Find out how Adam, a long term traveller from Usa, passed from a "hit and run" lifestyle to his Happy Nomad Tour!
I’m a 31-year-old American from Cleveland, Ohio. I studied electrical/computer engineering and then worked on oil rigs in the Persian Gulf. While there I traveled a lot, but I was utterly miserable. I went to business school in Spain for my MBA and then worked in renewable energy in Denmark. I traveled as much as I could in all three of these phases, but it was never enough, so I’ve made a life out of traveling.
When you started travelling and why?
I had a study abroad experience my last year of college. I took a class about Egypt’s history and culture and then during spring break I went to Cairo, Alexandria, and Sharm El Sheikh with 40 people from my university. Though I got terribly sick there, I still caught the travel bug and 10 years later it’s as strong as ever. I’ve always been curious about the world. That study abroad experience showed me how relatively easy it was to go to a place, get around, and learn more than you ever could at home.
What's your travel style?
In my previous life I visited 40-some countries in what I call “hit and run” traveling – landing and running around for a couple days to see all the monuments before leaving. On The Happy Nomad Tour I traveled much more slowly, focusing on having meaningful interaction with local people, volunteering, and walking as many miles in local shoes as I could. I do couchsurf, which has helped me meet so many wonderful people still a part of my life today. It also helped keep cost down, spending less than $900 on accommodation in 918 days of traveling.
I fly as little as possible, traveling from Mexico to Peru 100% by land, for example. I do what locals do, getting in crowded public buses instead of taking a taxi.
How many continents and countries have you visited so far and what are your favourites?
I’ve been to five continents and 84 countries. My favorite countries to potentially live in are Cyprus, Thailand, and Georgia. My favorites to visit are Myanmar, India, and Peru.
What's the aim of your travels?
What are you looking for while travelling? I started out looking for happiness, but realized happiness was within me the whole time. From there I focused on building empathy and understanding what it is to be human and “why are we here” kind of stuff. I interacted with as many people as possible, as there was so much to learn from each person I met on the road.
What's the best memory you keep from your travels?
I don’t have a particular memory that sticks out. I met so much kindness in the face of adversity that it’s hard to pick one particular moment. I was in Pokhara, Nepal heading by tourist bus to Lumbini, Nepal – the birthplace of Buddha right at the border with India. Even though I asked three staff members if I was on the wrong bus, all confirmed I was on the right one. Five hours later I arrived at the base of the Himalayas nearly in China, completely in the wrong place.
I spent the next 12 hours taking extremely crowded local buses down to Lumbini. On each bus I found someone who spoke English and helped me get to the next bus – often a far more complicated task than I expected since towns in Nepal seem to have more than one bus station or unofficial bus stops along the side of the road for intercity travel. It seems like every time I got into such a situation on The Happy Nomad Tour some angels were there, ready to help me get where I needed to go. It was beautiful.
And the worst one?
I was robbed three times on The Happy Nomad Tour, and had some things stolen from my bag courtesy of airline baggage handlers. But one of the robberies happened in Colombia, where three guys surrounded me, put me in a headlock, and were a bit violent. I didn’t get hurt and they actually didn’t get any money. It was a hit and run incident, where they just looked for my wallet in my back pocket, but I never used a wallet in Latin America since it isn’t safe. So I just lost a bit of pride and sense of security in the incident, but a few days later I was back to normal.
Tell us a funny situation you experienced.
While in Colombia I drank some juice that didn’t agree with me. Once I found a bathroom I took care of the problem and was on my way. I was wearing a traditional El Salvadoran shirt, a gift from a community there. It was much longer than a shirt I would normally wear.
In public bathrooms I tend to mummify toilet seats. As I got up from the toilet, part of that mummification got picked up by my long shirt and basically made a toilet paper tail. I walked around the city of Medellin the whole day with that tail, not realizing until I got to where I was staying that evening.
This normally would have embarrassed me but I didn’t care too much. I’m sure it was funny for everyone who saw me that day!
What was the most important lesson you've learned while travelling?
That happiness is a decision and we are all capable of being happier.
What’s the item in your luggage that you couldn't live without?
For the first year of The Happy Nomad Tour (and my life up until that point) I didn’t have a smart phone. When my phone stopped working in Asia because it didn’t have the GSM frequencies used there, I got a very basic Android phone and quickly wondered how I lived without Google Maps until that point.
What's your average monthly budget and how do you fund your travels?
I have funded my travels from the savings I put away while working in Denmark before The Happy Nomad Tour. My budget is around $600/month.
If you think of yourself in 10 years, how do you imagine your life?
I will have started a non-profit organization several years before and I’m working hard on expanding it and doing good in the world.
A valuable advice for a long-term traveller at the beggining of his journey?
Keep an open mind, accept that it won’t be, accept whatever comes your way and see it as fuel for your personal growth, and never say no!