughed at the peasant man, 'You must take me for a fool. I am worth millions more than you will ever be! I accept your bet.' The peasant explained that the only reason the prince would be worth a silk sheet more in death is because his dead body would be wrapped in a silk sheet (signifying royalty).
The peasant would only be wrapped in a regular sheet. The prince was so embarrassed at his humiliation that he ordered the peasant to be killed but he spent the rest of his life in despair unable to comprehend that in the end we are all equal.
We were exploring the incredible Ninh Binh province of Vietnam. Our guide was probably earning $350 USD a month but during that time the topic of money never came up. We talked extensively about photography, creating & building a website to write blogs.
He was passionate about the same things I was and regardless of our financial differences we were equals. Just two humans coming together to talk about their passions.
The Lesson - We are all Equal
I am not rich by first world standards but in third world countries my financial wealth is beyond what most people will make in their entire life. Traveling to third world countries and making friends with the local people makes you realise perhaps the most important lesson of all. We are all equal!
When it comes down to it we all have blood, bones, organs and minds. We may speak different languages, drive different cars or live in different conditions but we are all human. Travel will teach you to treat everyone as an equal regardless of their social standing.
003 - Travel will push you past your comfort zone
Travel - and we are not talking about family vacations - will take you to some pretty crazy places. Places that will scare you and push you beyond what you think you are capable of achieving.
We were on route to Homer, Alaska. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted them, 'Stop the car!' I yelled. There - just 100 metres away on the side of the road - stood a mother moose and her calf. I had just started learning about my new DSLR and wanted to get some photos.
I was scared! Moose are incredibly dangerous animals, they weigh up to a ton and will charge if they feel threatened. They can and will kill you. I was careful with my movements and made sure that with every step the mother knew I was around and did not feel as if I was threatening her or her calf.
I remember looking into the mothers eyes (from about 20 metres away), I swear we had some sort of connection at that point. An awareness of each others existence. She was comfortable with me & I was comfortable with her, and then they were gone.
The Lesson - Travel will push you past your comfort zone
The places you visit while traveling will often force you to break past your barriers and allow you to experience the personal growth that you can only attain outside of your comfort zone.
Not only will travel break you out of your comfort zone it will allow you to expand your comfort zone. As your comfort zone grows so to will your experiences, your confidence & your ability to grow and learn.
004 - Assume people know things you don't
Travel opens your mind to this crazy possibility. The possibility that you are probably wrong about a lot of things. Living in comfort, routine and security gives us this false sense of knowledge. If it is working for me now then why try and fix it?
Travel opens us up to the possibility that people know things that we don't.
I used to be one stubborn son of a b*tch! I had my own routine when it came to flying and I will be honest with you it was sh*t. I would turn up at the airport with no toothbrush, no water bottle and barely anything to help me sleep on the plane.
I would rock up to my new travel destination feeling like a recently castrated puppy & looking far worse. 'It works for me!' I would constantly proclaim. As I traveled more and began to open up to the idea that I am wrong about most things. I began to ask what other people do to make their journeys easier.
Low and behold I found out some incredible tips and tricks that have revolutionized my in flight experiences.
The Lesson - Assume people know things you don't
First of all travel makes you realise something pretty counter-intuitive: You are wrong about everything and you will never be 100% right. Neither will I though, does that mean this whole blog is wrong... probably in some way.
As you travel more you begin to understand that nobody is ever 100% right about anything. We are all just trying to be less wrong. By assuming that other people know things that you don't. You allow yourself to learn faster & become a much happier and more efficient person.
005 - Travel gives you confidence
If you are someone that struggles with self confidence then my biggest advice to you is, Travel by yourself. For a while at least, traveling with others is also an amazing experience but it is solo travel that truly enables you to push past your anxiety and self doubt.
'Hmm... I have no idea where I am going to stay tonight.' I had a few days to kill before picking up work at a summer camp in North Carolina. My travel card had just been blocked and I was struggling to find a place to stay for free. At the time I was pretty anxious about asking people for help.
I doubted myself and would constantly worry about the negative repercussions. It was stupid, but I think we all go through periods of self doubt. I was by myself though and had no choice, either I asked for help or I slept on the street.
I asked a friend who I had worked with at the camp the previous year. He had a place I could crash, it was in a trailer park but it was a bed with some shelter and it even came with some breakfast.
I went on to shoot shotguns with his housemates the following day and witness one of them almost blow his foot off. I also went on to grow more confident with myself. I had experiences that I would have never attempted prior to travel. I worked amazing jobs, went on crazy adventures and talked with incredible people.
Travel - especially solo travel - puts you in situations that require action. At the time these actions feel uncomfortable but as you encounter more challenging situations something awesome happens.
You grow more and more confident in yourself. You realise that you will fail sometimes but that's OK. Failure & rejection is nothing to fear, it provides important lessons. Lessons you can apply in your next challenging situation. Travel makes you a more confident person.
