Life as a daring adventure: My plan for the next four years

 

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

I’m almost halfway through my four-month stint in Cork. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be moving to Spain on May 3rd. I haven’t really elaborated much beyond that though, so here’s a post revealing my loose plan for the next four years.

Spain

I’ve decided to try living in Burgos in Spain, a city of 180,000 people in the North of the country. My main reason for moving to Spain is to become fluent in Spanish, so I wanted to live in a city that wouldn’t be full of English-speaking tourists. Burgos sounds like it will fit the bill.

Also, I’ve heard it’s not too hot there in the summertime, which is fine by me. After spending the last three years in New Orleans, I’ll welcome not sweating through my clothes all summer.

In early June I’ll be leaving Spain for a week and taking a trip to the US for some world domination.

Early in September, I’ll leave Spain for good and head back to Ireland for my cousin’s wedding. So yeah, that only gives me four months to become fluent in Spanish. I’m trusting I can pull a Benny and make it work.

Touring Europe

As you may already know, I’m not very well traveled. Spain will be just the fifth country I’ll have visited (after Ireland, England, the USA, and Italy). I plan to have a bunch more stamps on my passport by the end of the year though. After my cousin’s wedding I’ll take off on a whirlwind European tour.

I have no fixed plan on where I want to go yet, but I’ll aim to be in Greece by December and hang out there for a few weeks. It would be nice to spend Christmas on a beach for once :-)

The journey East

My next target after Greece will be India, and I expect I’ll travel there via Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. I’d like to spend at least a couple of months exploring India and Nepal, before traveling further East to check out a few countries like Myanmar and Thailand.

I’ll be heading towards Vietnam. I plan to settle there for four months, arriving no later than July of 2012. I don’t know a hell of a lot about Vietnam, except they once had a war there and it’s full of Asian chicks :-P

China and Japan

I’ll finish my stint in Vietnam in October/November of 2012, then jump over to Hong Kong to see what the story is. I’ll also try to get a glimpse of Shanghai before I move to Japan in time for the new year.

I expect I’ll stay in Japan for four months or so, which would bring me up to May of 2013. I’ll be 31 years old by then.

Towards New Zealand

After I’ve had my fill of Japan, I’ll take my time moving South through the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. I’d like to be in New Zealand by September of 2013, even though I hear they have lousy Internet. I’ll hang around there for a few weeks, going for long walks while I wait for my email to download.

Back to the USA

Late in 2013 I want to return to the USA. I may fly from New Zealand to Mexico first to see if my Spanish still works.

My original plan for my return to the US was to do a big three-month road trip and see all the bits and pieces I missed before, but I realize that winter may not be the best time to do that so I’ll just play it by ear. Regardless of how that bit shakes out, I intend to be back in New Orleans by the end of February 2014 to soak up the Mardi Gras festivities.

Brazil for kicks

Assuming I survive my time in N’Awlins, I’ll then dive down through Central America. My next big stop will be Brazil. The World Cup will be happening there in June and July, so I’d like to arrive in one of the host cities no later than the first week of May and get myself set up with an apartment. Ideally, the city I end up living in will be Rio, since the final game of the Cup will be played there. Should be one hell of a party.

And beyond…

That’s about as far as I’m looking ahead for now. I may end up touring a lot more of South America after the football has finished.

And then there’s that whole African continent to explore. Man, lots of world out there to see.

The why and the how

Above I’ve told you what I want to do for the next four years. The why is pretty simple: I believe travel is an unrivaled growth experience. I crave to explore other countries and cultures, connect with people much different from me, gain a better understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and myself.

Plus, my whole plan sounds completely unrealistic, so naturally I want to give it a shot ;-)

And that brings me to the how. The biggest challenge will be earning enough money from the road to sustain my vagabond lifestyle. Then there will be all the visa regulations and such to figure out, plus language barriers, and the inevitable periods of loneliness. I don’t know how I’ll manage all that, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out somehow. I follow many so-called location independent professionals (or digital nomads, if you prefer) online, people who are out there making their own travel adventures a reality, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have anything I don’t have or can’t learn.

Opportunity cost

I told a friend about my plan last week. She sees many guys my age (28) settling down, starting families, planting roots. She wondered if I’d regret missing out on any of that.

I don’t think too much about what I have to lose by spending four years traveling the world. There’s always an opportunity cost, that’s just the way life works. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything at the same time.

I prefer to instead focus on what I have to gain by embarking on this epic adventure of mine. I keep in mind all the things I’m likely to learn, all the friends I’m likely to meet, all the sights I’m likely to see, all the stories I’ll have to tell.

