Have you ever gone on a solo trip that changed the course of your life completely?
I went to Australia on a working holiday in 2012.
This was something that I'd always wanted to do, but I never had the balls to go through with it.
I had intended to go after finishing university. However, I struggled to muster up the courage. I ended up working in a betting shop which was soul destroying.
About 7 months into the job, I was hit by a car while cycling home.
I was a very lucky boy. I was not wearing a helmet. Had I arrived at that point in the road a few seconds earlier, I might not be typing these words now.
Luckily, I got away with a few bruises and scratches.
However, that was the moment I realised that I couldn't drift through life. We're here for a short time and we should make the most of our time on this beautiful planet.
A few months later, I got my visa, booked my flight and I was on my way to spend a year in Australia.
I remember the flight vividly. I was petrified of the plane landing.
I realised that it was the first time in my life, that I was truly on my own. On the other side of the planet, where I knew no one. It was a scary thought.
I quickly realised I had been worrying about nothing. The freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted was intoxicating.
I had the time of my life travelling around Australia, seeing some incredible places. I made some lifelong friends and worked in one of the best jobs I've ever had.
My confidence skyrocketed. I was no longer shy around new people. I realised that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything.
This trip influenced my life so much, that I now live overseas and even have a travel blog! Talk about trips changing your life!
The main thing that I took away from the trip was that life is too short to have regrets.
If you want to go on that trip do it. If you want to quite your job do it. Its better to fail at something, than to not try and never know!
Another thing that I took away from the trip was that I'm prone to accidents with cars! Cycling to work in Melbourne, I was knocked into the middle of the road!
Cars really don't like me!
I am not sure if this is the type of a story people would be interested to read, maybe some will even judge me that... What I did was wrong, but... This was a trip that definitely changed the course of my life.
It happened some time ago, 6 years after I got married. It wasn't my first solo trip (I traveled a lot on my own before I got married), but it was my first ever trip in a motor-home. I went to New Zealand and I decided to go around the South Island. As soon as the rental place opened it's door I was there to I picked up my vehicle and I went on the road. I was very joyful and excited, finally I was free to do this what I love doing so much without any fear of being... yelled at and diminished. I love going and discovering new places, I love learning new cultures, I love meeting new people, I love beholding breathtaking vistas. I simply love driving wherever the road takes me and enjoy my life.
"I'm taking a year off to go travel the world with my boyfriend¨ said my colleague in between the gray and beige walls of our cubicle.
Just a few seconds after she told me, I knew that it was also time for me to finally pack up and go.
After a few years of doing the typical 9 to 5, paying bills and climbing the corporate ladder, I felt like I hit a dead end. I had been making all the right decisions and doing what was expected of me until that point but was feeling unfulfilled.
Just like the broken clock on my wall, I felt like my life had stopped moving forward.
After requesting a gap year to my boss, turning my home office into an Airbnb for extra cash, selling my car, letting go of my apartment and most of my belongings, there I was sitting alone at the airport with my back pack, a camera and a few Lonely Planets, waiting for my red eye flight to Santiago de Chile.
Some of the people closest to me had a hard time supporting and understanding my decision. Despite the self doubt and anxiety that they were feeding, I knew in my gut that I had to press the reset button and begin a transition towards a life and career better aligned with who I am.
So I got on that plane without looking back.
The minute I got out of the airport and felt that hot summer air, I knew everything was going to be alright. I made a friend a few hours later. He was a local. He spent the week showing me around Santiago. This was going to be my life for the next few months. I had no commitments. No one was expecting me anywhere. It was freedom.
I made my way up to Costa Rica in the four months that followed. I backpacked my way north through mountains, deserts and jungles, saw the most amazing landscapes and met some incredible people.
Geraldine, a French girl working as a lawyer in Paris who's boyfriend of seven years cheated on her with a model. She left him, packed up her things and got on a plane. It was both our first time seeing the Pacific. We stripped down to our underwear and jumped into the ocean.
Willy, a beautiful guy from Arequipa, Peru who made me discover his home town. We spent the week biking around the city, watching sunsets and talking about each other's lives while listening to music. Despite the language barrier, we understood each other. He said I was lucky to be able to see the world. Three weeks later, he met me in the Amazon.
Between a summer internship and going back to college, I had a few weeks off and a few hundred dollars saved up. I got in my car and started driving. I bought a deluxe edition, leather bound Rand McNally for North America (this was before the advent of ubiquitous cell phones and GPS devices) and had two rules, 1) no highways, and 2) no destination.
I drove through about twenty states over the next two weeks. Stopped and slept where I felt like it. Started off in NYC and ended up as far south as Louisiana and as far north as Michigan. I slept in the car or shady truck stops towns. Drove along the coast and would sometimes just sleep on the beach. I ended up in Atlanta and went to the Coke museum and CNN headquarters and even got myself on an airing of Talkback live.
I passed through a treasure chest of small towns and met some fascinating people and some really scary people and some friendly people. I went through small college towns and dropped in on friends I hadn't seen in many years, and ended up in Sandusky, OH and went to Cedar Point. I went to Myrtle Beach and did the touristy stuff there and then got out again and kept driving. Driving alone in North America is fabulous, especially if you're not stuck behind a truck on the interstate.
Yeah it did, it completely changed my ambition and attitude towards life, money and success. I lost a lot of friends at home and gained a lot that I'll have to wait years to see. I also started being creative in new mediums.
But these are all good things.
I also, very stereotypically, decided to let my hair grow, a lot (why spend the money to cut it?)
Anyway, travelling for me was hardly about the things I saw or what I did, for example:
Here's me at the peak of a little hike in south-eastern France.
I spent four months traveling Europe solo last year.
Though I've lived in China before as a foreign exchange student, I'd never done a solo trip like this.
The truth of the matter is that as a solo traveler you're never really solo.
If you stay at hostels or are open to meeting other people, you'll quickly understand how to never travel ‘solo'.
Though I started my trip solo, by the end of it I had dozens of new friends around the world.
Below I'll tell two of my favorite stories:
Yes I went to Santorini and Mykonos but if you want to get away from the crowds, you need to go to more local islands. I spent a month in Greece, hoping wherever I thought sounded cool.
On Naxos, I stayed in a rather small hostel right by the beach.
I shared a dorm with a dude from Australia and another guy from Turkey.
We all hung out together and one day the dude from Australia decided to rent ATVs around the island.
We spent the whole day riding, going wherever we wanted, cruising up and down dirt roads.
We saw a few other tourists here and there, but made it on a lot of trails where it was just it.
It was epic.
On May 8th, 2017, I flew to London.
I was alone.
I visited my friend in Glasgow for a few days. Then I went back to London.
London is cold, rainy, and not my scene. So, I flew to Budapest.
I was in Budapest from May 18th until June 17th.
While in Budapest, I became friends with a guy named Matt on Facebook.
Matt is an entrepreneur. I'm not an entrepreneur yet, but I want to be, so I think Matt is cool.
Naturally, I stalked Matt's Facebook to see what his life is like.
While stalking his Facebook, I saw this status: