Why the New American Dream Is Nomadic

The tired, huddled masses of the next generation are waking up to realize that flexibility and movement are the keys to unlock joy.

The American dream is dead. While still nestled in infancy, star-spangled hopes of anything resembling my parents’ life had pretty much vanished, and a strange subtext for what was to come silently gestated as I grew. The car, the house, and the child before age 30 were all near impossibilities for those of us who inherited the great recession. We were taught to dream small and assign great meaning to the tiny crevasses in which we were held, to play the game the way it’s always been played, though the rules have shifted greatly. Cultural milestones carved deep into society’s structure suddenly feel staggeringly out of reach for this generation of misfits, caught in the middle. So, what are we to do but erupt? To transform? To leap daringly into that which we can hold and experience with the limited resources we have been given? The new American dream will be forged not in matter, but in memory. A bleary-eyed tumble into the ephemeral nature of all things, seen through the lens of conscious nomadism.

We have taken to the road. The new mark of success will not be how young you made your first million or the square-footage of your house, but the stamps on your passport and the mileage on your odometer. The internet is a funny thing to unleash upon a generation, and I feel we are just beginning to use it well. Couch-surfing, ride shares, and freelance work are all within the click of a button, which has made the nomadic lifestyle within reach for anyone who puts their mind to it. Keep personal overhead down and maximize experience.

We have seen our planet suffer. It is no longer chic to accumulate goods and stuff plastic into landfills. The new hive-mind is keen on reversing climate change, recycling, and reusable materials. We can research anything within arms reach at a moments notice, and we are smart enough to know that buying something that lasts 10 years is better than buying ten things that last 1 year. We have had to lead big lives inside of small spaces, creating worlds within wee studios well into our 30s and downsizing to what is essential.

We have accepted a new definition of “home.” There’s a reason that the van life and tiny house movements have picked up so much steam in the last few years. The materialism that previous generations could afford via job security, lack of community, and a void of climate awareness are no longer sustainable or sexy to a tribe of youth raised on the net. Anything we want is right at our fingertips, and perhaps this certainty makes hoarding all the less desirable. The new zeitgeist is one that hoards information, media, and data. We can fit the whole of the world into a backpack, allowing for hyper-mobility and massive curiosity.

We have redefined that which is essential to include warmth, camaraderie, play, purpose, and flexibility. We are aware of our mortality and the world around us more than any generation prior, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, and we are waking up to the notion that life’s meaning is best found in the deep wells of experience. We are hungry for experience and ready to start digging.

We are blurring the lines between friend/acquaintance/lover. In a world ruled by social media and meetups, finding like-minded friends or groups to try new things with has never been easier, and advancements like FaceTime and Skype give us the power to buzz through electrical currents and maintain friendships thousands of miles away. The new American dream demands inclusivity. Not out of disdain for society as it stands, but out of too many years of living like ill-fitted puzzle pieces in homes we were told to call our own. We have assembled a new definition of community, one that encompasses people we sat next to on a flight to Copenhagen who recommended a bar in Edinburgh. Playmates are everywhere, just look for the smiles.

The new American dream was birthed in the wake of globalization. Unlike ever before, our generation has the power to simultaneously recognize the immediacy with which we need to explore and defend our planet and the absurdity and transience of all things on earth. Between the two lies a web we feel called to traverse again and again, rather than adhere to a rigid, stairway-shaped career structure. The new narrative holds space for several careers within a lifetime and does not believe that traveling is something bestowed only upon the retired and the moneyed.

Technological advances have given us the tremendous gift of all the world’s information, photo-supplemented, at our fingertips. The breathtaking whoosh of Alice down the rabbit hole is just as near as a how-to course on calculus or a selection of vintage Ganesha statues. It seems only fitting that the first generation raised in such expansiveness would begin to carefully rip the seams of society’s cozy sweater and invite in the gale-force winds of the wild unknown. We are waking up to a new version of the future, a new narrative that welcomes the mess, the squish, and the inevitability of impermanence, knowing that goodbye is never a dirty word when the wind’s in your hair and the tiny device inside your pocket holds infinity. Maybe enlightenment isn’t found in the pursuit of solitude, meditating atop a mountain for years on end. Maybe it’s a swan dive into the messiness of life itself and a gentle recognition of the sublime, unwavering force of transience.

