4 months ago I decided to sell 95% of my possessions and travel. This decision came from having a real shitty year. That year included depression, anxiety, exhaustion, burning out and just getting fucking fed up with the life I had built.
16 weeks later and I made it from New Jersey to Portland, OR. My mission was to gain a clear head and really learn who I am to see what exactly it is that I want.
What I found is that wherever you go there you are. That’s the biggest take away. Everything exists in our heads. Whether its fear, happiness, sadness, doubt, worry, etc. You are the master of your world. Period. People don’t realize that they get to choose what happens to them. I don’t want to get too deep into it but if you want to peel back some layers into how my thought process now works just read anything that is related to the law of attraction. Like The Alchemist, The Secret, or Think and Grow Rich.
However, there is something to be said about getting out of the environment you are in to clear your head. That is what this trip has been and I have started to gain the clarity that I wanted. I can write a ton about what I think people should get out of traveling but instead I opened it up to my friends to see what they wanted to know. They came up with some great questions so I will do my best to answer them from the experience I have had so far.
How do you burn a day? Or do you ever? By that I mean, if you’re spent, tired, too stressed, is there a way to take “day off” even though you don’t have a home or couch to lay on? Do you still ever need that?
The places I stay are usually a friend/family member’s house, Airbnb, or I sublet. When you stay with friends and family you kind of match your day to theirs which is awesome because you get to catch up and explore with a tour guide. Even though this is great, I try to limit my stay at these places to 2 or 3 days max. Here’s a few reasons why:
- It’s very easy to overstay your welcome even though they say you won’t. They won’t ever tell you this but you should be self aware that you are interrupting their daily routine so stay conscious of that.
- Everyone wants to party when you visit which is great but when you bounce from spare room to spare room for 3 weeks straight the party starts to wear you out.
When I feel like I need a moment alone I usually just go to the spare room I am staying in and let them know I need to check email. This helps me take a break from the activities to actually check email or sometimes I’ll take a 10-12 minute power nap. This usually gets me back in the game. If I feel that I need more time to be alone I’ll just let them know that I want to go explore the area and I’ll be back in a few hours. Everyone respects the fact that I am on this journey to explore so they 100% get it. Then I go out, grab a coffee and either sit on a bench in a park or go to some place where I can people watch or take photographs. Being a photographer is VERY helpful because it gives you a reason to explore a city for hours without getting bored.
I stayed at a Hostel in San Francisco for one night and that was pretty cool even though you share a room with 5 strangers. The way I got time to myself was walking around downtown with my camera and then getting dinner at a place that was next door. The hardest thing about this trip is I gave up drinking for 20 weeks so sitting at a bar to eat is a little different when you are pounding soda water or Sprite.
It’s easy to not get burned out with Airbnb or subletting a place because all you have to do is go into your room and shut the door. That’s it. It helps having a laptop because I get to do the following:
- Research the area with google maps
- Catch up with friends on Facebook
- Edit my photos
- Edit video
- Watch Netflix
So yeah, you just have to get creative but you will get the most alone time by utilizing Airbnb or subletting a place.
How much planning ahead do you do? In regards to this trip, do you book places to stay way in advance? Or do you kind of figure it out as you go?
When I started the trip I decided that I wanted to keep it simple and not over think it. Austin and Portland became the 2 main destinations that I chose to stay for a month or so before I left New Jersey. This helped me plan a basic route. I researched Airbnb, found a place in Austin for a week and booked it right away. This meant I had to be in Austin by the end of March. Once I knew where I was headed I announced it on Facebook.
All of a sudden I had my first 3 weeks planned because I luckily had friends and family spread out down to Texas. I posted about my trip and immediately people came out of the wood work offering me a place to stay while passing through.
This was awesome because I always see people posting “You need to visit” or “We should make plans to see each other”. The reality is that people usually have limited time off from their jobs (this is why I suggest everyone work for themselves and just travel) so when it comes time to spend a week somewhere they usually don’t think of visiting a friend in Random Place, USA. Luckily for me I was able to see family and friends that I probably would not have otherwise made the trek to visit. Some stays were with people I met over a decade ago and kept in touch with on a limited basis throughout the years. It was amazing seeing them again. I am truly blessed that I was able to see everyone so far and there’s still a ton that I will get to see as I continue this new lifestyle.
Ok back to how to structure your travels:
- Pick a city to stay for a month (in this case it was Austin).
- Ask friends on Facebook what areas are good to stay in since I could end up in the middle of a shitty area and would never know it until I arrive.
- After obtaining a general consensus I look that area up on Airbnb to see what is available for my price range.
