Prepare to Travel with True Nomads
In the second installment of our ongoing serious, Prepare to Travel, we talk with Justin of True Nomads to find out exactly what he did to prepare for traveling the world. He has currently been on the road for the almost three years. Justin’s story may surprise you. We know it did us. Join us as we prepare to travel with True Nomads.
AfterGlobe (AG)- Many of our readers can’t believe that others are able to travel the world long term and wonder how they are able to do this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about what you did and how to be able to do it?
True Nomads (TN)- I totally agree. People, as soon as they hear of all the places I’ve been, immediately ask if my parents back home are giving me money, or if I’m rich or something. It’s annoying for 2 reasons: first, my parents don’t give me a dime. Second, it’s annoying that they think that’s the only way, an that you can’t make it in this world alone.
AG- I can see how that could get annoying. You’ve achieved a huge dream, for many, by getting to travel the world. When did you start thinking about traveling long term? What changed to go from dreaming about it to actually making it happen? Did you make a plan, budget or any other goals?
TN- Well I never thought about it actually! I loved traveling and that’s what I wanted to do, but like most of the world, I assumed you could only travel on vacation times from work, maybe a couple weeks a year. But one day I went on a Uni backpacking trip to Southern Africa for winter break. There’s where it all changed. I don’t remember ever being that happy in my life, even though I was doing what was deemed the socially acceptable things in America.
Then, when the Africa trip was almost over, I actually became depressed that it was ending. It was like I had an epiphany or something. All of the sudden it dawned on me- Why? Why go back if I dot want to? Why not do what makes me happy? When I couldn’t intelligently answer those three things, I made alternatives. It’s my life, no one in the world can dictate how it plays out. There will be no one to blame if I go back into a situation that doesn’t make me happy, except myself.
So I didn’t. I went to my professor and trip leader and told him I didn’t want to go back. Know what he said? “I hoped you’d say that”. So I stayed. I said goodbye to the other students and was left in Africa alone, with my money nearly gone. But I was happy. That was over 2.5 years ago, I’m still on the road.
I never planned anything. It was completely spontaneous. One minute I thought I was going home soon, the next I was alone in Africa with no return flight or enough money to buy one.
I didn’t want to be one of those people that travel until the money runs out, then went home to save for the next one. Most of the places you go to, the flight is a major expense. So I started learning to be a budget traveler, and to find work on the road. Now I travel till the money is gone, then start working wherever I might be, instead of going home. Never more than 3 months, and then I’m on the road again. So I guess the learning I did wasn’t on how to save to travel, it was how to save WHILE traveling, so as to keep on.
AG- Wow! That’s pretty amazing. I understand getting depressed about having to go back at the end of a trip. I completely admire you for staying in Africa.
You’ve said on your site, True Nomads, that you “sold all my things and left home”. How did you go about selling all of your possessions? Did you keep anything and put it in storage? What was your reasoning behind getting rid of and/or keeping items?
TN- This was the easiest part I guess. When I say I sold my possessions, I actually mean I abandoned them haha. Since I planned on coming back in 4 weeks, I hadn’t sold anything. So after I decided to stay in Africa, I spent a couple days online talking to friends telling them they could have whatever they wanted. Luckily my roommate was cool and was ok with having the place to himself. I didn’t have to continue paying rent; which would have been impossible.
AG- Any advice that you think will help others save for traveling long term?
TN- I cover this stuff a lot in my blog, True Nomads. First of all, you have to commit fully. I find that when a thing is my number one priority, then it gets done. Every single day people tell me how they wish they could travel forever like I do. When I ask why they don’t, they say they can’t afford it because they have car payments and house payments and cellphone and blah blah blah. Are you hearing yourself!?! You say this is your dream, yet the thing stopping it from happening is a material thing that you don’t need?? Are you a slave?? Own things, don’t let them own you. If you want to travel, travel. If you want to live in the same town in the house on the hill with the white fence, then do that. Unless you are rich, they aren’t both going to happen.
My second piece of advice, is to realize that traveling isn’t as expensive as you think. You might have to get hard core, but it is easy to travel on even $10 a day or less. I AM NOT SPECIAL, or rich. Yet here I am, 3 years ad 51 countries later.
AG- Many times when reading travel blogs, we find ourselves thinking that we need to buy a bunch of things to be able to travel long term. Did you experience this? What things do you now realize that you didn’t really need? What would be your top recommendations for items you think really are needed?
TN- Of course I experience this, I’m American and it’s in my blood! We always need the best an most things, don’t we!? Well I learned how shit this is for traveling, about 5 minutes in. My backpack was about 75 lbs, and I justified that thinking I would need a lot of stuff because I was traveling a month. By the end of the month I was carrying about 20 lbs, and didn’t need anything. If your going to be a long term traveler, don’t bring anything extra. You save money on buses or plains, it’s convenient, and you don’t get worn out an spend money on a taxi instead of walking.
The only things that I would recommend are these-
Nice backpack. It will be your only constant friend through the years.
Small laptop if you’re a blogger.
Water purifier or steri-pen in certain countries. (Small and save money on bottled water)
Besides these things, just the regular clothes and what-not, but not too many!! 4 or 5 shirts, 3 pants, 3 shorts. Some socks. That amount of clothes isn’t too heavy, and with a compression sack, won’t take much room at all. Do laundry once a week and you’re good (learn to wash clothes in a sink for free).
I can go on all day, I know these are long answers. But it’s my passion. I’m writing a book called how to travel the world on $10 a day or less, and it will also include getting ready for the trip.
AG- Well, you certainly threw us for a loop with your incredible story of not going home after a vacation. One last question, do you have any additional advice for those who want to travel the world long term?
TN- When it comes to long term travel, what we are really talking about is a life style. So treat it like you would whenever changing your life style: make it your priority, and fully commit. Don’t over plan or over analyze, because you might scare yourself into never leaving. Just jump head first, and figure it out along the way. Always works for me, and believe me it’s worth it.
Thank you so much to Justin for sharing with us how to prepare to travel with True Nomads for doing this interview with us today. Make sure you head over to True Nomads to find out more about Justin’s travels around the world.
All photos provided by True Nomads.