 

Originally written on by Emily Pennington on The Outbound and published on August 3, 2017

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The Greatest Lesson I’ve Learned From Travel

The Greatest Lesson I've Learned

Written by Wandering Earl and originally published on WanderingEarl.com

I know nothing.

That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned during all these years of travel.

Sure, I can tell you where to snorkel in Bali or give you a great route for a road trip around Romania or explain where to find a unique spa experience in Kyrgyzstan, but when I really think about all of the issues and situations that the world faces these days, I really know nothing at all.

I read. I meet people, all the time, all over the world. I talk and discuss at length with others about politics, about religion and conflicts and economies and why it’s so difficult to find a good pair of sunglasses that actually fit my head shape.

But the more I read, the more I converse with others and the more I travel this fine world of ours, the more I realize that not only do I know nothing, it’s almost impossible for me to know anything.

Travel has shown me that the very global topics that I am interested and eager to learn about, the very topics that we all read about, are even more complex and complicated than I ever imagined. It has also shown me that no matter how many countries I visit, I will always continue to discover that every aspect of life in every single nation is defined by an infinite amount of different thoughts, actions, deals, motivations, interests and beyond.

Every single person involved in anything has their own stake and as a result, has their own views, desired outcomes, reasons for taking sides and so on.

How can I know what every person involved is doing or thinking, both in the open and behind the scenes (where it gets even trickier)? How can I know the reasons why they are doing or thinking something?

I can’t.

And if I can’t know any of that, I’m just left with media reports and the conversations I have with the people I meet, which does provide some information and access to a handful of perspectives, but certainly not enough for me to claim that I actually know what’s really going on, that I actually know the complete story.

I can say I know what’s going on from one or two angles perhaps, but that’s about it.

Does it even matter? Maybe it doesn’t.

All I know is that over the years, I’ve learned time and time again that what’s bad for some people is good, or even wonderful, for others, that what at first seems to be one thing, so often seems like something else, something so completely different, soon after.

And that’s why it becomes so extraordinarily difficult to give sweeping statements about a government, about a conflict, about any situation whatsoever without taking into account every single person that is affected or that plays a role. But it’s impossible to take into account everyone’s position, which is why it’s impossible to possess complete knowledge about anything.

The more time I spend online, and the more time I spend talking about various issues, the more I realize that the internet has tricked us into thinking that we are ’experts’ simply because we have such access to so much information. We feel more comfortable making broad statements about the Middle East, yelling out our conclusions about poverty or claiming that we absolutely know what is going on with Greece right now because we’ve read 100 articles on the matter. But in reality, we still don’t know much at all because the internet can’t provide us with a completely unbiased view of what every person or every group involved is thinking and doing and why.

I’m Just Naive

When someone writes to me through the blog and tells me that my political views are naive or my thoughts on some global problem are overly simplistic, based on something I’ve written, my response is…

Okay.

To me, naivety is thinking that we, ordinary citizens, know enough about some situation to be able to claim, with such certainty, that we are right and others are completely wrong. None of us have been in the meeting rooms, none of us have seen the deals made, none of us were present at every conversation or heard the exact reasoning for every decision, none of us have spoken with the very people, on all sides, who are dealing with the issue first-hand.

And while relying on the media might give me an interesting story to read, it is important to recognize that whatever I do read is one small, and usually very biased, perspective. Thinking otherwise can be dangerous. Media is big business and with any big business, there’s always a hidden agenda behind everything. They work hard to try and hide this of course but what we read is exactly what they want us to read, not necessarily what is actually taking place, or at least not the complete story.

Danger

This is why you won’t see me talking in-depth about conflict, politics or many other global issues. I’ll gladly share my thoughts and general opinions based on what I’ve learned over the years but I’ll always add a note that I really have no idea what I’m talking about in the end, simply because there is no way for me to really know what I’m talking about.

Make sense? Maybe not. Maybe I really am just naive.

But, I still think it’s better to recognize that we only know a tiny fraction about everything. I still think it’s more useful to realize that each of us has been exposed to different information and therefore, each of us sees things in completely different ways, none of which can possibly be fully accurate.

Realizing these things has helped me try to seek out as many perspectives as possible with anything I want to learn about. It has helped me to hold off on making judgments and reaching conclusions without gathering as much information as I possibly can. It has helped me realize that every situation in the world is much more complex than it seems and that I should always remind myself of this fact.

