Part 2 of living epically on the road. This part will focus on the essential preparations before you embark on this journey. If you haven't read the first part you can access Part 1 here.
As you can imagine, leaving your comfort zone and venturing out into the wide, wild world requires some special skills and resources for a smoother and rewarding journey. Here is a checklist of essential resources and qualities you should have in order to live epically on the road. Everything else not listed here is just a bonus. Also I will ignore the obvious such as passport/visas, suitable clothing, toiletries, mobile phone etc. The key is efficiency – you’ve got a limited amount of space to carry with you so you are better off traveling light. The more you carry with you the more you have to lose as well so keep that in mind.
Portable laptop with internet access:
Since a lot of the time you will be doing research on accommodation, keeping in touch, looking for work or planning your next phase of your trip, it would be very wise to have some kind of portable laptop with internet access. In most modern day cities, there will be free Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces so take advantage of it whenever you can otherwise you could get a mobile-broadband SIM.
You don’t need millions to travel the world you just need enough for the essentials such as airfares/transport and food. Of course the more money you have the easier your trip is, but as you know living epically on the road is not about luxury or making your world trip a holiday. It’s all about adapting to a lifestyle with limited means that ultimately gives you the freedom to be adventurous and expand your horizons.
There is no real measure for the amount of money you need, it really depends on many factors such as how long you want to travel for, spending habits, resources, thriftiness etc. I had a friend who rode his bike from Paris to Hong Kong for 6 months who only used 250 euros (had free meals and accommodation a lot of the time)! My sister on the other hand spent under $20,000 to travel all over the world for a whole year.
I know that many people have commitments that cannot be shunned so easily, so this is more for those who are free from the commitments that can bind you to a life of complacency – I’m mainly talking about work and having a family, nevertheless, there are always ways to live epically around a life of commitment, it just involves compromising lifestyle and coming up with creative solutions.
I’ve personally opted to stay single, unmarried and without a “normal” job – just so I can have the time to live epically. Time is our single greatest resource we have, without it we don’t have anything else. You cannot get back time so why spend not spend it on something that enriches your life than makes you miserable?
As mentioned before, it takes a pretty special person to live epically on the road. If you don’t have them, don’t worry too much as traveling will help you develop these attributes over time. In fact traveling has the potential to completely change you as a person.
A lot of the time you will be dealing with a diverse range of people and there is nothing more powerful than empathy when it comes to connecting with others. Empathy is like a master key that opens many doors, people will open up to you because they feel that you are like them and understand them. In other words, empathy will take you to places that most people don’t get to see.
I’ve always had a strong sense of empathy. I could always sense and gauge with precision what people were thinking and feeling, and I would tailor my actions accordingly to accommodate to the other person. This made me so much more likeable (that’s what I think) and hence people would bend over backwards to help me, even when I didn’t need anything or ask them for anything. Let me make a vital distinction: Empathy does not mean ‘sucking up’ – it means understanding the other person and doing things that will serve their needs not their wants. It’s a rare genuine selfless quality that is worth cultivating in life.
There is nothing more attractive and infectious than pure enthusiasm (provided that it is not way over the top). Next time you make your way to work in the morning see how many people are actually excited to go to work. You probably already know the answer to that. Now, imagine you are at a party of some sort, you walk in and there are several groups dispersed around the place socializing. Most of the groups are relatively mellow, exchanging pleasantries and trying to stitch together a conversation whilst taking the occasional sip of liquid courage to loosen up. You notice one particular social circle with a warm effervescent glow around them, at the center is a relaxed, convivial and engaging young man moving to the rhythm of the music and rousing everyone around him to have some fun. All the other groups slowly gravitate towards his magnetic presence and are slowly entranced in a haze of surrender.
People are like fireflies – they are mesmerized and drawn to the light. Once entranced they will risk everything for its intoxicating energy that thaws them from their bleak realities. Now, this is the power of enthusiasm, imagine how many people you can draw into your life if you are filled with the radiant energy of enthusiasm? Your life will be enriched organically, meaning you will have an awesome time at the same time you will attract all kinds of people that want to be around you. Enough said!
