9 Months, 16 Countries, 4 Continents: Why I Quit My Job And Started Traveling The World Solo
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When I used to study at the university, I had a dream that one day I’d hike up to Everest Base Camp and stare at the highest point on Earth. It wasn’t until many years later that I had the opportunity to go after this dream. I asked almost every friend that I had if they wanted to join me. Nobody else shared my dream at that time, but I decided that I will follow my curiosity and go alone. This started my life of solo travel and hostel life. This was the best experience I have ever had in life and I wanted more. I saw perhaps the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen and met some of the friendliest people. Hanging out with new friends every day after an amazing hike is one of the simple but yet most beautiful experiences of life.  


On the way to Kala Patthar with Mount Everest in the background

On the way to Kala Patthar with Mount Everest in the background 


One year later I went on another solo trip. This time, I made my way to the Canadian Rockies, Northwest Territories (Canada) and Yukon (Canada). During this trip, I saw the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis dancing above my head as I camped alone in the forest in Yellowknife, Canada. During the day, I had the luck of seeing a sun dog. Apparently, they are not that rare, but I guess I never really look up at the sky often.  


Peyto Lake, Canadian Rockies

Peyto Lake, Canadian Rockies


                                                                               Cirque Peak, Canandian Rockies

Cirque Peak, Canadian Rockies


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Why I quit my job and started traveling the world solo?

These two trips made me realize that exploring the unknown makes life more interesting. There are thousands of strangers to meet. I wanted to hear more stories from people about their lives and explore more of this planet. I started planning my big solo world trip. I was going to start exploring and continue until I was satisfied or broke (keeping an emergency fund of course). It could take 3 months or even 24 months. There were some questions going through my mind. 

  • What if I cannot find a job that pays like my current job again? 

  • What if I don't have enough money for my future because I am spending a lot of it now? 


I have confidence in myself that I can accomplish anything I really want to within reason. So these concerns were not that major. Besides, to give up an adventure like this for job security and some extra cash in retirement did not make much sense. Life is fleeting, and if there is something you really want to do now and you have the ability to do so, why wait? 

 

There were some strong reasons why this trip had to be taken earlier than later. 

  • Maybe I will not be as healthy as I am today again. 

  • Maybe I will not have money to ever do this again. 

  • Maybe I will never be able to take time off like this due to other commitments. 

  • Maybe I will not be able to travel solo like this for an extended period of time.  

 

Traveling solo was very important for me. When you go solo, you leave your bubble behind and truly let yourself be free and open up yourself to learning about other people and their cultures. It is a lot easier to make new friends as well. 

  

I did not have any major commitments like relationships, debt, etc. The only thing that was truly stopping me from following my dream was perhaps greed. The biweekly salary coming in can be addicting. It can really stop you from following your dreams. I started saving and once I had enough money to start my trip, it took 3 more months of intense analysis before I could break free from the shackles I created in my mind. I finally quit my job and started on an adventure I had been dreaming about for a very long time. 

  

I live in Toronto, and my journey started by driving east. I said goodbye to family and friends and started driving. There was never a solid plan. The plan was to see where life takes me. I knew that I wanted to focus my road trip on exploring nature. I hopped from national park to national park for the next two and a half months with Silver Bullet. That's what I called my silver Mazda. My partner for that epic road trip of almost 18,000 kilometers. We went all the way to the Atlantic coast and then through the south of the USA to the Pacific coast and then north to Canada where Vancouver was the last stop. I passed through Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and then in the USA through Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington and then into British Columbia, Canada.  

 

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park


Pacific Coast, California

Pacific Coast, California


Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah


During this time, I camped in many national parks, hiked hundreds of kilometers, slept in my car some nights, seen the highest tides in the world in New Brunswick, seen plenty of wildlife including marine life, seen all types of landscapes and attempted surfing in the ocean for the first time in Tofino.  


Driving the empty roads of Utah

Driving the empty roads of Utah


Backcountry camping in Canada

Backcountry camping in Canada


I sold my car in Vancouver and visited my family in Bangladesh where I made a side trip to Nepal with my brother. From Bangladesh, I backpacked through Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Spain and ended up in Brazil where I had to make a decision. The COVID-19 situation was getting serious and it was time to return to Canada. 


Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam


Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam

  Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam


Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal


These 9 months were very memorable. They were full of nature exploration, sampling food, experiencing new cultures, and most important of all, making new friends. I met over a thousand people including backpackers and locals. Hanging out, exploring, and eating amazing food with new friends, and getting to know their stories is perhaps one of the ultimate life experiences. It gets better when you meet locals. This can be a bit challenging when you do not speak their language but a smile goes a long way. I learned some basic Japanese before going to Japan which made it much easier to meet locals. I learned to ride a motorcycle in the mountains of North Vietnam, stayed with locals in villages, and enjoyed dancing for the first time in my life. 


 My motorcycle crew in Vietnam

 My motorcycle crew in Vietnam


Homestay with locals near Ha Giang, Vietnam. Hotpot and amazing company.

Homestay with locals near Ha Giang, Vietnam. Hotpot and amazing company


Our Hmong guides for climbing the highest peak in Vietnam

Our Hmong guides for climbing the highest peak in Vietnam


A beach in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. I spent a lot of time sleeping and listening to books at beaches

A beach in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. I spent a lot of time sleeping and listening to books on beaches


Fun times in Z Hostel Manila, Philippines

Fun times in Z Hostel Manila, Philippines


Mochi became my favorite new food in Kyoto, Japan

Mochi became my favorite new food in Kyoto, Japan


Final day at Hostel Mitsuwaya Osaka, Japan. Many fun memories here

Final day at Hostel Mitsuwaya Osaka, Japan. Many fun memories here


I was able to get out of my comfort zone on many occasions and that is a key for personal growth. Solo travel can definitely contribute to that. It is not amazing all the time though. There have been times where I felt lonely especially when camping alone and sometimes when I arrive in a big city on the first day. The key to changing that to an amazing experience is to smile and talk to strangers. There have been times where I encountered unfriendly people, but that is part of the experience and makes the world more interesting. 10/10 would do this again. 


This incredibly inspiring story was originally written by Hamdan

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Comments

  • GAFFL
    Mildred
    May 29, 2020 at 1:49 AM

    Hello, I am very impressed of your solo adventure. I started making my plan to visit more countries. I am really working to visit Nepal, Bhutal, Pakistan and other countries. Most countries that you visited are in my bucket list. Would you share how did you do it. It will help us all to make our plan or dreams come true. Please and thank you. You are an inspiration to travel more. Hostel you stayed when visiting the place.

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