Thank you, travel. Thank you for teaching me that I am indeed quite clueless. Funny enough, this lesson has actually helped me understand the world so much better in the end.

9 Tips for your next Trip

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Recently, I’ve been planning a few new adventures to close out the year (hiking in the Grand Tetons and a quick trip to Costa Rica) which got me thinking about my past trips and what they’ve taught me.  It didn’t take long for me to realize there were a few universal lessons I’d learned.  Below you’ll find a list of nine ideas that I learned from traveling but that have transcended my everyday life.

 

This must be the place

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them I love travel days.  For most, those are the worst days of any trip.  For me, sitting on a train or waiting in front of my gate are times I truly feel at peace.  When I’m in those places it’s easy for me to relax because I look around and recognize that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I don’t feel guilty thinking I should be doing something else.  This way of thinking creates a type of presence and freedom allowing me to focus on the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Even when I’m not traveling I always try to be completely present and focused on whatever it is I’m doing.

 

Where not what

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.”

I’m a go with the flow kind of guy, but when traveling it’s good to have an idea of where you’re going.  When I plan a trip and have to keep to a timeline I pick the different places I’m going to, but don’t decide what I’ll be doing in each place until I get there.  Yes, you can do some research for general ideas, but I’ve found it’s better to wait until you’re there to pick what activities you’re going to do.  For me, it helps keep some spontaneity in my trip and gives me flexibility once I’m there to learn what my options are.  Which brings me to my next tip…

 

Ask a local

“…because life is too exciting not to share.”

It doesn’t matter how much research you do you’re not going to know about everything ahead of time.  But you know who can help?  The person that lives there.  Whenever I’m traveling I try to ask a local for advice on places to eat and drink, things to do, or places to stay.  People are more than happy to point you in the direction of their favorite hole in the wall bar or the place they discovered with the best calamari.  More often than not, their recommendations aren’t on Yelp’s top places but turn out to be incredible.

 

Traveling is trust

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

I hadn’t really thought about this until I was riding on the back of a scooter, at night in Bali, and was completely separated from my friends.  As all my friends and their scooters went one way and me and mine went another  I realized in that moment that I had decided to completely trust this random Balinese guy.  I was trusting him to not only to get me from one one place to another, but to do so safely-in crazy traffic, reunite me with my friends, and for the agreed upon price.  There were so many things that could have gone wrong.   When you travel, you’re at a disadvantage in some ways, you have to be willing to trust other people to survive.  From my experiences, across the world, I can tell you that trusting is rarely a mistake and people are good.

 

Night Transportation is your best friend

“I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”

If you can handle sleeping on trains, buses, and flights traveling at night is as close to teleportation as you’re ever going to get.  Instead of wasting a day going from one place to another, you can go to sleep (something you’d be doing anyway) and wake up at your next destination.  It requires more planning, as you have to make sure you can get where you need to go in the early hours of the morning, but worth it if done right.  We caught three night trains in Vietnam which is what allowed us to see so much in the 8 days we were there.  Besides, you haven’t really experienced a place until you’ve seen it peaceful like it is while everyone else is still sleeping before the chaos of the day begins.

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Take the damn picture

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

I used to worry that taking photos while I traveled made me look like a ‘tourist’ (which is the last thing a traveler wants to be).  I worried even more about how ridiculous my friends and I looked while taking our ridiculous group photos.  I worried the other people around were going to judge us.  Now a days I give zero fucks.  Odds are, I’m never going to see those people again.  What I do care about is having a lifelong reminder of that day and that moment with the people I care about.  On that subject…

 

Capture Moments not Things

“If you want to see what someone values take a look at what they photograph”

Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen lots of places and taken literally thousands of pictures.  Whether it was my time on the cruiseship, backpacking Europe, or traveling around out Southeast Asia one thing proved to be universally true: the photos and memories I cherish most are the ones of my friends and I goofing around.  My house is full of photos from my travels and not one of them is a building or landmark.  Yeah, I’m glad I’ve walked across the Charles Bridge, but my first Prague memories go back to Hostel Orange and the friends I made there. When you think about your trip in retrospect you’ll think of the people more than the places.  My advice, try and capture them the best you can.

