Fear & Loathing in Las Nomad: Admissions Of A Wannabe Nomad.
Fear Doesn’t Go Away When You “Fake It Til You Make It”
So a funny thing can happen when you “fake it til you make it,” and decide to go down a relatively unknown path with reckless abandon. People may actually think you have your sh*t together and know what you’re doing. I get it. Why would someone choose to do something if it brought them uncalculated uncertainty, mental and emotional distress, insecurity in life or financial matters, and so much more unknown annoying loveliness? Well, it does seem pretty silly when I just paint it into words like that!
I want to lay a little of my journey to this moment out for you so that you can…hopefully…find some “inspiration.” Still realizing that “now” is still scary as hell for me, and I’m guessing with every new challenge will continue to be. (I swear, sometimes I feel like Joey when I use quotes. Am I doing this right?!)
Change Is Hard…But Usually Worth The Discomfort
I also hope to inspire you to take chances and pursue rewards that are much bigger than you individually. That change is hard, but rewarding if you do it for the right reasons.
Disclaimer: In the grand scheme of life, my little bits of fear or stress towards travel or letting loose of personal comfort are so inconsequential and minuscule compared to other physical or emotional struggles that people are going through every day.
I’m not questioning that.
Please do me a solid and understand that this is about my and your internal, mental struggles and the choice to overcome them. To push our respective envelopes in a quest to be better and reflect better on the world, by putting ourselves out there in a way that isn’t comfortable.
Hugs & High Fives…
A Little Backstory Before We Tackle The Fear
I write this because my dear old dad, this past Christmas as we were crashing together in my Grandfather’s/his dad’s house, asked me:
“Aren’t you completely stressed about all of this?” To be clear, he was asking about all of the life changes and sacrifices and scary stuff I’ve been inflicting upon myself, voluntarily, while going from normal to nomad.
I was a little jacked up on coffee and holidays, so I may have gone a bit deep in my response. The Cliff’s notes version to save you some time was “Hell yeah I’m stressed, like literally all of the time.”
But I’ll dig a little deeper into that in a minute.
Cliches Are Cliches For A Reason
So here’s the thing, you and I have heard over and over and over (and over), that nothing worth having comes easy. Change is hard, and it will hurt and be difficult. The beginning is easy, but continuing to change is hard. “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglass?) And the motivational and inspirational kick-in-the-pants cliches go on and on.
I’ve lived with this quote in the back of my mind for years and years:
“You can never truly appreciate the sweet without the sour.”
I believe this. You must understand both sides to appreciate the true difference between the two.
Stagnation is a hell of a lover. (I just made that sh*t up. Boom. I’m clearly no poet…) We all tend to look for comfort in our daily and strive for “normality and simplicity.” But they are also, typically, the mundane mistresses that we then want to rid our lives of once we find them. I believe we’re all eventually reminded that when we stop challenging ourselves, we start to regret those moments of non-progress towards personal growth or expansion.
So why am I so dedicated to pursuing a life full of travel?
Am I just greedy and want to jetset for the hell of it? Here’s the thing. I’ve been trying for years to articulate, without boring the sh*t out of the world (and you, you awesome, patient badass), why I’m on this journey and putting myself through the hoops that I am. And although I’m at the center of it by default, at the root of it, this actually has very little to do with me.
I’m gonna use political words for a minute. Don’t hate me.
What this really comes down to is that I feel that a lot of people, especially North Americans, have been brainwashed for years by our US, capitalistic media and marketing, and furthermore by the somewhat recent “bubbles” of social media that we live in.
We’ve been feared into believing that the rest of the world, and by default the people living in it, are dangerous and scary. I get it. Capitalism gives businesses (and government) the right and ability to put those messages in front of us. But I’ve chosen to no longer accept these false “truths,” which I might have defaulted to in the past, as actual truths.
My heart and soul continues to tell me these things simply aren’t reality, and every time I travel the contrary is reinforced through the amazing people and places I experience.
I never traveled growing up, and really not even until I was like 25 years old.
Yes, there is a wanderlust in me that just wants to see other places, cultures, etc.; no doubt. I never traveled growing up, coming from a very blue-collar family and background. We honestly didn’t really notice, since our experiences were perfectly fantastic in the form they came–in campgrounds and national parks, surrounded by nature. We never wanted for more, but that was before more became visible or an option.
Wait. What? I’m allowed to go see the world? Shut your mouth!
I first went to Canada when I was 19. Yes…I got hammered, missed two trains, and my dad found me passed out face down in my hotel bed. (A story for another time…) My only other international trip was to London for a week when I was 25.
That Europe trip was the extent of my major for a long time after. Then, over the next many years, I met amazing people that stayed at these budget lodgings called “hostels” and soon started to realize that the world was actually accessible, regardless of income or preconceived notions about the cost of travel.
