Zebra at Thornybush

How Can We Help You Travel?

Derek Personal Stuff, Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 138 Comments

Zebra at Thornybush
As I alternate this morning between packing my backpack and standing on the balcony of my room in the South African wilderness, where I have a clear view of some zebras and wildebeests wandering around the river bed, I am left speechless.

I am speechless, not because of the animals, but because of the fact that I have now traveled to South Africa, not once, but twice in my life at this point. I am also speechless at the fact that before South Africa, I was in India for three months, and that prior to India, I had spent time in Romania, Finland, Estonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and many other destinations just within this past year.

Actually, I am speechless whenever I think back to any of the destinations I’ve visited, to any of my travels over the past 13 years. As a result, I am constantly wondering: “How on earth did I arrive in Southeast Asia back in 1999 with only $1500 to my name and somehow manage to create this lifestyle that allows me to continue traveling?”

It seems a little ‘too good to be true’, yes, even to myself at times. In fact, if I were to read about another person who claims to have done the exact same thing, I would be quite suspicious, and highly doubtful that such a life would be possible for me as well. And given this truth, I can completely understand if you feel the same way whenever you read about my story or listen to my claims of ‘anything is possible’ or that ‘there is very little stopping you from a life of travel too’.

After all, maybe I’m lying about how I began. Maybe I was really born into extreme wealth. Perhaps I don’t actually travel as much as I say I do. I could be making this all up.

While I can tell you that absolutely none of the above is true at all, why should you believe me? Why should you trust my words whenever I state, as I do often, that “if I can make this lifestyle happen, anyone can make this lifestyle happen”?

Here’s why…

The reason I ask you to trust me and to believe so deeply in yourself and in your own ability to achieve your travel goals no matter what your current situation, actually has very little to do with my own story. The real reason I am so confident that anyone can travel is because of YOU.

It is the emails you send me, the comments you leave, the tales you tell and the sheer excitement in your ‘voice’ that gives me such confidence. So many of you have written to tell me that you have suddenly found the confidence to book a flight to some faraway destination or that you have landed a job teaching English overseas or on board a cruise ship. Some of you have sold everything at home in order to finally take that round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming of for years, while others finally convinced themselves to start traveling on their own since none of their friends were interested in joining them. And the number of people who are taking off to travel soon after discovering websites such as Helpx.net or Workaway.com or finding out about working holiday visas or simply learning that travel doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive as it seems, continues to grow at a very rapid pace according to my inbox.

And I can’t even explain how thrilled I am whenever I hear that yet another one of you has built up the cajones to take the leap and start traveling in some shape or form, to enter the unknown with such confidence that no obstacle could possibly stand in your way for long. I’ve read your stories, I’ve seen your photos and have been impressed with all of your journeys, journeys that convince me over and over again that everything I claim on this site is indeed full of truth.

Whether your adventure has lasted for one or three months, six months or one year, or in some cases, indefinitely just like my own, the point is that many of you have achieved your travel goals despite having once thought that it would be impossible to do so.

Have there been challenges along the way? Sure there have and some of you have written to tell me about them. However, you’ve all kept moving forward and in the end, not one of you has written to tell me that things went terribly wrong or that you regret having made the decision to travel. Instead, the number of emails I receive from those who are ecstatic about their adventures and who wish they had started traveling earlier now that they understand how possible it all is, grows by the day!

Again, don’t take my word for it or trust in my story alone. Find your inspiration in the fact that one after one, many of your fellow readers of this blog have turned the impossible into pure reality themselves. And if they can make it happen, each with their own unique background, then no excuse is strong enough to convince me that the same isn’t possible for you as well.

Let’s try this. It’s an idea that just came to me…

If you have any questions at all about travel or about something that seems to be holding you back from taking that first step, please let us know in the comments below. Feel free to ask about anything you want and remember, we all had to ask questions before we started, so every question is a good one!

If you have already gone out there into the world and achieved your own travel goals, I now invite you to tell your own story or to offer your own insight below, either as a comment or a response to any questions that are asked. Through your own experiences and mine, we can help ensure that every concern is addressed, every doubt squashed, every fear conquered and ultimately, that everyone’s travel dreams are fulfilled.

So, how can we help you achieve your travel goals? What is needed to convince you that you can explore this world of ours?