 

Give Yourself Time

“To rush is to miss the experience”

You’ll be tempted to go to as many places as possible and fill each minute of every day with activities.  To see everything a place has to offer. Well, guess what, you can’t. Accept it. While it’s important to make sure you see what you want to see it’s equally important to not overdue it.  It’s better to see a few places in depth than to see a dozen barely at all.  Looking back on my trip to Asia I could have happily spent an entire month in any one of those countries.  There were times when I felt like I tried to do too much.  Always on the go to the next activity or city.  I didn’t leave the group as much time as I should have to let each place truly resonate.  Do yourself a favor and give yourself time.  I don’t think you’ll be too upset if that means you have to take a second trip.

 

Explore the Alleyway

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

When traveling, I love discovering new, unknown, obscure places.  While some people opt to stick with Tripadvisor or Yelp for research and to validate their choices I go the opposite.  I’m all about walking around a city and seeing where my feet take me.  It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for food, drinks, souvenirs, or a tailored suit in Bali the best places are always down the alleyway you almost didn’t see.  Do yourself a favor and get off the main streets and explore a city’s alleyways. Those alleyways are the places where you truly get to discover a city and all that it has to offer.  

 

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

13 Signs That You Were Born To Travel

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Originally published on TraveltheWholeWorld.org
Most of us love to visit new places and try new things from time to time, but some of us were born to travel. Are you one of them? Here, thirteen signs you were born a traveler!
1. You can make friends anywhere, but are just as happy to sit in silence by yourself.

2. You like planning as much as going. Traveling to a new destination isn’t enough; you take planning to a whole new level. You search for the best deals on flights, read hotel reviews, and rearrange your itinerary. And, when you get back from one trip, you delve immediately into the planning stages of the next one.

3. Your dream job has always been a position that allows you to explore the world. Being a writer for a travel magazine, going on treks with National Geographic, or working as an anthropologist are all things you would seriously LOVE to do.

4. You’ve always been good at Tetris, and understand how to translate those skills into a real life packing scenario.

5. You know the word for “Cheers” in seventeen languages.

6. There isn’t a country that isn’t on your bucket list. Who doesn’t want to go to Italy, France, and Ireland? As a born traveler, you dream bigger. Places like Tetepare, the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, and croc-infested Cape York Peninsula in Australia make your list.

7. You’ve always loved studying other cultures and landscapes greatly different than your own. Social studies and/or Geography was your favorite subject in school and you can still get totally lost reading travel blogs or in travel memoirs.

8. You would rather spend money on experiences. You drive a 2002 gold Ford Taurus and got your couch from your mother-in-law. So what? That means you’ve got a budget to make the trek to Machu Picchu, learn to tango in Buenos Aires, and participate in a paleontological excavation in Wyoming. Experiences are always better than material things, in your opinion.

9. You consider your medical history full of exotic diseases to be more like a trophy case.

10. While other people seem to hate airports you actually love the experience of flying. You seriously love just sitting in an airport and people watching. Everything from observing the different types of people flying to thinking about why they’re traveling and where they’re going – it’s one of your favorite parts of traveling.

11. You’ve never actually finished a checklist because you can’t stop adding things to it.

12. You’re pretty easy going and don’t let negative experiences get you down. When something bad or weird happens to you on a trip you’re able to shrug it off relatively quickly because you know it will make for a great story to tell your friends and family later on.

13. There’s always another trip. You don’t have a dream trip, you dream of a lifetime of trips. For you, coming back home is just a detour on the way to your next adventure.

6 Valuable Life Lessons You’ll Learn From Traveling

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They say life is like a book and those who don’t travel read only one page. It’s true, there’s much we can learn through traveling around our chaotic world.

 

1. You learn to enjoy different people.

Nothing gets rid of prejudice quite as quickly as travel. It’s actually amazing to travel to different places and see just how much our culture misinforms us about other people.

2. You learn to go with the flow.

In our day to day lives, we can be total control freaks. But when you travel, you’re at the mercy of pretty much everyone else. It really teaches you to let go and go with the flow.

3. You learn to relax.

In the same way that you learn to go with the flow, you also learn to relax. Without feeling like you have to control everything, you go immediately into relaxation mode, which is exactly where you should be when traveling

 

4. You learn respect.

It’s hard to be a jerk to other cultures when you’re hanging out in theirs. People look different, speak different languages, and seem really unfamiliar. It makes you realize how scary it can be to be around radically different people. Gives you a new appreciation for immigrants.

5. You learn to find beauty everywhere.

Day to day life gets dull. You see the same shit everywhere. When you travel, there are so many new things to take in and enjoy. Once you’ve returned home, it’s hard not to see the beauty in so many little things.

