When It All Started
In the past 10 short years my travel portfolio has shown that I’ve only visited 22 countries. I say “only” because out of over 195 in total, that equals only about 11% I’ve visited.
Now, I know it’s a lot more than most people get to visit in a complete lifetime so I’m not complaining.
I set myself a goal in my bucket list to visit at least 100 countries in my lifetime. Again, this is nothing compared to other travellers who have already reached that milestone and they are only in their twenties!
I never had much interest in travelling until I went to Las Vegas in 2005, which really changed everything for me.
It left me a broke man, but I found a new passion and one that hasn’t left my blood ever since.
Well, it actually provided me with two passions – Poker and Travelling.
Both of which have gone hand in hand and allowed me to experience diverse cultures and see some incredible places over the years.
Poker has provided a steady income for me since 2006 and now I hope that travelling/travel writing will replace it eventually.
It’s definitely true what people say about travelling – it teaches you more about life than any degree will. I 100% agree with this assumption. I have a degree in which I choose not to put to use, but I also know that spending 5 long years in college getting it has now resulted in a “lost 5 years” so to speak.
As I’ve always said, I don’t regret having a degree to my name – I just regret spending the length of time it took getting it.
If anything travel has taught me, it’s be patient. Now, I’m not the most patient chap in the world – not by a long shot. But I think I’m getting to the stage where I’m content to accept that travel and life can go at varying speeds. It’s difficult to try and force yourself to slow down and go with the flow – especially if you’re waiting for a bus that’s already 2 hours late and you’ve a full 16 hour journey ahead of you!
It’s a constant battle with myself when it comes to slow travel. Buses not departing/arriving on time(as in to the nearest hour) and border crossings cause me the most stress.
However, over the past couple of years and trips, I’ve started to mellow and enjoy the experience.
Travel has also opened my eyes to the world that I was ignorant to for a long time. I’m speaking here about 3rd world countries like Tanzania, and other East African countries I’ve visited and travelled in.
You must learn to take life with a pinch of salt when you go to these countries and see how the locals live. They have next to nothing(materially), and yet they have so much to give in terms of generosity and kindness.
In early 2009, I was in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda – volunteering for three months and then in September of that year I went to Las Vegas for a different sort of trip. I got to see in the space of a few months, two totally different sides to the life coin.
From one extreme to the other.
From poverty to riches.
From kindness to greed.
I’ve learned a few lessons from travelling over the years, but one in which I’ve definitely adapted to best is the whole “packing” thing.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but up until about 2009 – I packed as much as I possible could when it came going away.
I always got the biggest suitcase or backpack possible and stuffed it solid. The idea of only bringing a minimal amount of garments was tossed out the window.
You couldn’t pay me to think about getting a small suitcase and maybe consider getting my clothes washed during the trip. No.
But as the trips came and went, I started to see the advantage in only bringing the bare essentials and washing as I went.
For the last big trip to Asia, I more or less had only what thought I could get away with without going overboard. I travelled around South East Asia for a 4 months with only 2 pairs of jocks and never ran into any problems 🙂
For my upcoming move abroad to Thailand I plan on cutting things down even more. But I think I can’t go any less than 2 pairs of jocks!!
Travel CV for previous 10 years
Here’s a timeline of my travel history since 2003:
2003: Portugal – Alvore
2004: America – Orlando
2005: America – Las Vegas
2006: Italy – Florence, Egypt – Sharm el Sheik – Cairo
2007: America – Las Vegas, Hungary – Budapest, Austria – Vienna, Slovakia – Bratislava, Czech Rep – Prague, Germany – Berlin, Holland – Amsterdam.
2008 America – Las Vegas – L.A – Death Valley – San Diego – San Francisco, Mexico – Tijuana, England – Manchester
2009 Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda. America – Las Vegas
2010 Portugal – Vilamoura, Germany – Berlin, Italy – Cassalattico
2011 Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Italy
2012 Italy twice
So, as I reach new countries and new experiences down the road, it will all have the cumulative effect of making me more adaptable to all things travel related.
If you were to ask me back in early 2005 if I had any interest in travelling, you’d have received a whooping big “absolutely not”.
Fast forward to 2013, and I live and breathe for the travel buzz.
And that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from travelling – you live life to the max by sampling what the world has to offer.