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Comments 138

  1. Haley

    Hello Earl
    I am 18 years old, graduating high school this weekend.
    My plans are to go move in with my grandparents in Ecuador (They have just moved and bought a house near Montanita) I am selling all of my stuff and working as hard as i can. My dad doesnt believe in my dreams and wants me to go to college right away, however im just not into the conventional lifestyle right now. I cant fight the travel bug that bit me when i was younger. I am the most excited i have ever been, especially since i have been offered an opportunity to work on the Galapagos islands through helpx in October. I plan on starting a blog before i leave and i was wondering if you have any words of encouragement!

  2. brittany

    im 27 years old and i love to travel i have spent my life growing up traveling to different places within the U.S. i have also been to Egypt. I love to teach and travel i would like to know some of the first steps to take in order to start taking and planning trips to different places for groups? id also like to ask do you take tours to places you have never been before or do you first visit the place before traveling there. lastly what are some tips to marketing the tours. thanks

  3. bryanm

    hey, Earl.

    I just found out about this lifestyle and am extremely excited to do it. i know i will! im 20 years old and am finishing up with college(mechanic school) this year. sadly , i haven’t got a penny saved up yet.so i just wanted to know how much i would need for a start?(i live in uganda) also, after my first trip will i have to return or would it be possible to make money along the way for another trip right after?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Brian – It’s hard to say how much you would need as it depends on where you want to go, what your travel style would be, how fast you travel and on and on…there are too many factors involved for me to know how much money you would need to make it happen!

  4. Trisha

    Greetings Earl!

    I’ve been reading your posts for a year now and it’s one of the reason why I wanted to travel and of course explore the world out there.
    I’m now accepted for a month long training for ESL in Europe and been preparing for 6 months but I have concerns in applying for my VISA in France since I’m applying here in Asia, the agency here told me to apply for a short-term visa instead of a tourist visa. Is it necessary to apply for a student visa even though it’s just a month and it’s not really a school it’s a training center only to get my language certificate?
    Hope you can help or give me any suggestions cause I’ve been spending already thru this process. If you can please do contact me also thru my email address.
    I would greatly appreciate everything.


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Trisha – To be honest, I don’t know much about France’s visa rules so I can’t really offer any assistance with that unfortunately. Sorry about that!

  5. Morgan

    Hi Earl,
    I just bought a ticket to go to England with very little planning. I have some questions:
    Regarding a visa:
    What kind of visa should I get if I want to work or volunteer in country? I’m confused by their 5th-tier youth mobility scheme, perhaps you are familiar with it?
    If I get a 2-year visa and want to stay longer or go to other countries, can I do that? How?

    Regarding work:
    Do you have any suggestions for a young woman in terms of good places to look for work or volunteer gigs? I am currently perusing the helpx website which so far has been great, I just want to widen my search. I want to be around other 20- somethings, doing something preferably lively. Thoughts?

    Thank you for making this site, and for any help you can provide. You are truly an inspiration.



  6. Muhammed Abdul-Ghaffar

    Hello Earl, my name is Muhammed Abdul-Ghaffar and I’m currently a 17-year-old getting ready for my senior year of high school (dancing up and down). Over the past couple of years I’ve been putting A LOT of thought into what I’m going to do with my future, like for life. In society, in school, we are told to go to college and graduate and land a job, such a crummy standard. I love learning, I’m an artist, so I can’t stop learning. One of my main goals in life is to travel extensively, and I have my reasons for that as well. As I observe what’s around me, I notice a very flawed education system (USA), almost every college graduate I see has college debt stepping on their neck, and law school graduates working at Mcdonald’s and Wal-Mart, it doesn’t make any sense. So, I’ve decided that I want to travel, and I wanted to ask YOU WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT WAY TO PREPARE AND START OFF. Secondly, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO JAPAN?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Muhammed – Thanks for the comment and to be honest, that’s exactly what this site is all about. You’ll find many posts here that will help you figure out how you can prepare for traveling and how you can get started. You might want to have a look at my Getting Started page as you’ll find some of the most popular/useful posts right there!


      As for Japan, unfortunately, I haven’t been there yet. Hopefully soon though!

