At the age of 35 I quit my job, bought a backpack and started to travel around the world without plans. I travelled for over 1,5 years and my life changed for good on the road. How it started and where I am now? Here is my story. I really hope more stories like this will get you out and do whatever you love (meant) to do.
Buying more freedom? How?
I used to work in London for a big, well respected media company. I lived the great, busy London life: quite good pay slips, parties, great friends. Everything seemed really fantastic, still I felt something was missing. I thought maybe I needed to move up the career-ladder as I was doing the same job for a while. But I was just not into shuffling more papers and sitting through more meetings. Also I felt, it was not fair in life that I had to wait 1 year for 2-3 weeks of FREEDOM, I mean holiday. I thought even if I got more money it still would not buy me more days for holidays. Buying the newest phone and moving to a better area would not give me the freedom either. It would just provide better circumstances to the same life. I felt stuck and just was not sure what to do.
The latte that changed my life for good
On a cold rainy winter day in west London I met a friend who just came back from a 6 months long Southeast Asia backpacking trip. We ordered our lattes and sat down in a café. Ian was so skinny, tanned and his face was beaming from all his adventures. He started to tell his story and then within five minutes I just drifted into my thoughts and I said to myself: I want to do this. But I wanted to see the whole world without plans. So I decided that I would sell all my stuff and pack the rest in a backpack. By the time we left the café, my brain was set. I knew I was going to buy a one way ticket and start to travel around the world without plans until my money runs out. Somehow I just felt this was missing, it just felt so right. So the next day I started to save money and get everything sorted. 1,5 years later I quit my job, sold everything and left.
I am not an “I wish” man anymore
I really believe that everyone deserves a life they would like to have. But most people do not even think what they really want as they are far too busy collecting money for material things that they do not actually need and trying to please far too many people. Or they know what they really want but have no confidence to go after their dreams.
Not sure what these people’s last words will be: “I wish….”? Do not be one of them. Not everybody’s dream is to travel but after reading this article please give yourself 5 minutes at your desk and think to yourself -what would I really like to do in life. I would be very happy if you commented your dream under the article and started to work for it. It is never too late to work for your dreams. Maybe you are telling yourself that you are too old for this… Then what are you going to say to yourself in 10 years? I wish I were 10 years younger? So the time is right, just right now.
1,5 years around the world, in a world where it’s always the poor who help
I started in Kathmandu where I helped after the earthquake and trekked the Himalayas. 1,5 years later I found myself at the most southern point of South America. I slept at various places first hostels then absolute randomly under bridge, next to the road or even in the green that separates the motorway, in an old oil pipe, a sinking campsite, in the wilderness…wherever the sun set. When I was covering myself with my warm duvet in my pretty room in London I never thought that I was ever gonna love sleeping next to the road. I also Iearned how to fish in Patagonia and collected berries/mushrooms that the locals said could be eaten in the area. What is interesting that along my way it was always poor people who tried to help me or tired to feed me (which I always tried to kindly refuse) and gave me shelter as they thought I was homeless. The world is full of beautiful hearted people.
I did not just go to see the world. But I wanted to taste a world with no expectations and no alarm clocks. Most people’s lives are just like mine was before: you wake up and switch on the autopilot, you know what you have to do, who you need to please on that day etc. The same stuff from Monday to Friday. I felt life was like a well planned excel sheet. Your autopilot stays switched on until you go to bed… and then the alarm goes off….. So I switched off my autopilot, alarm clock and since then every day is spontaneous and a surprise. I can do what I want every day and surround myself with only those people who really care about me and vice versa. I have been living this life for over 2,5 years now and I can tell you it is pretty damn good. Although my standard of living very low now but at the same time I have never been happier.
Starting from scratch
Starting life from zero is really exciting, you learn so many new things and you also meet a lot of amazing people along the way. When I moved to England with one suitcase and £45 in my pocket back in 2005 I started everything from zero. I built up a completely new life. Life I never dared to dream of just because I worked hard and believed in myself. I am in a similar situation, now the only difference is that I do not want to work hard for someone else but for myself and do what my passion is.
When I sat on that airplane to Kathmandu I was not sure what the future holds for me and I thought -Maybe I will run back to my well established London life. I was just hoping that something new was waiting for me. That plane really flew me into a brand new life. Many people told me that I was far too old to start backpacking when I left. The people who told me these have probably never done anything in their lives what they really wanted, no matter their age. As for me, I do not think you are ever going to be too old to start the life you want.
Life on my own path
Everything is uncertain or at least at the beginning as you are on a completely new path. Some people think living a free life is easy. It is not. I wake up every day and decide what to do and where to go or who to speak to. On autopilot you do not have this responsibility as you exactly know what to do.
But this is the beauty of this path. I do not know my life beforehand. Everything is up to me not up to others. This gives me a freedom to be flexible and do whatever I want. If you are on autopilot mode life just goes on a well trodden path which does not allow you to find the right (your own) path. Am I on the right path? Yes. Do I know where it leads? No clue. How do I know that it is the right path? I follow my heart, and it just feels right. Am I scared of the future? No, I am rather excited about what life holds for me.
New life without regrets but maybe with more failures then ever
I live on a super extreme low budget. If you do not have a stable job, you can live wherever is cheap, do not need to pay for commute etc. Life is very cheap if you are flexible. Also if you live this kind of life you realise material things are not important so I save a lot of money on them too. Also realised along the way what my passion is and started to build a business around it. I hope I will succeed but if not with no regrets will continue my life. My main goal in life is not to have regrets and do whatever makes me and my loved ones happy. But this kind of life contains of course many low times and failures too. But I am not afraid of them.
Will see what future holds for me. Stay tuned:)
What I wanted to say basically with this article is that life has never been better. I hope that one day all of you will do whatever you meant to do.
I am holding a talk in Notting Hill in January, and another talk in February in east London please come along if you would like to get some information, tricks and tips on low budget travelling around the world and endless inspiration.