A well-balanced open mind is the key to an epic life, without it you are still living in a bubble irrespective of where you are in the world. When your mind is open you allow the flow of potential into your world. This potential is the elixir that nourishes your fertile soul and cultivates an idyllic wonderland in your mind. Anything is possible when your mind is open.
Your goal in having an epic life on the road is to expand potential by opening your mind and cultivating new values, experiences and perspectives. This way, you not only enrich yourself, you become a better version of yourself.
I would like to stress ‘well-balanced’ when it comes to opening your mind. Being too open may attract detrimental influences on your life (i.e. drugs, alcohol, violence) although I don’t necessarily close myself off to these experiences I am careful to not them control my life. These experiences are all a part of life and add to the experience whether positive or negative. At the end of the day it all comes down to moderation and self-control in having a well-balanced open mind.
There will be times when the road is dark, deep and disturbing – life is just as much about the downs as it is about the ups. Just imagine your journey as a roller-coaster would you prefer it to be just a straight line or full of loops with peaks and troughs? If you want a straight line you might as well take the train because if you can’t handle the downs you won’t appreciate the ups.
Sticking with the roller-coaster metaphor, the downs are what make life great. It can push you to your limits and break you as a person if you let it. Resilience is the quality of ‘bouncing back’ after going through the downs of life. It’s the momentum of willpower that pushes you past these challenging moments and expands you as a person. Your resilience builds each time you overcome a challenge making you a better and stronger person along with it. It is a quality that will distinguish as a leader in all aspects of life and will keep you going towards your goals irrespective of how many closed doors and dark alleys you encounter.
O.k so you’ve got all the qualities you need to be an Epic life traveler, now you must do your preparations. Like anything of epic proportions, it requires lots of time and energy in preparations.
This is the most critical step of them all. This is essentially where you will create a master plan of how you will get from one place to another and eventually to your final destination. Of course most plans never go accordingly without some kind of unexpected variable, nevertheless, the more preparation you do the better you will be at dealing with the uncertainty of living life epically on the road.
'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail'~
This is where you will get everything under way, send out all the emails, messages to people that will potentially help you on your journey – you want to set up these expectations early so that people can make their necessary preparations to accommodate for you. This also involves booking tickets – I recommend buying flexible one-way tickets (allow you to change flights) especially if you are just winging it and going with the flow. Having too much of a precise schedule takes away the fun and spontaneity that comes with epic traveling. Besides, you never know the turn of events that may happen, you could the meet the love of your life, lose yourself in the beauty of an exotic city or stumble upon a once in a life-time opportunity to do something amazing.
You want to research everything you can such as the weather, the exchange rates, places of interest, social groups, local cuisines etc. Knowledge is power so keep researching. It will also be very useful if you had some kind of organizer or virtual diary to keep vital information in – it will make you far more efficient.
Preparations are all about building the momentum to keep you moving along your path so do as much research and planning as you can and your future self will thank you for it!
Make it Happen!
Take that leap of faith! Quit your job, book that ticket, pack that bag, and say your farewell to your loved ones (for the time being) because the longer you delay the less likely you will end up doing it – and the best way to do something is to just do it. Set a date and make all the necessary preparations you need to make it happen. Trust me that date will come sooner than later, especially if this is something that invigorates you. Before you know it, you will be in another city and walking along a new path in life that you’ve yet to discover.
Tips to make it happen
- Book your ticket: Make sure you book your ticket after you’ve prepared thoroughly and set a date to leave. If you’ve already made the investment to buy a ticket you will far more likely to keep the momentum in leaving for your trip.
- Tell people about your epic trip: Tell as many people as you can about when you will be leaving, the more expectations you set up in other people the more pressure you put on yourself to just do it. Leaving everything behind can be a daunting experience, it is perfectly natural to make excuses and procrastinate but you must realize that is your subconscious trying to keep you in your comfort zones (where it is safe and boring).
- Have a farewell: Having a farewell is the best way to leave, it’s like the point of no return – you’ve set up all the expectations to all your closest friends and they’ve said their goodbyes, it will be kind of awkward and disappointing if you’ve had your farewell and stay. Say your goodbyes and don’t look back.
So you've done all the hard work, made the commitment to pursue your passions and you're at the point of no return - Great! Now let's move onto the third and final part - Immersion and making the most of it on the road.