6. You learn to love your life.

Because there’s nothing quite better than getting back home to your comfy bed at the end of a long trip.

The Cost of a Month in Southeast Asia

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From a travel standpoint, the questions I get asked most are “What’s your favorite place,” “Where do I should go on my next trip,”  and “how much money do you actually spend on one of your adventures?”  The first question is impossible for me to answer with one place so I cheat and say five.  Places that will always have my heart (in no order):

  1. Prague, Czech Republic
  2. Melbourne, Australia
  3. Sapa, Vietnam
  4. Bali
  5. Port Denarau, Fiji

To answer the second question I’d ask you how much time do you have, what activities do you enjoy, and what’s the purpose of the trip.  Your answers dictate my advice.  If you live in the States and only have 7 days I’m not going to recommend Australia or Asia.  If you hate the beach I’m not going to tell you to go to Hawaii.

The third answer is more straightforward.  At least, for this trip.  Most people want to travel but money seems to be the biggest deterrent.  I decided before I left for a month in Southeast Asia I’d actually keep track of how much the trip cost me.

My past travel experiences have been rather unorthodox.  Working on a cruise ship in Australia, au pairing in the Czech Republic/backpacking Europe, and moving to Melbourne for a year isn’t exactly what most people have in mind when they say they want to travel.  

This was basically the first trip where I had a to book (and pay) for all of my own transportation.  The first trip where I wasn’t planning on earning any money while overseas.  The first trip where I had a concrete date I had to come back.  Odd as it may seem, it really was the first trip where I actually thought about just how much it was going to cost.

I did my best job to keep track of every Dollar, Baht, Rupiah, and Dong that I spent.  However, some purchases inevitably fell through the cracks and to be completely honest, some things I spent money on wouldn’t interest most people.  For example, my ambulance ride, emergency room visit, and 15 stitches in Thailand $104 (reimbursed), the $150  to replace the cell phone I lost at the Full Moon Party (yes, Thailand was rough), the $50 I spent on sandals due to losing 3 different pairs (not my month for keeping track of things), the $350 I spent on 2 custom tailored suits in Bali because every so often you just have to ball out, and while I don’t regret all the cigars, shots, and whiskey waters I had they aren’t essential to a person’s trip. Outside of those things I added everything I found relevant to a month in Southeast Asia in the list below.  

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A few things to keep in mind:

1. I converted everything to USD (you’re welcome)

2. The list below assumes you’ve already have items such as clothes, backpack, shoes,        etc.  For the full list of things, I brought with me check out my ‘What To Pack for Southeast Asia’ post.

3. Southeast Asia is big.  As a group, we agreed early on we wanted to see 4 countries in 4 weeks. We decided that saving time was more important than saving money which is why we took the fastest transportation available when changing locations, even if it cost more.  Yes, you can take a bus from Chiang Mai to Phuket but the fact it takes 24 hours made the price of the 3-hour flight worth it to us.  You have to decide what’s right for your trip, timeline, and budget.

4. I went to Asia with a big group; there were 6-10 of us the entire time.  The prices below are what I personally paid for.  We were able to get some group rate discounts because there were so many of us that you may not be able to find if it’s just you. However, we also had to take multiple tuk-tuks and scooters everywhere so maybe it evens out.

5. Speaking of tuk-tuks, I didn’t keep track of every tuk-tuk, taxi, or rickshaw that we took, every time I ate street food or bought a bottle of water.  I’ve done my best, where needed, to estimate per day what I spent on those types of things.  Also, if you can learn to haggle you’ll save yourself a good bit of money.

6.If you and your friends drink less than mine and avoid sit down restaurants you can reduce the final spend by 15%.  No regrets though.

7.Your trip your rules.  No trip two trips are ever the same but this should give you a general idea of what to budget for a month in Southeast Asia.

