Ok I figured I needed to get an opinion piece out there, or whatever you may call it. I need to tell you some of the thoughts that go around my never resting travel brain. You can pick my brain so to speak, as I would love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments.
The main thought right now is how last minute unplanned decisions can end up being the best ones you ever make. Whether it be travel, or life in general, it can be a hell of a lot more fun with the quick “fuck it, let’s do it” mentality.
When I started travelling all the way back in 1997 (seems like soooo long ago now) it was partly because I was unsure what to do with my life.
I was 20 years old, a lot of my friends had gone to university or were trying to get themselves into a career, my best friend had just gone to jail (mental breakdown after his dad died sent him in the wrong direction), and the general clubbing party scene of London (I’m British) was not as great as the early-mid 90’s, my party heyday. Has dance music been the same since? Anyway.
I had always had the feeling to travel (I guess from my upbringing moving around countries) and happened to see in a bookstore a guidebook by LetsGo saying how I could see Egypt on $10-15.
Fuck it I thought. lets do it!
So I got a crappy job in a factory for a few months packing boxes to get enough money for a few months of travel and the rest is history. Within the first few days in Cairo I got a job as a film extra in Egyptian movies. 18 years later and I’m still abroad.
I left to travel like so many young people to experience new things, but also to try and figure out what to do in life.
Travel is a form of escapism, which I learned very quickly and realised I wanted this to be my lifestyle, this was what I wanted in life – to see and experience everything life has to offer.
Sometimes you just have to go for it and take the risk.
If I had not taken that fast decision to say fuck everything I knew and just go, then who knows what may have happened in my life. I would not change anything that has happened in my life, it all leads to new things.
The opportunities that travel can bring.
Since I started travelling I have generally lived by the same rule of making last minute decisions when I travel, as it’s a lot more fun being spontaneous.
For example one of the best travel experiences I ever had was hanging out with tribes in the Central Papuan Highlands back in 2006. It came about while I was aimlessly wandering around Sulawesi Island in Indonesia, when I came across a Polish couple who had hiked and stayed with tribes in the middle of nowhere in Papua. Their stories convinced me and the very next day I was on a flight to the Papuan coast, followed by a flight to the central highlands.
Next thing I knew I was staying with these tribes way away from anything and having a mass celebration feast with thousands of tribal people and not another tourist in sight. All that came about from a quick last minute decision just to go, and got me one of my favourite travel photos ever.
After travelling down from Ethiopia to South Africa overland I was hanging out in Cape Town not sure where to go next. I started searching for cheap flights around the world to practically everywhere. I found one leaving the next day to Singapore for very cheap and just booked it and went. Upon arriving in Singapore I still didn’t know what to do (I had been in Singapore 10 times before that) so checked cheap flights around Asia.
Before I knew it I was finally in Japan and seeing one of the best countries I’ve ever been to.
All that from a quick last minute “fuck it, let’s do it” decision.
I ended up living in Amsterdam for a long time and using it as a base for travelling from. It all happened back in early 2000 when I was in Tel Aviv in Israel and at the time I thought I would pop back to England to work, and asked a travel agent for a cheap flight to London. Street travel agents… the old days…
Anyway they didn’t have a cheap flight to London for a few days but had a very cheap flight that evening to Amsterdam, and I figured I could get a cheap bus to London from there. So with a quick decision I headed to Amsterdam. Arriving with a bottle of vodka from Israel I got taken to an illegal hostel from the train station.
I met the owner of the hostel, who was a bit crazy to be honest, but we downed the whole bottle of vodka and talked shit before I vaguely remember going out and having a look around Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The rest of the night is a blur – honest!
The next day I woke up in the dorm room of the hostel with a serious hangover and the owner telling me I had to get out and work. Work? Yes it turns out in my drunken stupor I had mentioned that I was going to London to look for work as my money was running out and I needed some money to keep travelling. He had offered me a job working for him bringing backpackers from the station to his hostel, and I had accepted.
Again the “fuck it, lest do it” mentality came into affect and I stayed in Amsterdam. Some of my best life memories come from my times in Amsterdam. Life was good. I even ran my own business for a while there, all of that would never have come about if I hadn’t made a last minute decision.
Everything in life happens for a reason.
You’ve probably heard that phrase a gazillion times, but it can be very true.
One more short story on the fun of not knowing what to do and just going along with the flow.
I recently visited the Arctic up in Svalbard, somewhere I had wanted to go for a long time, but was put off by the costs. I was up in Iceland in January, a pretty cold time to be around that part of the world, and figured if I’m getting cold I might as well try and keep the same vibe going.
So jumping on Skyscanner and other flight search engines I started searching for cheap flights and was super happy to find a really cheap flight to Edinburgh, fly over to Oslo, and then up to Svalbard. Awesome! Only problem was that once there things get seriously expensive, with the few hotels that exist costing around $200 a night upwards. Fuck that for a budget traveller.
But then I was super happy to find couchsurfers way up in Arctic! Got to love couchsurfing. One local guy said he could put me up for a few nights, so I thought I would just go for a short time, the flights were cheap enough anyway.
Within the few days there I had met some of his friends while out drinking and a girl offered me to stay with her. So I ended up staying a few weeks in the Arctic in the middle of winter going dog-sledding, seeing the Northern Lights, ice caving, going drinking in some of the more surreal bars I have been to.
All that again from some quick last minute decision, and I managed to do a whole lot of stuff I had always wanted to do, as well as meeting some fun new friends.
The future for all of us, if you want it…
I’m writing this in Kiev, a city I had not really given much thought of visiting, until I was in Amsterdam seeing friends and having not much of a clue where to go. Again some quick cheap flight searches later and I was in Kiev, which has now sky-rocketed to one of my favourite cities in Europe.
The reason I’m writing this is not only to give you a glimpse into my travel and life thought making processes, but also because I get a lot of messages from readers curious about it.
I get questions about wanting to quit going to college to travel the world and live a life of adventure.
I get questions about not knowing where to go and what to do.
My opinion is.
Following your heart leads to a gut feeling that often comes with a last minute decision, and often that decision will be the right one, because it’s what your mind is screaming at you to do.
Not sure about college/university?
Well naturally you could take a year out and travel the world while figuring out if you want to go to college/university etc.
Bored with your current career and yearn for something else?
You would be surprised at the amount of opportunities that travelling can bring.
Would you prefer to teach English in Japan and learn a new culture and be totally blown away by a new experience?
Everything is possible and waiting for you.
Off course for some people it will be easier due to their circumstances with where they are from etc.
But if you want it you can get it, trust me.
I know people from Poland who taught English in China for a year and then went travelling with the money they saved.
I know people who had a stressful job at home and ended up quitting, took their savings and set up a cheap hostel in the Philippines.
Hell I know people who travel the world playing poker to fund their trip.
Start blogging, you never know, you could make it. It could happen in a year, or it could take a few. Just don’t give up. Never give up to do the things you want to do, work at it and reach for the dream.
Even now I need to force myself to keep making these last minute decisions to keep me going in the right direction.
Getting out of the comfort zone.
It may sound easy to say, but I’ve said it before that it’s not easy, but how the hell will you know if you don’t try. Sometimes it can be more difficult to make this decision, if you have children or a career for example you need to obviously think more.
But for those unattached you have the perfect freedom.
So for all of you out there who have come across this post and are trying to figure things out in life, from the young beginning their journey, to the older looking for a change, you will never know if you can make the change you want until you just go for it.
It can be scary. It can be hard. But –
It can be life changing.
For the better…
Ok, I hope I didn’t ramble to much.
P.S. For the haters.
I love you guys to! 🙂