I also had a coworker and his girlfriend who sold everything and chose to travel Europe and Asia for like 8-10 months on less than $18k. Do what now? He found his calling through that journey, creating a design firm that only works with companies with souls, that care for our planet, and have goals to make the world better. Travel can do that.
I won’t get into too much backstory here, but I was frustrated at 28 because I knew there were things out there to see, and that I was allowed to see them if I decided to. Eventually, I finally got fed up with my self-prescribed waiting. I booked a ticket to Austin, Texas, and a hostel for a week when I was almost 30…and it changed me.
I was scared. I was nervous. I was worried about being lonely even before the trip even started, but I pulled the trigger.
A healthy dose of beers and a strong internet connection helped, no doubt.
Ten years later and I pulled the trigger again, but for a bigger reason
Fast-forward to today, and the past year and its ups and downs. Like I said earlier, I’ve realized, without being able to put it into dead sexy words, that this isn’t actually about me. It really hasn’t been, but the struggle is how to articulate that.
I’ve continued to see throughout the past year that most of my US friends, the ones that don’t travel the way I do–on a more grassroots level–are still very fearful of the rest of the world. But the thing is, I am too.
This is simply unacceptable.
One of my true, new epiphanies over the past few years is that the majority of people in the world simply want to love and be loved, and to help their loved ones and others around them be happy and achieve the same.
So here’s my “mantra” or whatever you want to call it.
Seriously. I kind of expect Matt Damon to throw some digits on the window and be all “How you like them apples?!” with what you’re about to read. It feels trite, but it’s how my mind works when I wax poetic.
Spoiler alert. For all my potty-mouthing, I really love old writings and prose, poetry, etc. Yeah, go figure. So here’s what comes out when I try to articulate what this whole Nomad Experiment is about, deep inside of me. Here goes:
My goal is simply to impact humanity in a positive way, somehow, through my journey. That starts with my gaining a better understanding and expanding my own mind about other people from places other than my “home,” through travel. Then it requires somehow convincing others, especially from similar backgrounds as mine, that it’s monumentally important, and worth it, for them to do the same.
Traveling for me is not so much about the destinations or the sights along the way, but the expansion of my own conscious and subconscious through experiencing different cultures or people…hopefully resulting in a better me.
The fact that I choose to travel inexpensively is merely a mechanism for me to be able to travel more than most people think is possible. Spending much less, and typically getting me closer to others with similar mindsets than if I chose to travel like a typical tourist or vacationer.
READ NEXT: Vacation Thinking vs. NOMAD THINKING : Changing the way you think about travel as an aspiring nomad
Namedrop Alert: Jason Moore is a big teddy bear bad-ass.
So now that you’ve endured my terrible articulation about how travel expands my mind and hopefully those around me through my experience, you might check out the Zero to Travel podcast. It’s been steadfast for me for many years, but more importantly, because Jason tends to ask a question, at the end of each segment, of most of his guests: “What does travel mean to you?”
Nearly always the answer is ridiculously better worded than mine above, but they all have the same core ingredients in common: An expansion of our own personal viewpoints to better understand, empathize, and thus connect with the people of the world.
But to be honest, my foundational beliefs, the things that set up shop in my brain during the first 30+ years of my life as an American, still have me hella-nervous, and dare I say scared of the possibilities.
But again, this is just unacceptable to me.
Decide to pursue things that make you feel uncomfortable, but try to do them for the right reasons
Here’s the thing, change is hard and uncomfortable. But choose to pursue things that push you outside of your element and comfort zone, and I promise you’ll grow. If you’re lucky enough to find something that can not only help you grow, but that also helps those that are around you grow a bit, then go full-f*cking force and push through that self-manufactured adversity.
There’s truly nothing more satisfying than realizing that someone was positively impacted by something that you believed in enough to put your full body and soul into, without selfish intent for personal gratification.
Be well, my friend. Hope to see you somewhere out there.
Travel Planning Tips
Figure out where you are going & how are you getting there…
I suggest using at least 2 to 3 different travel search sites. Start with Skyscanner or Orbitz or Booking …or whatever aggregator site you prefer. Then when you see what airlines to use, check their respective sites for better deals or rewards flights.
Figure out where you’re going to stay…
If you’re interested in hostels, search Hostelworld or Hostelling International. For longer-term or more private digs, look at Airbnb, VRBO, or you can look for hotel rooms in the links from the search engines listed above.
Get comprehensive travel insurance, or in the least, travel medical insurance if internationally…
Especially with Covid not going anywhere, get covered. Start with an insurance aggregator like Insure My Trip, or with SafetyWing, World Nomads, or another. Then decide what is important to you; trip cancellation, baggage coverage, medical, or all of the above. And get a yearly evacuation plan, since you’ll have to get home after your emergency!
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