8. I broke everything out by category/location, price, and description.

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Pre-Departure Purchases:

Transportation:

Flights:

Kansas City to Los Angeles- $5.00 (purchased with my Southwest points. Flight usually $200)
Los Angeles to Bangkok- $422.00
Chiang Mai to Phuket- $93.44
Surat Thani to Siem Reap- $160.52
Siem Reap to Da Nang- $182.00
Hanoi to Denpasar- $155.05
Denpasar to Melbourne- $277.12
Melbourne to Los Angeles- 70,604 points – $882.56 value (yes, credit cards are awesome)
Los Angeles to Kansas City- $103
Flight Total- $1398.13

 

Ferries:

Krabi to Koh Tao – $32
Koh Tao to Koh Phangan – $15
Koh Phangan to Surat Thani- $20
Ferry Total- $67

 

Train

Bangkok to Chiang Mai $52 (night train)
Hoi An to Dong Hoi- $30
Dong Hoi to Hanoi – $56
Sapa to Hanoi – $45 (night train)
Train Total-  $183

 

Bus

Hanoi to Sapa – $17
Bus Total – $17

Transportation Total: $1665.13

 

Miscellaneous:

Traveler’s Insurance- $145 (Why you should get Travel Insurance)
Passport Photos (4 at Costco)- $10
Vietnam Visa Processing fee- $30
Vaccines (without insurance):
     Hepatitis A- $130
     Typhoid- $88
     Malaria- $79 (used coupon)
Misc Total- $482

 

Thailand (12 Days)

Bangkok

Dinner-   $7
Whisgars Whiskey and Cigar Bar- $42
Tuk Tuk to dinner and train station- $9
Bangkok Total: $58

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Chiang Mai

Counting Sheep Hostel- $16 x 2 nights – $32 (provided breakfast)
Sim Card- $8
Doi Inthanon National Park- $32
Asia Scenic Cooking Class $23.49 (included food)
Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary- $58.74 (included food, can’t recommend enough)
Transportation (tuk tuks/taxis) – $20 (estimate)
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation – $40 (estimate)
Chiang Mai total: $272.23

 

Phuket

Lub’d Hostel $13 x 2 nights – $26
Thai Smile Restaurant – $27 (dinner and multiple rounds of Tom Collins)
Flying Hanuman Zipline- $98
     -Missed out as I was stuck in bed following my ER visit the night before but that’s what it would have cost to go
Bus ride: Phuket to Krabi- $16
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation- $10
Phuket Total: $177

 

Krabi (Railay Beach)

Shuttle from bus station to hostel- $3
Hogwarts Hostel- $8
Tuk Tuk to Ao Nong (there and back)- $3
Speed boat from Ao Nong to Railay Beach (there and back)- $9
Dinner on Railay- $13
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation (estimate) – $10
Krabi Total: $46

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Koh Tao

Goodtimes Beach Hostel: $19 x 2 nights- $38
Airbnb Villa (recovery day) – $32 each
Tequila Shot with Zoran- $6.50
Dinner at Barracuda – $24
Boat to Koh Nang Yuang Island- $9
Entry Fee to Koh Nang Yuang Island- $3
The Gallery (dinner)- $24
⅕ Bottle of Johnnie Walker Red- $10
Living Juice (breakfast)- $8
Bans Resort (lunch- $9
Bans Bar (nightlife) – 10 whiskey waters $24
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation (estimate) – $25
Koh Tao Total: $212.5

 

Koh Phangan

Baan Klong House$20 x 2 nights- $40
Tuk Tuk to Hostel- $3
Sim Card- $15
Bite Delight (Dinner) $25
Tuk Tuk to beach (there and back) $6
Bucket Drink (⅛ Jack, Ginger Ale, Red Bull) – $15
Jungle Party- $17
Ride to Thong Nai Pan Noi (and back) $6
Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach Bar (lunch)-$18
Thai Massage – $12
Tuk Tuk to Full Moon Party (there and back) $6
Full Moon Party Entry Fee- $3
Tuk Tuk to ferry- $3
Water at hostel -$2
Koh Phangan Total: $171

 

Thailand Total: $936.73

 

Cambodia- 3 Days

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Siem Reap

Visa on arrival- $30
Airport Transfer- $4
Mango Rain Hotel- $24 x 2 nights- $48
Lunch at hotel- $8
Floating Village Tour – $25
Ankor Wat Circuit fee- $37
Tuk Tuk for the day- $10
Lunch- $6
Airport Transfer – $4
Cambodia total: $134

 

Vietnam- 9 days

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Hoi An

Visa on arrival – $25
Shuttle from Da Nang to Hoi An- $4
Sunflower Hostel- $8
All you can drink at hostel – $4.50
Dinner- $4.50
Custom shoes – $45 (and 5 free beers)
Pop-up book (souvenir)- $4.50
Lunch- $6
Vacation hat- $4.50
Taxi- $1.50
Half-Day Bike Tour – – $27
     -included drinks and meal
Dinner- $6
Hoi An Total: $140.5

