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Travelversary Part I: Why Haven’t You Left Yet?

I’ve been living out of a backpack for three years. Sleeping on couches, having adventures, being unfortunately poor, and man-handling jet lag.
The following is Part III of a three part series on hitting the road! Skip to Part II here.

I meet a lot of people who want to travel. They say to me jovially, “I’d love to do what you do Kosta!” and I ask, “why don’t you?” immediately they start rattling off excuses. The two major excuses:

  1. I can’t afford it.
  2. I’m scared (Biggest three fears: I’ll be lonely, I’ll get raped, what if I get lost).

The following bit of information is going to read like something straight out of the self help section.  I apologize in advance.

For those who think they can’t afford leaving the comfort of home, I want to share with you a very short morbid story:

Once up on a time,
a woman was gently sleeping, safe and sound, in her puffy bed. Out of nowhere a meteor came blasting through her roof and ripped her in two.
-The End-

The odds of such a thing happening to you are pretty slim, but the reality is, your life is finite. It can be taken from you at any second, and so, every single moment of your life is a gift (as this blog tries very hard to illustrate). If any of those moments aren’t being lived to their fullest potential, you just may be doing yourself a tremendous disservice. You never know when it will be your turn to depart this planet.

And so, with all that in mind, how can you not afford to experience as many things as possible? I could get into the technical details of why travelling for a year is probably cheaper than the way you’re living right now (I travelled the globe last year and spent $6k) but I will spare you the details. Essentially: if you can hustle, you can travel mostly for free. It will not be very comfortable, but you’ll be having the adventure of your life.

Some things to consider:

  1. If you have a job now, you can probably get another.
  2. If you’re broke take a look at what you’re buying: short term consumer happiness can come at the price of living your dreams. You can buy that $30,000 car and spend the next five years paying it off, or you could buy a piece of junk and toss it the minute you have a few thousand dollars saved up for your travelling adventure.
  3. You can work under the table in plenty of places, and the cost of living can be substantially lower than what you’re paying now. For example: in Montreal Canada you can get by on $300 a month.

The other excuse I hear is “I’m scared.” I understand this completely. Three years ago you couldn’t pay me to get on an airplane. There was no doubt in my mind that the flying coke can would depressurize and I would be sucked from my chair into a jet engine to be shredded alive. I also used to be afraid of: elevators (metal death coffins), being away from my family (certainly mom and dad would come down with cancer and die the minute I left), being alone (how will I make friends?!), getting lost (this was before smart phones), and ninjas (okay not really.)

Some Solutions:

  1. Flying – I signed up to get a pilots license. After a tremendous amount of mental effort I got into a cessna, almost shat myself during take-off, and learned how to fly it. I also purchased aviation training manuals which taught me about how many fail safes are in an airplane (plenty). Every fear needs to be faced in order for it to be conquered.
  2. Elevators/being away from family – Start small. I moved onto my cousins couch on the 14th floor of her Boston apartment. Taking the stairs got tedious, the elevator just made sense. And because it was my cousin it was still family. She’s required to love me no matter what happens. When mom and dad didn’t come down with cancer I realized this was a silly fear. They aren’t going anywhere, it was time for me to go everywhere.
  3. No friends/being alone/getting lost – The easiest way to make friends is to get lost. Go a bit off the beaten path and when you’re good and lost wander up to the guy/girl of your choice and in whatever language you choose announce: “I am lost/Ich bin verloren/Je suis perdu.” As a general rule the more vulnerable you are the more likely people will become close to you quickly. People want to help. Travelling alone increases your vulnerability, you will always have friends.

A note for the ladies:
Please don’t be scared. I have had the honor of spending time with beautiful women who have gone to the worst corners of the world. I have asked specifically if they have ever had any bad experiences no one had any stories to share. I’m certain it happens, and of course great care should be taken, but don’t allow fear to be your guide.

To sum it all up:
Life is a gift, don’t ever procrastinate on living your dreams.
The only thing to fear is fear itself.

Next up Part II: Why the Youth Aren’t Travelling.

5 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Guelcher


    Well done. Your writing is getting sharper and sharper.

    I’m interested in knowing more about the “Hustler” lifestyle you describe. Is it similar to the “Vagabond” lifestyle that travel writers such as Rolf Potts ascribe towards?

    Anyhow, great work. You make me feel better about possibly being unemployed next year.

    Mar 09, 2011 @ 8:09 am

  2. Colten

    What a foreboding image to leave the ladies with!

    It’s all very driving advice, I hope that you push more and more people to start having adventures. I especially like the unintuitive bit of proclaiming vulnerability. It goes against my understanding of how not to get mugged, but I like your priorities better.

    Your blog has been a reliable source of inspiration for me anyway. A great slice of what’s out there. Riots and Castles and fresh asparagus.

    Mar 09, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  3. Kevin

    Kosta, you should be very afraid of ninjas.

    Mar 09, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  4. emily

    ANYONG! “Out of nowhere a meteor came blasting through her roof and ripped her in two.
    -The End-”

    HAHAHA!!! YES!! KOSTA!!! We are in Cali until August. Then we are going to teach on AN ISLAND! Jeju Island, South Korea!!

    Always enjoy your blog!

    Mar 09, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  5. helen

    Hey Kosta,
    So – I actually had some bad experiences as a female traveling alone. In India multiple men accidentally bumped into me on the streets. At least I thought it was accidentally until I realized that I walked around New York City for 1 week and not a single person ever bumped into me, and NYC is way more crowded than Indian Cities.

    Also – in just one evening walking out alone right after sunset in Borneo – one elderly man walked past me and grabbed my buttock. His right hand on my ass, his left hand holding the hand of his young son. Less than 30 minutes later, a young teenage kid ran up to me and grabbed the front of my crotch. I was wearing long pants and a head scarf.

    I could go on and on – but a woman simply CANNOT go asking for a tour from skeezy drug dealers on the streets in south america. The same man who respected you for your bravery would have raped me.

    Oct 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm