Pe Sam l-am cunoscut în Rio, pe 9 august anul acesta. Eram cu Ralu din Gașca lui Coubertin, ne prăjeam la soare pe Arena din Copacabana, admirând niște băieți zvelți care jucau foarte bine volei de plajă. Și conversația noastră a început cu Sam întrebându-mă: „Can you take a picture of us?” (n.b. of him & Steve, an Australian)

„Sure”, I said. And I did.

Și-apoi am continuat să vorbim, într-un mod foarte natural. Ca în mai toate discuție de la olimpiadă, mai întâi am vorbit despre ce alte competiții a văzut fiecare, câte medalii câștigaseră țările noastre, sportivi preferați etc. Abia apoi am aflat că Sam își luase un an sabatic și că de fapt are mai bine de un an de când călătorește prin toată lumea.

Mai exact, sunt 16 luni de zile, în care s-a plimbat prin 42 de țări. Special n-am spus că „a văzut” 42 de țări, fiindcă n-aș vrea să înțelegeți că a bifat obiectivele turistice. Lui Sam pare să-i placă experiențele autentice și și-a luat timpul necesar ca să încerce cât mai multe și cât mai diverse. O să vedeți asta în pozele de la finalul articolului, dar mai întâi vă invit să citiți reflecțiile acestui călător fugit din Noua Zeelandă:

„I’m lying in a hammock heading up the Amazon river on a 9 day journey to Peru. Reflecting on the most memorable period of my life. Laughing at my own indecisiveness to finally commit to leaving everything at home, for what I would soon find out to be, the ultimate lifestyle. In hindsight, what an easy decision it should’ve been. I don’t have a blog. So if you’re interested, below is what I’ve learned 15 months in to this ridiculous journey around the globe.

Long term travel can be summarised with one word, FREEDOM. It’s the excitement of constantly experiencing something new where almost everyday is an adventure. It’s having your days responsibilities limited to waking for the free hostel breakfast. Where the mundane chores of life are non existent. It’s constantly living in the now. It’s completely changing your plans when you inevitably meet a traveller who describes some insane place that you can’t miss. It’s communicating with locals that speak no English using only hand gestures and a smile. It’s sharing your story with a stranger over too many bottles of wine, wondering if you’ll ever see them again. It’s what happens to your life when you start saying yes to everything. It’s the sensory overload of all the new food, drink and culture. All while meeting new friends that while traveling, in my opinion, are the best versions of themselves. You become more patient, open to differences in opinion/culture, outgoing, carefree, spontaneous and materialism is long forgotten when you’ve got everything you need in a 15kg pack for a lifestyle where the weekday is completely irrelevant.

I realised only a few weeks in, that you’re not invincible. Things do go wrong and you get really good at trusting that everything works out in the end. I’ve been strangled and mugged in Mexico, stuffed up visa’s, booked flights for the complete wrong month, had half my backpack stolen in a hostel, bailed on so many flights when my plans changed, got heat stroke in Vegas. Had to stand for 5 hours on a ‘chicken bus’ in Sri Lanka, got ‘Delhi belly’ three times in India, got ripped off, swindled and scammed. But these things end up being some of your best stories and are completely outweighed by the endless positives.

My perception of the ‘real world’ or ‘reality’ has been questioned. I worked really hard in the banking world for close to a decade, was very successful and I’m proud of my professional achievements. But I discovered the ‘real world’ when I left my office. The real world is watching the sun rise over Ankor Wat, summiting an active volcano at 5835 meters, agreeing to spend Christmas with a Sri Lankan family you met for only 10 minutes on a bus, partying in Ibiza, hitting block parties 10 days straight for Rio carnival, volunteering at a Vietnamese orphanage, living out of a camper-van as you road trip through Chile. I’ve come to realise that the ‘real world’ is an endless summer chasing the sun around the world, where the feel good vibes of the weekend are perpetual.

It’s not all about the money. No one ever regrets spending money on experiences. Talk to anyone, and they’ll reflect on their travels as the best time of their life. It’s only expensive when you want things to be as convenient as possible. Walk around for that little bit longer to find the right local restaurant that is three times as good and a third of the price of the main street/beach or take an overnight bus to save $80 and a nights accommodation cost. The equivalent of three days expenditure in South America. In saying that. When you do splurge out, and say, go on a party cruise through Ha Long Bay staying on your own private island. These things can end up being some of the most memorable times.

Sure, this lifestyle might not be sustainable forever. Who knows I may feel completely different in a few years. Through our surroundings and experiences, our outlook, motivations and interests change. Before traveling, I would’ve never gone on a hike. Then all of a sudden I’m in Nepal 11 days deep into a trek to the Mount Everest base camp. So for now, I’m going to keep doing what makes me feel the most alive. Having unique experiences like the time I broke in to an abandoned theme park in Berlin, made it through Hungarian and German boarders while they were temporarily closed during the immigrant crisis, trekked into a remote self sufficient Vietnamese village and stayed with a family, stayed in a Peruvian desert oasis, went straight from Vegas to spring break in Mexico to a cruise around the Bahamas to a music festival in Miami. Went fishing for piranhas in the Amazon, was elected the NZ ambassador at Tomorrowland, went paint balling in Pablo Escobar’s mansion, partied with legends at the running of the bulls and Oktoberfest, studied Spanish in Colombia, rode a camel into an Indian desert and slept under the stars. I could go on but you get the picture.

This is not a humble-brag post but one that hopefully helps show that, as cliché as the saying is, „living the dream” can be achieved if you want it enough.
For anyone considering leaving the securities at home for a life on the road. DO IT, book a ticket. Once that’s done, everything else falls into place. Don’t use money as an excuse. If you’re 100% committed, you’ll find ways to make it happen. Don’t worry about giving up your job, as soon as you arrive at your first destination, all concern and anxiety will disappear. Don’t worry about traveling alone, you’ll make life long friends in 10 minutes.

Everyone has their own means for reward and fulfilment. But when you go traveling, you soon find out the true meaning of freedom. Back home before I left, I had an amazing life “and there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what you have to look for something better?”

Sam e acum în Ecuador, iar săptămâna viitoare se va întoarce în Columbia pentru o perioadă. Apoi se va îndrepta spre Panama sau Jamaica sau Cuba. Vă recomand să-l urmăriți pe Instagram. 😉

So, is it worth giving up what you have to look for something better?