Plus, I’ll only be 32 years old by the time I complete my full lap of the planet. Lots of life left to live. I’m sure I can go lay down some roots then if the mood strikes me.

Plans can change

I should note here that the plan I set out above is just a plan, and plans can change. It will serve as a rough guide for the next few years of my life, but I’m free to deviate if I find it no longer resonates with me, or if some of the challenges prove too great.

Maybe I’ll be in Greece next Christmas when I get a sudden yearning to see South Africa. If I can’t shake that feeling, I’ll allow myself to go down there. Or maybe I’ll find myself penniless in New Zealand and unable to afford the airfare to Mexico. No worries. I’ll hang with the Kiwis until I can get my funds up.

In fact, I expect I’d end up disappointed if everything on my trip did go according to plan. Where’s the adventure in that?

Living life on your own terms

My mother isn’t a big fan of my plan. She’s been pointing out all the birthdays and holidays I’ll miss while I’m away. Being an Irish Mammy, she would of course prefer I settle down nearby with a nice local girl. I’m sure that wouldn’t be a bad life, and I know many guys my age are aiming for nothing more than that. More power to them.

But it’s not for me. I feel that itch in my soul to get out there on the road and experience the highs and lows of the vagabond lifestyle. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What about you? Are you living life on your own terms, embarking on your own epic adventure? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

If not, now would be a good time to start.

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30 Comments

  1. Niall, this sounds like a perfect plan for me.

    I hope you’ll succed realizing it. I always thought life would be so much meaningful if lived traveling, for all the reason you explained; I never dared to think I could really live this dream and seeing you so positive on planning your own life-travel makes me feel better: I’m 33 and part of me thinks that my occasion is way past my shoulders; but a part of me thinks that it’s never too late, it’s only a matter of deciding which are you priorities. I’m in a moment of revolution in my life and I really am considering what to do next.

    Thanks for sharing your plan!

    • 33 definitely isn’t too late! The next few years will pass anyway, whether you stay home or travel, so it’s just about figuring out what you really want to experience and then go all in to make that a reality.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Hi Niall,

    Just curious how you plan on paying for all of this as you go – are you going to be working in bars and picking up work as you go, or do you hope to have a passive income/setup your business along the way?

    Emmett

    • Well, I do have an ideal, and that’s to make money mainly through the online course and other helpful guides/products I’ll release through this site. I also hope to earn a bit through consulting and affiliate marketing, and perhaps the odd bit of web design.

      Like I said, I see many other people supporting their mobile lifestyle by similar means, and I figure I can do the same if I just work hard and smart at it. I’ll be sure to share what does and doesn’t work for me on the blog here.

  3. Hey, it seems you fear Seville’s summer weather, don’t you?

    Burgos is a little small…maybe Valladolid would be a better option (IMHO): it’s bigger but not a big city (half a million, aprox) and you’d have more cultural activities. Anyway, expect a lot of pilgrims in summer there (one of the routes of the “Camino de Santiago” goes through Burgos), so that would be interesting (I mean meeting pilgrims but also walking the “Camino”). And yeah, even in summer nights are cold there, so a sweater is always a good option ;)

    Good luck in the town of The Cid!!!

    • Thanks for the comment, Álvaro.

      I hadn’t heard much about Valladolid, so I appreciate for the heads up. I expect I’ll stay in a hostel or maybe Couchsurf for my first week or two in Burgos, so I can suss it out and see if I want to settle there for a few months. If I’m not feeling it, I may give Valladolid a try instead.

      And yeah, I’ve heard a bit about the Camino de Santiago in recent months. A friend of mine did half of that trek before. Sounds very cool.

  4. Niall…hmmm, it’s funny you don’t have Canada on your list of travels. It’s one of the world’s best kept secrets…very diverse, beautiful scenery, amazing contrast in weather, culture and scenery. When you visit the States, try a trip to “The Great White North”…our summers are warm and beautiful.

    It’s my invite and if I’m in town when you come…we can hook up.

    Enjoy your journey…look forward to watching your story unfold.

    • Actually, I do really want to see Vancouver. I’ve heard great things. I wouldn’t mind living there for a while, but perhaps it would be better not to do that in winter. When I eventually do my US road trip I imagine I’ll veer off into Canada a few times to explore.

  5. I just started following your blog, I think it’s great, far too many people (me included) just sit around thinking of the life they could be living, instead of going for it.

    Also finally understood that quote about our greatest fear not being powerlessness, but infinite power.

    I’m going to Australia this monday, I’m fairly apprehensive (I’m only 18) but I reckon the potential benefits far outweigh the potential negative outcomes and I think that counts as embarking on an epic adventure!