  7. Lu


    I am 23 years old, just finished my Bachelor, and both my parents have travelled a lot (my mum living the crazy backpacker dream and my dad travelling for his job), so in a way I am probably more used to the concept than most. However, both my parents had money gallore when they did their travelling. I don’t. I have a fair bit saved up to get me the first flight out to India, but I am considering moving further through Asia “while I’m at it”. I’m sure the thing with accommodation and food sorts itself out once I’m there, but I am nervous about the real big expense: Flights. Does anyone have experience on how to get good deals for flights when you’re flexible in dates, or are there good alternative, maybe even more environment friendly ways, to travel from country to country? What’s the best way to go about a round trip that could turn into pretty much anything at this point, and does anybody have any suggestions on hidden gems that I should definitely visit?

  8. Dusty Jordan

    I am a 26 year old graduate student currently in my last semester of graduate school. By the end of this May, if everything goes as planned, I hope to have my masters in conservation biology. I never meant to go beyond a bachelors, but it sort of fell into my lap and I couldn’t turn the opportunity down. While I still have my love of biology, I have unfortunately become somewhat burned out over so many years of education.

    At the moment I don’t have a huge desire to try jumping into some career. I want to travel, do whatever, work whatever jobs, see the world and accumulate some experiences. This may seem odd, to not even want to use some degree I’ve worked so hard for. Or maybe this is my way of subconsciously avoiding the real world for awhile longer. Either way, I have some concerns…some reservations, the only things stopping me from picking up and taking off (I am already an avid backpacker, so I’m not as ill equipped as some probably).

    My concerns are about my responsibilities, mostly financial ones. They actually are what prompted a Google search and how I stumbled upon this website. I have student loan debt, on top of things like vehicle payments, insurance, etc. I’m afraid of traveling and not having or finding a way of making income. I don’t think I can just run out on my debt responsibilities. Do you, or anyone who may be in a similar position, have any advice? Can I travel, see the world, have great life experiences while staying financially responsible to my past?

    Thank you for this blog and the information and experiences you have shared here. I haven’t read through all of it…or even most, but I plan to learn as much as I can.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dusty – Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the site. First, to answer your question, yes, you can travel and get rid of your debt but of course that does require an income of some sorts. However, there are endless opportunities out there to earn decent money, pay your debts and travel at the same time. Working on cruise ships and teaching English in some countries are just two of many such options. It takes some planning but I think you’ll soon discover that creativity and determination are the biggest factors when it comes to succeeding in earning such an income.

      You might want to also check out the blog Manvsdebt.com which has some useful information and advice on the matter as well.

  9. Tati

    Your story shows that sometimes even when we settle, life still happens… I’m sorry about your loss.

    Everything is a “risk”; settling, wandering off, or not taking risks at all… Sometimes we just have to know we are not in control of everything. But we can put ourselves out in the open and always hope for the best!

    I’m also getting out of my job and 15 years of building the “american dream” (“crap”) to wander off… I’m scared a bit but I know that nothing will be as bad as feeling stuck in a society and mentality that does not fit with my line of thinking anymore.
    Is hard explaining this to some friends and family because they’re still too caught up on their ideal of living. But maybe we could show them that “crazy” is not taking risks!

    Wish you and all the wanderers out there the best!

  10. Sherri

    Well here I am reading everything on your website. I stumbled on it, probably like most, while looking for long term rentals in Playa del Carmen or Cozumel or Isla Mujeres or wherever. I am 53 years old and recently widowed. I have done a fair bit of traveling (more than most but not nearly as much as I’d like) and am about to sell off everything I own and take off! My husband died suddenly of a heart attack 3 days after his 50th birthday just last month. I have 3 daughters grown and on their own and for the first time in my life I have no one to take care of or be responsible for but myself. I laid in bed every night for first few weeks crying and wondering what I would do with the “rest” of my life. Then suddenly it dawned on me that I can DO whatever I want! That’s when it hit me. I decided to sell my house and all my worldly possessions (crap) and just go. I decided to start with the Yucatan because I am familiar with it. I have been traveling there since the mid-80’s. I don’t know how long I will stay there and have not made any plans beyond that. I am a little nervous, but know that once I get there it will be like arriving back home only this time I don’t have to leave in a week or two or three. My parents think I have lost my mind but my friends and my kids are cheering me on. I just gave 30 days notice at work today. I’m so glad I found your site as it is ramping up the excitement of actually doing this! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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