In November 2015, I ripped up my roots, packed a backpack, and left everything I knew behind by buying a one-ticket to Bangkok. The result? I traveled, lived, and worked remotely in twelve countries for a year, and my top learnings from the whole experience were things I never expected.
This is what I learned from traveling around the world for a year.
Change is easier than you think.
During my journey, I lived in three places long term: Bali, Barcelona, and Morocco. Every time I set up camp in these digital nomad hubs, I got an apartment, roommates, friends, a coworking space, favorite eating spots, and a life in the city. But since I was traveling with tourist visas, no matter how settled I became, I had to move out of my new life every 1-3 months.
Every time before I had to leave I’d think, “Aw man! I just made a life here. I have my daily routine, my friends, my running route, my favorite lunch journaling spot, I’m sad to leave! I’m going to miss it here so much!”
Then I’d leave. And as soon as I got to my next destination, my mind was completely transported to the present and I instantly adapted to living in my new surroundings. Every single time it was as if my “last life” was out of sight, out of mind, and I was fully ready and amped to conquer my even newer life.
I’ve found that what stops most people from doing something new is that they’re scared of change and to leave their current comfort behind. Here’s the thing, though: your current comfort goes away almost immediately when you make space for the new. Sure, you always remember your old experiences, but there’s nothing like continually exploring the unknown until that becomes your daily normal. Before you know it (like within a day), everything but your right now is just a figment of the the old you.
New friends are fast to come (and can last a lifetime).
They’re open, friendly, down-to-earth, and just get it in a way that friends from home don’t. They’ve seen things. They’ve done things. They’ve been there. They’ve started million dollar businesses from fishing villages in Asia. Best yet: they’re often location-independent, which means they just keep traveling to new places, so you’ll see them again in a different amazing world location to explore.
In fact, I hung out with my Bali villa-mate in Kuala Lumpur where we danced at a ridiculous party on a rooftop. I hung out with a friend from Morocco in San Francisco.
The rest? The friends I made great connections with I still talk to regularly, and I know that I will see them again in some awesome part of the world in the future. If you don’t want it to be, nothing is goodbye forever.
Your environment is everything.
Here’s the thing: when you work in a 9-5 and do the same thing all day everyday, you don’t have the mindset that anything else is possible. You want to start a business and be location-independent and put yourself out there and conquer the unknown? Very difficult if the people you are around all day every day don’t see this as possible.
So you want to live your dream? Leave. And do it now. Put yourself around the people who are living what you want to do, are being the kind of person you want to be, are thinking the way you think, and you’ll get there.
That’s exactly what I did: I wanted to travel the world while working remotely. So I bought a one-way ticket to be around all the people who were traveling the world and working remotely. Now I am one of them. My dream is now my reality.
You define what’s possible for you.
Mindset is everything. What you believe to be true is what you take action on. What you take action on yields your results. Your results make up your reality.
So, don’t believe it’s possible to travel the world by yourself and work remotely? Well, you will never do it. But shift your thoughts to instead believe it is? See you on the next flight.
I had daydreamed about traveling the world and working from wherever for about four years before I finally did. Why did I finally do it? Because I decided to believe that I could. That it was possible. That by doing this I would find the path I really wanted to find.
Without this belief shift? I’d still be at a desk in San Francisco. Plain and simple.
We always prove our beliefs to be right, because we take action based on what we think is possible. Learn this now, and use it to your advantage. Take a solid look at everything you believe to be true and false, possible and not possible, and if they do not serve you and your goals and dreams, change them. Shift your beliefs, shift your reality.
Nothing is that hard (you can travel the world cheap).
Never once did I not have a place to sleep, no matter how last-minute I booked a hotel. I only got sick twice in a whole year (and I didn’t follow the cooked/peel/canned rule for more than a month). There are people everywhere that speak English, no matter what. There are hubs of expats literally all over the world, even in tiny little fishing villages in Africa.
There is wifi everywhere. Local sim cards in almost every country. A flight home is one Google Flights booking away. There is always a bus or car to get you from point A to point B. It’s not that expensive. If you do your research, are vigilant, and don’t do something incredibly stupid, everywhere you choose to go is generally safe.
Traveling the world or doing something big and new is not that hard. It just takes the balls to actually do it.
You will develop extreme confidence and independence.
A given. In fact, growing an insane amount as a person is unavoidable. I mean, when you travel the world for a whole year, alone, this is just a default side effect.
I love hanging out with myself. I talk to almost everyone I encounter. I make friends easily. I’m self-sufficient. I can literally figure anything out. I depend on myself. I can pack up my bags at any moment and go anywhere in the world without a blink. And when I get there, I’ll make it my new home instantly.
Solo travel is a killer of shyness, co-dependence, fear, and self-consciousness. So beware: Choose to do something big and new? You may not recognize your old self after.
What’s life like after an experience like this?
I will never be the same. I will never go back to who I was or where I was or what I was doing before. I can’t. It’s impossible. Why? Because I have seen so much more. I’ve seen the limits that the average American puts on themselves. I’ve seen how limiting beliefs hold people back, and how it’s so possible to change your thoughts and change your reality. How literally anything is possible if you just freaking do it.
I’ve lived around the world. How could staying in one place, let alone my old stomping grounds, ever compare? It can’t. Now I have to grow. I have to change. I have to push myself forward. I have to do scary things. I have to put myself out there. Anything else would be a disservice to myself and my potential.
I strongly, strongly encourage you to do the same. Do that big, new, scary thing you’ve always wanted. You’ll never look back and you’ll end up on this insane path that you’d never find otherwise. It’ll change you for the better. Promise.