2 Insights From 1 Year of World Travel
- Aaron Ramirez
- October 22, 2013
- Get my latest updates here
A year ago, I set off on my world trip, with no idea what this experience would lead to. It’s impossible for me to capture in a single blog post, the multiple ways that this journey has transformed me—I can however, reflect on how I arrived here, and share the two most significant insights that my travels have led me to so far.
The seedling of my decision to travel the world, was planted over 10 years ago. Well before I completed university or worked my first full-time job, I had promised myself to never become a work-a-holic, and to live a life full of rich experiences. In fact, my goal was to be able to retire by age 32. Later, in 2006, with almost no travel experience, I departed on my first backpacking trip through Europe. I was hooked. Since my return, I never went a single month without traveling somewhere. During one 4 week period, I had taken 6 round trip flights, in between long hours at my job. My travel adventures were great, yet short. Also, I loved my job as a software engineer, but those 80 hour work weeks would quickly leave me burnt out and completely stressed. My decision was clear and simple: I’ll likely want to spend the rest of my life working—therefore, I would be an idiot, if I didn’t travel the world for at least a year.
There will always be a million reasons, for not doing that which you wish for—so don’t waste your time wishing for things to happen. Once I decided to be a world traveler, everything became easier. I secretly enlisted my friends in pushing me on, by telling those closest to me about my plans, a couple years prior. Within the 6 months leading up to my departure, almost everyone knew. Changing my plans was no longer an option. My decision brought new clarity. It was the perfect time for leaving my amazing job; for selling my new car and most of my belongings; and that the hurt and pain created from ending a relationship, well… even that would be for our betterment. So when I started my journey on October 1st, 2012, I had no regrets, as I knew deep down, I was leading my life in the direction of where I wanted to go.
Not the Solo Traveler I Thought I Was
The biggest misperception I had, was that a year long trip of solo travel, would lead to an experience of being fully independent—how completely wrong I was. Since the start of my travels, I’ve been dependent on others. My parents had to ship me forgotten items from home; I’ve been cared for by near strangers, on multiple occasions, while sick in South East Asia; over a hundred people have given me lifts, when hitchhiking; and I spent nearly my entire summer in Europe, being hosted by friends, or friends of friends, that I’ve met while traveling.
Before my travels, I was largely self delusional, with beliefs that I arrived at this point in life, mostly due to pure hard work—today, I’m often happy to put my full faith in others. Yea, I paid my own way through college, but it was my parents who went through great lengths, to provide for me, and give me the reasons I needed, for staying out of serious trouble; it was my grade school teacher who convinced me to pursue a career in computers; it was my best friend who picked my depressed ass off the floor, over the slow length of a year; and nearly every time I get off a bus or train, it is a local or another tourist, who explains to me how to get to my destination.
There’s No Need to Travel the World
"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." - Gilbert K. Chesterton
Another thing that world travel has revealed to me, is that I don’t have to go to far off foreign countries, to experience the rich way of life that I seek. Of course, I’m not ready to give up my passport anytime soon—yet, after seeing so many foreign lands, and different ways of living, I appreciate my hometown so much more. I understand now, how interesting a stranger on a local bus can be, along with the co-worker that I’ve seen for years, who I never bothered to talk to. That there are endless amounts of exploring I can still do in the hills, mountains, and city streets of Los Angeles. That one of my best days at the office, was just as exciting as skydiving above a tropical rainforest. What’s so beautiful about this discovery, for those of you who haven’t made it, is that it isn’t intuitive, and it goes against the beliefs of most of us. The only way to find this out for yourself (or to disprove it), is for you to travel extensively.
Over 20 countries later, and my trip is yet to be over—although, I’ve been finding myself naturally winding down. I’ve been doing far less sightseeing lately, and more so, just living abroad. I have the means to keep going for another 3 years or longer, but there is more to life than travel for me. I’m spending my last weeks in France, with my Parisian girlfriend, while waiting for my next visa to be processed. It’s time to get out of comfort zone once again, as I believe my next destination, India, will test me more than any other country that I’ve been to so far.
The experiences of 10 years, have been compressed into my last 12 months. I have grown so much since the day I started my journey. Soon, it will be time for me give back in a big way. I recently had the courage to pass up on probably the best job opportunity anyone could present to me, in order to pursue my next dream—which is to create a new product or business, that will change the world for the better (along with generating a profit). There will most certainly be more world travel sprinkled in there, along with the inevitable struggles. The important thing though, is that I’m allowing my heart to lead me through each new path I take, as best I can. Still no regrets, and my happiness is felt, whenever I take the moment to notice that I’m actually living the rich life that I originally wanted, and remembering that I always have been.
What have you gained from travel?
What are your two biggest learning experiences from traveling? Please let me know in the comment section below.