- Read the reviews and contact the owner to ask about parking, if they have wifi and make sure they are cool with me using their kitchen to cook a lot.
- Once I get a good reply (which happens 99% of the time) I only book a week to start.
- Then I open up Google Maps and find out what CrossFit/Gym is near the place I am staying. 5-10 miles is usually my limit for driving.
- I contact that box and let them know I am going to drop in.
- When I officially arrive at my Airbnb I go to a CF class the next day. If I like the box then I sign up for a month.
- This now becomes my epicenter for finding other places to book the next Airbnbs.
While I was in Austin I stayed in 4 places. I would move into the next one each Sunday. MAKE SURE if you stay multiple places in a row you book the move in day as the same day you move out of the previous place. I made the mistake of not doing this and almost had to drop over $100 for one night at a hotel in Austin. Luckily the place I was staying at had an opening so I was able to there. Booking Sunday to Sunday is a good idea. It just makes it easier for the transitioning.
I stayed in 4 different places for 4 weeks because I wanted to know what it was like to live in different areas of a town that I had never been to. This was awesome because I got to meet amazing people and get their take on where they liked to go in Austin. Getting feedback from the locals is super effective.
That said, now that I am in Portland I plan on living in different areas of the city for a month at a time. This way I don’t have to feel rushed to pack up my shit and move to a new place each week.
Any drawbacks to using Airbnb that you’ve encountered?
I LOVE Airbnb. I’ve rented from 7 different places since I left and they are always hosted by the nicest people. There’s just this sense of positive community and everyone seems to be on the same page. I’ve had a couple places that were not able to host me but that was just because they were already booked.
My advice is to read through the comments of the people that stayed there. I found this really cool place in Austin and was just about to book it until I read that they had no wifi. I can’t run a business with no wifi.
Also, make sure your profile is filled out with a lot of photos and descriptions of who you are. Whenever you leave a place make sure to write a review. This is just nice to do and it will prompt them to review you as well. This helps people feel comfortable letting you stay in their house. Fortunately I am an awesome room mate so my reviews are stellar. You can see for yourself.
If you feel like checking out the places I’ve stayed while on the road here is the list –
Redondo Beach, CA
San Francisco, CA (this was the Hostel)
Here are the CrossFit’s I have visited just so I can give them a shot out –
CrossFit Bridgewater (Bridgewater, MA) – http://bridgewatercrossfit.com/
CrossFit Rumble (Hyannis, MA) – http://www.crossfitrumble.com/
524 (South Boston, VA) – https://www.facebook.com/crucifiedflesh524
Raleigh CrossFit (Raleigh, NC) – http://raleigh-crossfit.com/
BTB Fitness (Atlanta, GA) – http://btbfitness.com/
CrossFit Austin (Austin, TX) – www.crossfitaustin.com
KMF CrossFit (San Diego, CA) – http://kmfcrossfit.com/
CrossFit Murrieta (Murrieta, CA) – http://crossfitmurrieta.com/
CrossFit Southbay (Hermosa, CA) – http://www.crossfitsouthbay.com/
Since everything you own is in your car, do you unpack everything at each new destination or do you typically only bring in your essentials, like clothes, etc?
I’ve pretty much got it down to a science at this point. The place I am staying at determines what I bring inside. If I am staying a friend/family members house then I just keep a lot of stuff in my car since it’s parked in their driveway. Now that it’s summer I tend to bring more stuff inside so it doesn’t melt.
Typically I bring in a bag of clothes and valuable items that I would not want to get stolen. I still leave other stuff in my car like my tent and sleeping bag and the rest of my kitchen since I basically took all of my cooking gear. This makes me think that I still have items that are taking up space and unnecessary to hold on to. It’s funny because every single thing I own is in my car yet I still feel the need to get rid of more stuff. Interesting…
The only time I haven’t felt safe leaving stuff in my car was when I kept it in a paid parking lot overnight. I left a lot of valuables in it because it was either that or bring them into the Hostel; I wasn’t sure who I would be staying with so I felt safer leaving my things in the car. Luckily this worked out in my favor.
How do you stretch a dollar knowing you’re going to be gone so long?
Luckily for me I own a company so this helps fund the whole voyage. Although, as I stated earlier, I am not actively searching for new business. At this point clients who we have worked with reach out here and there when they want to start a new animation project so I have been lucky on that front.
My main focus right now is living off of this blog. If you are reading this and live off of your own blog I would love some tips! Feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
As for how I spend my money, it depends. My main costs are food, housing, and gas. Other than that I don’t really buy random shit.