 

Dong Hoi

Taxi from Train Station to Buffalo Hostel- $1
Breakfast- $4
All day Paradise and Dark Cave Tour- $160
     -Included transportation, food, drinks, zip lining, kayaking, etc
Dinner- $3
Taxi from Hostel to Train station- $1
Bottled Waters- $3
Dong Hoi Total: $171

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Sapa

Taxi- Hanoi train station to bus station- $1
Ticket into Sapa Village- $4
3 day 2 night Homestay Trek – $60
     -Included all meals, guide, lodging, rice wine
Bottle of Vodka and ice cream- $11
Cookies and 7 up- $3.5
Souvenirs bought from our guides- $18
Dinner/drinks – $4
Taxi- Sapa to Lo Cio Train Station- $3
Sapa Total: $104.5

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Halong Bay:

Halong Bay 2 day 1 night boat cruise- $60
     -included transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay, meals, lodging, tour
Taxi- Train Station to hostel- $1
Drinks on cruise- $43
Halong Bay total: $104

 

Hanoi

Nexy Hostel- $11
Hand carved chess set- $20
Landry- $2.25
Dinner- $12
Wine and cigars – $21
Drinks- $8
Taxi to airport- $4.5
Hanoi Total: $78.75

Vietnam Total: $494.25

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Bali- 7 Days

Villa -Airbnb – paid before arrival – $330 (each)
Taxi from airport to villa- $4
Cocktail- $8
Taxi to Sky Bar- $5
Scooter Rental for 7 days- $22
Bali Adventure bike ride- $60
     -included tour, food, drink
Single Fin Beach Club- $29
Santai Surf School- $22
     -included 2 hour lesson, 1 hour board rental
Lunch at Shelter- $9
2 Nusa bowls- $15
Santai Surfing: board rental- $7
Monkey Forest- $3.50
Bananas at Monkey Forest- $3.50
White Water Rafting- $25
Bali Swing- $20
Fake Ray Bans – $3.50
Sunset Artwork- $40
Waterbom Bali Water Park- $75
6 sets of Elephant Pants/tank tops/Souvenirs- $20
Estimate of gas, motorbikes, food, drinks: $200
Bali Total- $571

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Southeast Asia Grand Trip Total: $4283.11

Before I left people would ask how much I expected the trip to cost and I was estimating around $4,000.  Yes, that’s quite a bit of money, but to me, it doesn’t even compare to what I got out of it.  If you decide you want to go somewhere and plan properly you can make it happen.  Which is exactly why I started saving in November of 2015 for this trip. Month long trips across the world don’t happen over night. By saving around $200 a month over the last year and a half I was able to take the trip of a lifetime with my best friends.

Everyone will look at the $4283.11 price tag differently.  Some will think “oh that’s it” while others can’t imagine spending that much money without getting something tangible back.  For those in the latter group, please don’t think that you have to spend thousands of dollars to travel.  I’ve taken trips where not spending money was half my focus; this wasn’t one of them.  While I was conscious of how much I was spending, it wasn’t my goal to pinch pennies.  For me, going out to a nice restaurant with my friends mattered more than saving $10 by eating street food.  That was a choice I made and you can make for yourself when the time comes.

Like anything else in life traveling comes at a cost. Unless you have a trust fund you have to make a choice and for every choice we make we give sacrifice something else.  That’s unavoidable.  The trick is figuring out what you want most and not getting distracted.

Stay focused.  Regardless of what it is, you can’t lose focus on your goal.  On what you’re dream is. Was sticking to my budget easy? Hell no.  Were there times when I wanted to go out and eat or have a few drinks with my friends?  More than I can count.  But I didn’t (well sometimes I did, but a guy can’t always be a shut in).  I knew over the course of the last year and a half that my trip to Asia was going to be worth it.  I made a decision that spending money in bars and restaurants in Kansas City wasn’t worth it to me.  If you really want to travel you have to be willing to make sacrifices, to go without the newest and latest gadget or accessory.  You have to budget and stick with it.  With enough dedication anything is doable.  And here’s a little secret, it’ll be the best thing you ever do.

Stay Gold.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

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Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

3. You become a better conversationalist
– Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

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I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

It’s all about the journey.

Live each moment to the fullest.