    • Thanks for the comment, Jack.

      All the best with the move to Australia. I think you’re right about potential benefits vs. negative outcomes. We can’t let imagined worst case scenarios hold us back.

      Let me know how the epic adventure goes!

  6. “I feel that itch in my soul to get out there on the road and experience the highs and lows of the vagabond lifestyle”.

    And so you shall.

    And it will be as it is.

    And you will live in the Now moment of each day.

    And all shall happen as it happens.

    Safe Travels!

  7. Niall, could you tell why you hed towards Vietnam rather than other ASEAN countries? Just because it’s the most known country of the region in USA? Or it’s intuitive?

    For me it’s an average country while its neighbours like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia are truly pearls.

    Wish you discover the best choice!

    • It’s more intuitive. Lots of people have told me that Thailand and other countries nearby are better, but I just fell like Vietnam is where I should go. Maybe that will change along the way. I’ll keep my options open ;-)

  8. Hey,

    Cool plans. But as you yourself mentioned, plans go out the window as soon as you hit the road.

    If I were you I wouldn’t commit money (buying loads of long distance flights) to plans so far in the future.

    Keep your options open and let the road guide you.

    • Thanks for the comment, Neill. And don’t worry, I won’t be buying any long-distance flights in advance. I have bought my plane ticket to Spain already, but that was cheap. I plan to travel by land as far as China so I won’t be committing to any definite plan of action for a while.

  9. Niall. Just curious. Why travel? Where does the passion come from? What are you hoping to ‘gain’? I say this as someone who’s traveled quite a bit and is in the midst of planning a big trip to India. I’m interested in your motivations.

  10. Hey Clare. Good question!

    I believe the passion comes from my experience in the US and my trip to Italy last summer. I really enjoyed immersing myself in those different cultures. I’ve discovered that I quite like shaking things up and putting myself in new and unusual situations. I learn a lot about myself and the world by doing that. Excessive routine kills me. So by traveling I’m hoping to gain more adventure, more knowledge, more memories.

    Why do you travel?

  11. Good answer. I travel for different reasons at different times. I love exploring, learning and trying to understand the wonderful weirdness that makes up the world and travel is a great way to do that. It’s a great way to meet interesting people.

    I love the feeling of being in motion too. Of watching the world go by out a train window.

    And sometimes, it’s nice to get away from ‘normal life’ (is there such a thing?!) and get some perspective. Travel refreshes me and points me in the direction of my next adventure.

    Much of my travel in the past has been work related. I’ve worked in Washington DC for extended periods, and am planning to go to India for work in May. I find working someplace new to be a great way of really getting to the heart of a city.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  12. I’ll be 27 in May and although I haven’t lived as much as I’d like, I think I have done pretty well so far considering. So far just in the last 6 years I have seen many places in California, Texas and North Carolina. In my entire life I have been to other places as well. I hope to someday get to see Japan but unsure of my future rough plans. I take life day by day and try to keep positive. One of my goals is to make a living through the internet so that I am free to travel more than I do now. It is very difficult to travel and work a normal job lol. I am glad I came across you blog (btw StumbleUpon sent me). I wish you all the best, just make sure you do plenty of research on your destinations before leaving for them.

  13. Hey, I know how that family works. They just want you to stay and marry a nice girl within your culture. But that’s not for me either. Obviously, I’d like to go on a trip but I feel that the timing isn’t right; my selfish thing is that I’d like to meet people at each city I go to, so I’m still writing to people around the world first.

    Anyways, let me know when you’re around San Francisco in 2013/2014 :P

    • Will do, Matt!

      As regards meeting people in each city, have you ever done Couchsurfing? Instant community wherever you go. Here in Spain, a Couchsurfer met me at the bus station and the next night I moved into a spare room in her sister’s apartment. They made it so easy for me to get settled.

      Thanks for the comment :-)

      • Thanks for reminding me about Couchsurfing. That’s a great idea too! But I’ve written some people for a year or so (one friend for maybe 4 years now!) and to go in there with all of that depth in a friendship already would be special.

        However, if I want to go to a city without anyone I know there, Couchsurfing can definitely work. And if desperate, Airbnb if you have spare cash.

        Or other free suggestions. The public library (sleep during the day) or the airport (noisy sometimes but yeah).

  14. Great adventure plans, though not firm. I truly feel you should come to Samoa. I wish you could come over here, its only a few hours from Auckland. Anyway, we’ll see where life takes you and Im sure anywhere you go will be very exciting. wish you all the peace and joy of the universe.