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Passports Are Overrated? One Of Those Days… And Moving On To Make The Best Of It

A lost passport, botched site change, alarm fatigue, and attempting to make lemonade out of lemons—all before 9am

Things started well enough, with the sun shining through the windows of my small studio apartment in Mindelo, Cape Verde, Africa. It’s a degree or two cooler than usual (in celsius, of course), which for me is a big deal and a welcome change. But within minutes of being greeted by the sun, the travel and life shenanigans began.

This is one of those “real life” articles where you get to understand the not-so-sexy parts of being a new long-term traveler—in a new island country in Africa—and dealing with the bumps in the road.

I always tell people that I traded one messy life for another messy life, just with better views and more daily adventure.

You gotta take the good with the bad, right?

BTW. Feel free to leave me some words of encouragement in the comments after this article!

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About Jason Robinson // The Nomad Experiment

Having not seen his 3rd country until age 40, then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 42, Jason encourages and empowers others with a fear of travel, or of traveling with major medical conditions, to push through and live an unconventional life.
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I woke up this morning to my insulin pump not-so-quietly telling me that I needed to change my site and cartridge

Three super…super-frustrating “not enough insulin…please add more” setbacks, and at least 35 units of precious insulin wasted, and I was finally plugged back in and moving on. (Like the “I only have so much insulin with me on this 2.5 month trip” kind of precious.)

But let’s be clear—my blood was already well into a slow-simmer at this point. 

Then that idea returned for me to remove my passport from where I keep it when on flights and moving from place to place, and to put it somewhere safe so I’m not walking around with it unnecessarily. I don’t usually walk about with my passport unless I know I’m going to need it, as that’s just asking for something to happen to it.

I feel like you know where this is going.

You seem like you understand foreshadowing…

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I reached my hand in the only place my passport should have been only to find it empty. The immediate, audible “Fuuuuuuuu…where is my passport!?” blurted loud enough for the next apartment to hear. Then the next 45 minutes repeatedly emptying everything and searching every possible spot in my belongings. You know, all the places where I already knew I hadn’t put my lost passport. 

I’ve only been in Cape Verde for 4 nights now, and had to use my passport to get out of the airport on arrival. Therefore somewhere between scanning it at the terminal and now, it has vanished. 

Did I drop it in the airport when I was putting it back in my secret spot? 
Did it fall out in the cab? 
Did the cab driver—who knowingly double-charged our fare—make off with it? 
Did someone lift it from my bag between then and now? 

Is it still hiding somewhere “safe” that I may have put it and forgotten?

At this point my insulin pump screamed at me to tell me that my insulin was still stopped and that I hadn’t told it to resume insulin.

Alarm fatigue is real my friend.

Really felt like it was turning into one of those days at this point… 

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I’m hyper-vigilant about my things and trying to feel secure when traveling

Especially since I still feel I’m very new to travel. I can’t think of a time I’ve left my bag out of my sight or off my back in public spaces in the past few days, other than at the coworking space for a moment here and there. 

So there I was pacing my apartment, boiling over the reality of facing “what’s next…” and knowing it probably won’t be a simple task to replace my lost passport before I leave the island in a couple of weeks. The US embassy is on another island in the country, so I’m guessing I’ll need to spend a day going there and back somehow. 

At this point I decided to stop searching the apartment for my lost passport and to just try again later. Then I headed off to coworking to get some work done. 

I chose to dodge the normal spot where I get coffee as I just didn’t feel like dealing with the crowd. Got into coworking—first one here…since it’s Saturday—and opened all the doors and windows to set it up for the day and get the air moving.

Then sat down at my desk, pulled out my computer and cords, reached for my international adapter so I could plug in and….I left it sitting back on the bed at the apartment. Blerg.

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Blood boiling at max rumble and starting to spill over… 

At that point, I had many choices, but the one I wanted (want?) to go with is to feel sorry for myself, be frustrated, and begin to give up on the day. At 8:30 in the morning no less. Of course, I could have packed up and made the roundtrip back and been working in 25 minutes. 

Instead I chose to sit down and write this out. My computer has plenty of charge for that, and writing helps me vent and re-align my thoughts. Lost passport be damned, I needed to write.

Real talk time: I really do struggle with that “I just want to give up” soundtrack often. Much more often than I want to admit, honestly. If I’m not careful—between traveling with Type 1 diabetes, other health stuff, and the overwhelm of learning-while-doing this whole location-independent nomad thing—I can easily lose a day or two to mental and emotional exhaustion if I’m not careful. 

But what I’m choosing to do this time is something that I know is right. 

Stop and breathe. Slowly and deeply.

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Trying to keep it in perspective and look at the bigger picture

Realize that these are small things, and that my overall picture is quite bountiful, especially compared to many in the place I’m at right now. Put the music in my ear that will calm me. Then just take the day slowly and try to be thankful for all the things that are going right instead of the relatively few that are going wrong. Even a lost passport is something that has steps to correct. That’s what US embassies are for.

Not an easy task when it would be easier to just day drink myself into oblivion, taking two or three siestas between binges, or to just eat my way through the day and feel gluttonous and slovenly.

But the reality is that those escapes would only make things worse. I’ll feel better if I’m productive for a while. Then if I choose to be relaxed and enjoy where I’m at and the amazing people I have the opportunity to spend my time with.

So I guess the point of this whole story was to put out there for you and me the intention to make lemonade out of lemons whenever possible. 

Know what your mood-changers are and use them when necessary

Make sure a friend or partner knows what those are as well, since we tend to forget when in the thick of it. For me, it’s a specific album by a certain artist. It almost always gets me right as rain in no time. Stop and breathe, then repeat. And realize you’re probably much better off than this moment is leading you to feel.

It’s about 11am now. Having gotten this down in writing, I already feel accomplished, and the rest of the day is still ahead.

Ever lost your passport? Please leave leave a comment or some positive vibes below!

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Thanks for the ear friend. Hope your day is going well.

Talk again soon. 

The beginner traveler's guide to going nomad book by Jason A. Robinson

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Beyond giving you the stepping stones to dive into short-term domestic and international travel, this book will show you how long-term travelers extend those tools, maximize their budgets, and turn weeks into months…or even years…of traveling the world indefinitely.

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