Every Sunday I grocery shop for the week and spend anywhere from 50 – 70 bucks. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinners. I typically go out to dinner on the weekends but not drinking for the next 14 weeks really keeps down the cost.
Housing runs me anywhere from 1100 – 1500 a month. I was paying 1630/month while living in NJ so that was already budgeted. I am sure other people who are traveling might say that I am paying a lot but for me it’s a lifestyle I got used to and it opens up opportunities when I want to stay in nice places. I’m saving money by not having to pay for utilities, cable, or internet.
As for gas, I really don’t drive a lot unless I am on route to my new destination. California kicked my ass since prices where between $3.50 and $4/gallon. Luckily gas prices were stupid low the first 2 months on the road.
Do you have a fund put aside to “reboot” when, or I guess if, you find a place to settle down? If not what’s your plan in that regard?
I am not really sure that I plan on settling down again. What I envision is one day buying a log cabin on a lake somewhere, making that my home base 30 – 40% of the year and spend the rest of the time traveling. It will be cool when I meet someone someday who has a lifestyle that matches mine and wants to visit new places as much as I do. Until then I’m rocking this solo.
So no, I don’t have anything set aside as far as a fund goes. Part of this journey is figuring out how to live like this and make money at the same time so my life can become my job. That sounds like a great goal and I can’t wait until I reach it.
After this experience can you ever see yourself settling into a 9-5 corporate gig doing work for a larger company exclusively?
The only way I see myself doing anything for a company would be consulting. The focus would either be health or marketing.
Although, if Airbnb offered me a job I might change my mind. Maybe they can send me all around the world and do videos about the places I stay… JUST A THOUGHT.
What happens if you total your car during the trip?
Then I sell the rest of my shit, buy a one way ticket to somewhere in the world and start traveling like that.
How far out do you have this mapped vs impulse and on the fly?
Portland was the last place I planned up to. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and here are some options:
- Stay out here for a few months and mix in visiting Seattle for a week and then Vancouver then head back to Portland.
- Keep my car somewhere in Portland and fly over to Vietnam and Thailand to travel for a while.
- Head to Salt Lake City and Denver to be a snow bum for a few months.
- Slowly make my way back to the East coast and keep living like this over there in places like Maine, VT, Boston then eventually keep my car at a family members house to visit Europe for a while.
What’s the hardest part of traveling?
Settling into a new place the day you get there is always intimidating but it quickly becomes easy once you get to know the area. That’s why I immediately get in my car after getting all of my shit squared away and explore the area. My new favorite thing to do is get lost because that’s the best way to not be lost anymore. I did this in Austin a lot and quickly realized that the “wrong turns” I took often became short cuts.
It’s hard meeting new people and making friends. A lot of cities are very transient so the locals are used to people coming and going. This puts up a guard with some folk which makes it difficult to get invited to things. I have gotten used to hanging out by myself but I would like to mix in more social gatherings with the same group of people.
Some might say long drives are the worst but I absolutely love them. I put on an audiobook about mindset or success and 6 hours becomes nothing. My advice is to choose scenic routes if you can because it helps with losing track of time.
What are simple things you took for granted that you really miss being on the road? Conversely – what’s the best thing about traveling with so little holding you back?
Honestly, the only thing I miss having around me all the time is my Boston Terrier. Luckily a good friend is watching her while I am gone and she’s got another dog in the house who she gets to play with. That makes me happy. But she’s the sweetest dog ever and I miss her.
The best thing about traveling is realizing that the life I lead wasn’t 100% fulfilling. I am completely free at this very moment. It takes me 10 minutes to pack my car with everything I own and go wherever I want whenever I want to go there.
For example, I can spend this week living in Portland, next week in Seattle, the week after that in Montana and then if I feel like it come back to Portland the week after that. That’s freedom.
Although, I do like structure so I need a constanct like a gym, my grocery store or a favorite restaurant to feel a little grounded.
Which state has the highest quality nighttime companions?
This question was more of a joke but to be honest I’ve had a hard time meeting people because I’m a little fucked up from my divorce. The relationship I had with my ex-wife was so comforting and I loved her so much that the moment I have a conversation with someone I immediately overthink it and see it leading to pain and heartbreak. I’ve built a giant wall this way but I’m working on it.
Plus my hit ratio on Tinder is awful. I kind of feel like a loser since all of my friends keep meeting people and I have never met anyone to this day on there. Maybe I’m too awesome for them 😉
That pretty much wraps it up! If you have any questions about traveling feel free to post in the comments below and I can either answer them there or create another post like this one.
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Keep on keepin on.