Why I Started Traveling The World
When I was 21 I moved abroad to live on the Caribbean island Aruba, where I did the research for my thesis, but it was the lifestyle of the Caribbean people that got me thinking about my perception of life. Was life all about getting a degree, starting a career, a family, settling down, and twice a year going on holiday?
I realized soon enough that this was actually not at all what I wanted and started to look for alternatives. On top of that, I met so many people from South and North America and my curiosity made me willing to explore their cultures and places.
Just before the pandemic, I started to explore more off-the-beaten-path countries like Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and it triggered me to visit more countries like this. I would say back then I spoke out loud that I wanted to visit every country in the world. The pandemic however changed that inspiration and I am sure I don’t need to explain why! But still, traveling to new places and countries is what keeps me going.
I Travel All The Time
My life is travel! I travel pretty much 365 days a year and in the meantime, I try to find time to work on my travel blog and my social media.
In the beginning years of my trips around the world, I would be all about adventure travel and still these days this is what I love doing the most like climbing mountains, chasing waterfalls, etc. These days though I love discovering new countries and off-the-beaten-path places and countries just as much.
The Inspiration For My 24 Country Trip In 2008
I wanted to break the circle of my daily routines: work, gym, sports, bar. It didn’t get me as excited as I was about seeing the world. Watching documentaries on tv was enough anymore, I wanted to see it with my own eyes.
While living in the Caribbean I got in touch with a lot of Latin culture as well as scuba diving and totally found a new passion.
Being a recently new but super excited scuba diver I wanted to dive in the Blue Hole in Belize and I also wanted to learn how to speak Spanish. Much more I actually didn’t really know about where to go and what to do. I basically had no plan!
It resulted in booking a flight to Cancun with the knowledge I was going to Tulum, scuba diving in Belize, and learning Spanish in Guatemala. The rest unfolded itself week by week.
What I Learned From This Trip
I learned about what I wanted in life, or better what I did not want! I didn’t want a life evolving around making a career, I wanted to chase happiness moreover. Doing more things that make you happy. However, very cliché but true. You need money for that because comfort is also happiness and comfort costs money.
During that trip, I figured out a lot of things about life, but overall it simply made me a better person! I would not necessarily say I got to know myself, but definitely, personal growth is endless.
How I Meet Travelers & Locals On My Trips
On my first trip around the world in 2008, I got to know a guy named Jason. He stayed in the same hostel as me and since it was pouring down rain in Cancun for 48 consecutive hours there was not much to do other than play card games. He was traveling for a bit already and he took me under his wing for the first two weeks. I will always be thankful for that as I was a complete newbie in the world of backpacking.
These days it is completely different, there are a ton of apps and Facebook groups that one can use to meet other travelers and of course social media. It makes things much easier and it is easier to pick a person you really connect with.
But I must say it is a little less exciting than getting to know a complete stranger back in the days that you met in a hostel.
Important Things To Consider For All Long Term Travelers
A sustainable income! Without an income, you will have to sacrifice a lot, although some people don’t mind doing so. There are always opportunities out there: volunteering, working abroad, etc.
It has never been my style of traveling as I like freedom. Couchsurfing is a great thing, but I felt like losing the freedom to go where I wanted as I would feel obliged to meet up with the host.
These days I made sure to get a sustainable income through blogging. Social media looks cool to the outside world, but making money from social media involves a lot of stress and uncertainty so I focused completely on blogging.
Read more about it here.
How I Manage Work & Travel
Yeah, I admit it is very very very difficult for me. It may seem like a dream life from the outside, but getting work done while traveling is one of my biggest challenges. The main reason is that I actually always travel, meaning I don’t stay in a place longer than 2-4 days mostly. So a lot of time I am spending on trip planning, where to go next, where to sleep, what to do, what to see. On top of traveling, it makes me tired.
I have to also mention that social media is not how I make money but I spend a lot of time on it. Why? I like it. Creating daily Instagram stories may be one of my biggest passions. So when I then need to sit at a desk to work on my blog I am too tired and uninspired to produce something.
How I Manage My Travel Costs
I used to travel on a budget for the first 4 years, but that changed because of my job and simply because I can afford to live larger. Luxury travel is not something I would want to say is my preferred way of traveling, but well, I am not gonna lie either: I LOVE IT!
Because of my brand Traveltomtom, I got to travel to Maldives 4 times staying in luxury resorts. Hell yes, I liked it, but also because it was for free of course. But back in the days, I started as a backpacker and I will never forget where I came from.
I still wouldn’t waste money on overly expensive day trips or hotels, I would still try to find a way to do it cheaper. I think after all those years of traveling it is in my blood now.
Countries I’ve Traveled To So Far
So far I have been to 116 countries, aiming to add about 10-20 new ones next year.
I have had uncountable travel memories of course. But a fairly recent one is my trip to Syria at the end of 2019. Seeing an amazing country being completely destroyed by 9 years of war was heartbreaking but also eye-opening. But meeting so many Syrian people that were so positive and determined about rebuilding their country was inspiring. They lost everything, but still had hopes and dreams. It still gives me goosebumps thinking back to that trip.
I would suggest you read all about my trip to Syria.
My Advice To New Solo Travelers
Find your passion! If you really want to make money online, then you can, but be patient. Work on something long-term rather than something that makes you a quick buck. If you find your passion then investing time into your project never feels like work, but feels like building up to something sustainable for the future.
Setting up successful businesses isn’t an overnight thing and be ready to fail! Throw yourself out there and don’t waste time, do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow!
Important Lessons I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Traveling
Imagine I started travel blogging back in 2008? My blog would be an empire right now! I only started blogging in 2017 and I really regret that.
Luckily I started with Instagram already before the big boom in social media so at least I was very early taking that seriously.
When it comes down to traveling itself I wish I found the inspiration to travel to every country much earlier. I have for example been at the border of Paraguay 3 times, but never visited.
By now I would have traveled to every country in the world already and not been to Thailand 17 times! It would have given me much more authority in the travel industry which would have given me many more opportunities in business and thus gained me more freedom!
Travel is freedom! Freedom is everything for me and I am very well aware that the strength of my passport allows me to be this free. I will treasure it, but also always pursue it.
New to our blog? Here are some of our inspiring solo traveler's stories worth checking!
Other cool travel stories you might enjoy!