How a change in mentality led to world travel
World travel. I will never forget the feeling. It was the first day of class at the University of Texas. Intro to Advertising to be exact. Our professor started the class by asking students to divide into two sections. One side for those who have traveled outside of the United States. The other, for those who have not.
As a natural introvert, I hesitated, trying to mentally justify if my half-Argentinian roots were good enough to qualify. The class drifted to the right. Miles went, proclaiming his feat of living in “all 6 inhabitable countries” already. The frat crowd, who more than likely only spent a hazy 3-month summer stint in Sevilla, Spain, joined Miles. Everyone went right.
I quickly realized, I was one of two in a class of at least 50 who have never traveled out of the US (or at least admittedly). In a split-second desperation move, ashamed and extremely self-conscious, I lied to both my classmates and myself and joined the right. Deep down I was humiliated. I remember tearing up to my mother weeks later, perhaps subconsciously trying to make her feel guilty that she never took us to her motherland. Later, she admitted it was at that point that she knew she had lost me to the world.
I grew up around native Spanish speakers, mingled with foreign relatives, and got to experience the beauty of a multicultural upbringing. Yet, I was one of two and I was only disappointed in myself. That was the turning point.
Fast forward 5 years later:
I have visited 35 countries, lived in four, and have been smart enough (not lucky enough) to dedicate my 20’s to a life balance of professional responsibility and travel. Sure, call me a “nextpat”. I take pride in it.
Here is a little secret…
I have never had more than $10,000 to my name. Ever. No family help, no lottery wins, no drug smuggling, nada.
Just a conscious decision, a careful lifestyle design, and a whole lot of sacrifice for the past 5 years.
At 23, I quit a stable job with the FBI in the middle of a promotion to move to France. As a result, I have regularly accepted wages abroad that equate to less than 50% of what I would be making in the US. Each year I change apartments (10 in 5 years). I missed out on my beloved grandparents’ last years and accepted the fact that I can’t afford kids, or let alone a wife or a dependent, anytime soon. I won’t be a young homeowner, car owner, or backyard barbecuing Sunday football enthusiast. And this is the most beautiful thing of all.
Starting from this foundation (or lack of) opens up a world of possibility. I can jump on a plane tomorrow and successfully relocate to anywhere in the world with relatively no stress. Minimalism at its finest. I can pack up all of my belongings in roughly 10 minutes. The freedom of choice is the most refreshing feeling in the world and this is not a luxury of the rich and famous.
The best part is you can still have stability and be ambitious while living abroad. I am doing it now by living in Thailand and working with some of the region’s top entrepreneurs on a day to day basis. I applied to this job online from Houston just like any normal job back home.
Think about it. If you have entrepreneurial dreams, you can strive towards them from anywhere. Why not abroad during the prime of your life? It could be the greatest life hack and hedge against failure. Did your startup fail? Fuck it, at least you spent those years in Southeast Asia and not in a cramped NYC apartment. Particularly relevant for those who slave for 30 years towards a goal of retiring abroad anyway. I can’t figure that one out.
Most importantly, it is about investing in yourself. Culturally, intellectually, and spiritually. If you can manage this balance while maintaining a stable career track, you have managed to expedite 30 years of work and delayed happiness for a constant adventure. World travel really is possible if you want it.
It is not about money, but rather mentality
I urge anyone reading this to be global ambassadors next time they hear someone belittle another person’s travel story for calling a trip “amazing”. Don’t make fun of that “weird” girl from high-school that “somehow” is a world traveler. Think before throwing the term “trust-fund baby” at anyone living abroad. World travel is not exclusive, it is for everyone.
Remember the conscious sacrifices made by some of us. We don’t think we are better than anyone, really we don’t. We are always ready to help others by opening our doors, giving advice, and showing how it can be done.
Until next time…your poor ambitious storyteller signing off from cloudy Bangkok.