In light of my current lifestyle I’ve decided to take an indefinite break from posting new articles. This blog is devoted to travel and working online, neither of which I’m doing that much of right now. I’m living in New York City, I’ve got a full time job working as a writer and I couldn’t be happier. Every day I look up at the skyscrapers and think how grateful I am to be in my favorite place in the world. Kiev is swell, Miami is beautiful, Berlin is amazing, but there is nowhere in the world like New York. This is why I’m content to stay in one place for a while.
Will I travel again? Without a question. Seeing the rest of Scandinavia is a huge priority and I won’t consider my life complete until I’ve partied in Ibiza. Not to mention South America! But that’s in the future. In the present I’m thrilled to have an amazing job, and I’m reveling in the challenge of making it in New York.
Lessons from Travelling
A. The first thing that sprang to mind is Germans are cool. Whether meeting Germans in Bangkok or London, Kiev or Hanoi, they always struck me as the coolest chaps around. It’s a big part of the reason I’m studying German and why I blew my entire savings account on a month long trip to Berlin in September.
B. You’re capable of overcoming more challenges than you think. If you don’t go with a tour (which I highly recommend not doing), travelling is hard work. You have to buy bus tickets, find your way around, take a taxi, get directions, and function in a place where you don’t know the culture and the people may or may not speak English. However, you learn pretty quick that there’s always a solution to any problem.
C. The world works differently from where you were born and raised. What you consider incredibly strange is remarkably mundane for someone else. In Dubai there are separate compartments on the subway for chicks and dudes. In Hanoi families eat their dinner on the sidewalk while hundreds of people walk by. In Moscow people have an aversion to smiling but it’s OK to smoke on the train.
D. You can’t run away from yourself. As Seneca the Younger put it: “How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you?” Wherever you go, there you are. If I’m in New York and I take a jet to Constantinople, I might feel free for a day or two, but I still check my mental baggage onto the plane with me. The only thing that’s changed is I can’t understand what anyone is saying and I’m out the cost of an overseas ticket. Instead of counting on travel to escape from problems that bother me, I’ve found that it’s better to get them taken care of wherever I already am.
E. People who you meet while travelling tend to continue travelling. For my old college friends, going to NYC for a few days is a big deal. Maybe even Miami for a week, but they rarely do anything “big”. However, I look at my Facebook feed and I see Americans I’ve met overseas and they never seem to be in the same place. Someone is always buying a ticket to somewhere exotic and doing something zany and awesome. This guy is in Australia, that girl is back in Thailand. And so it goes. I’m more likely to meet up with one of these people in Bombay then I am back at home.
F. In spite of the flaws, I like my own country. Americans are culturally retarded, they weigh too much, they’re on the precipice of electing a foul-mouthed liar, and they think that owning a machine gun is as unquestionable a right as breathing. Thankfully many of them don’t ever leave the country, or they might realize that people the world over are laughing at them. It’s frustrating and there is so much I would like to change. And yet America is still my home. I like how friendly people are, I like getting excellent service in a restaurant, I like the amazing pizza, I like having ice in my Coke, and I like the small towns and the big cities and everything in between. Most of all, I like being able to understand the language and know what the fuck is going on. America is flawed, but any country that can produce a place like NYC has got to have some real heart.
G. Finally, I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. For more than a year now I’ve been living out of my two backpacks. And the longer I do it the more likely I am to keep even less stuff. However, I strive to make sure that what I do keep is only the best shit. I buy $100 jeans because they kick ass, and I have a pair of $200 German headphones that have lasted through the worst conditions imaginable. One day I’ll have a house with a living room and own a kid or two, but the lesson remains: the stuff you own ends up owning you.
I’ve been writing for six years now. I write because I enjoy it and it’s better than watching TV. In four years I’ll have been writing for a decade. That’s exciting! And a good idea to close with. If I do post anything again before I start travelling, it will probably be stories. I tend to go through a phase once or twice a year where I get a kick out of writing short stories. Then it fades and I forget all about it and life continues. So until it’s time to scratch the story itch, I’ll leave you with a quote from Tim Ferriss, one my role models and a man whose hand I want to shake.
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do”