006 - You will worry less
Anxiety & stress is a huge part of life in today's world. Before the age of deadlines, emails, internet & social media - way back when we lived in huts and spent our days trading, hunting & building - the only stress we had to worry about was acute stress.
That Lion is running toward me so I need to get the f*ck out of the way! Nowadays our acute stresses have been replaced with chronic stress. 'F*ck this project deadline is in an hour and I still have so many emails to catch up on.' Our brains are not yet fast or efficient enough to deal with this kind of stress.
"How the hell did I let this happen?" It was the beginning of winter in BC, Canada. I had no room of my own, minimal food, no job and... $5 Canadian to my name. At least I had a snowboard.
I was so worried and came incredibly close to throwing in the towel & calling mum for help. I was lucky to be traveling with my ex-girlfriend so I at least had some support. Still, I was stressed. I needed a job ASAP.
After days of stressing and getting know were with applications I realized I needed to relax and think straight. First thing I needed was money, so I stopped worrying about where I wanted to work & focused instead on getting work. Yep I got a job at McDonalds.
I was no longer worried about money & as my worries began to fade away and my focus increased so to did my opportunities. I got the bar job I really wanted, I was able to snowboard everyday, we found a house that was perfect & I began eating more than just Ramen.
The Lesson - Travel will teach you to worry less
The stress that you have to face during travel will teach you a valuable lesson. Worry leads to more worry and does not get you any closer to a solution. As you face decisions that require urgent action - Acute Stress - something amazing happens.
You get comfortable with stress, you begin to worry less and focus more on finding solutions. Travel will teach you to worry less.
We do Mindset Blogs to - Mindset
007 - Be Open minded & accepting
Start saying Yes!
Society is becoming more and more individualistic, we are no longer open minded to the views of others and we struggling to accept new ideas. Travel can change that.
I remember sitting at the Hostel listening to this guy lecture me on the dangers of riding in a chicken bus (public buses) while in Guatemala. 'You might get hijacked by cartel's!' I decided I needs to be more open minded about the situation. So I talked with some locals & did some research of my own.
I decided that the chances of things going wrong were slim and that I would be accepting of the cramped conditions. The experiences I had in Chicken buses are some of the most memorable. Sure it was cramped, sweaty and uncomfortable but it was a unique experience.
Besides it was a fraction of the price, met some amazing locals, tried some unique street food (yep they sell on the bus) and we weren't kidnapped by cartels!
The Lesson - Be open minded & accepting
Travel will teach you to be open minded & accepting of your situation & of others. New ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. Allowing yourself to be open minded & accepting will open you up to so many new possibilities.
008 - Gratitude is the key to happiness
I was - for lack of better words - a little Sh*t!
I consider myself lucky. Paulo & I went through some rough times as children but honestly who doesn't. Our mother got us through, she was the one who bore the brunt of the hard times and for that I am forever grateful. Mum, if you are reading, we love you more than you will ever know.
Rewind a decade and post school/post military Jacques was an ungrateful little sh*t. I was entitled! I believed that I deserved more, needed more & should be given more. Travel changed that.
I was in Nicaragua & we were celebrating life at a local bar in San Juan Del Sur. We had met some locals who were happily showing us around. They were broke and lived off less than $450 USD a month! Yet they were buying everything before we could even lift a finger.
At one point I managed to pull away using the excuse, 'Necesito ir al Baño' (I need to go to the toilet). I got up and made my way to the bar and purchased a round of drinks, it cost me about $5.
I returned to the table and handed out drinks until everyone had a fresh drink sitting in front of them. Naturally I thought nothing of it, it was just a round of drinks after all. The gratitude I experienced from our local Nicaraguan friends was almost overwhelming.
These incredible people worked from dawn to dusk every single day just to put food on their tables. They had broken down houses, dealt with daily rejection & were still prepared to offer everything they had to a random stranger (me).
Even after all this they were still so incredibly grateful just to receive a drink that was worth less than $1!
The Lesson - Gratitude
Travel will make you realise how truly grateful you should be. Sure you may have had a rough day at work, your partner may have just dumped you or you may not be able to afford that cute Gucci bag that are all the rave.
Are you alive? Are you breathing? Do you have access to medical care? Can you comfortably access clean water? Do you get the chance to earn a reasonable living?
If your answer is yes. Then you have no reason to be ungrateful, you are currently living in the top 1%. Travel will teach you to be more grateful.
Travel is a life changing experience for anyone who is willing to move past the hotel lobby and resort spa. Paulo and I urge you to buy that one way ticket while you are still young & get some real life education. If you think you are to old to learn from travel, think again. Age means nothing!
Enjoyed the blog? Let us know in the comments below and share it with your friends on social media. All our socials are linked below.
Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques.