31 Things I Learned From 31 Months Of Nonstop Travel
Today I’ll receive the keys to a huge two bedroom condo just minutes from the beach in Carlsbad, CA. I’m moving in with this woman who I love very much.
Which means my location independent adventure is coming to a close.
Since selling, throwing away, or donating almost everything that I owned in February 29, 2012, I’ve had the most amazing magic carpet ride of life experiences for the past 31 months.
I spent three months traveling across the United States doing volunteer work with my brother David with our passion project A Summer To Serve.
I miraculously managed to grow my coaching business and even throw a conference for over 100 men while traveling through over a dozen countries, sometimes for up to a month at a time. Yo, Thailand is bananas.
And I’ve gotten to study with, hang out with, and even LIVE WITH some of the world’s greatest teachers of sexuality, spirituality, marketing, entrepreneurship, public speaking, copywriting, mindset, and health.
I’ve been on a living spree.
It’s with mixed feelings that I write this post, since I’m simultaneously experiencing the death of one amazing life and the birth of another.
Travel has given me everything I’ve ever wanted and then some.
There are so many more life lessons that I could write about, but here are the most important 31 Things I’ve Learned From 31 Months Of Nonstop Travel.
1. Most Human Beings Are The Same
Over the past 31 months I’ve shared a living space with over a hundred different human beings. And for the most part, we are all the same.
People all over the world are just people.
We all eat. We all poop. We all celebrate.
We all do something to create value in the world. We all want to have the best for our families. We all do things to have fun.
We are all the same. Every human is an equal.
Infinite potential to love and create in every single one of us.
And when we start to forget that, that’s when people start dying in large numbers.
2. Everything Works Out Perfectly
There were days on the road where I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or what I was going to do the next day, but every time something worked out.
Over time I’ve gotten more and more bold with traveling without a plan and it feels like it’s gotten better over time.
When I was in my twenties, I was a meticulous planner. My vacations were planned without an hour of unplanned time.
Then I learned through experience that I could just show up and everything would work out perfectly.
In fact, oftentimes things work out even better than had you planned them.
You can’t plan for magic.
3. If You Know What You’re Doing, Travel Is Free
Here’s a little secret…
I’ve been living like a millionaire for the past several years on a budget of around $30,000 a year.
That’s it. Seriously.
I never pay for flights since Chris Guillebeau taught me how to travel hack.
I never pay for lodging since a lot of people love me and they enjoy having me stay with them in their homes.
So the only costs of travel for me have been trains, subways, buses, and the occasional flight in between cities in foreign countries.
I’ve been living all over the world for about what it was costing me to rent my one bedroom apartment in New Jersey before I sold everything.
Travel is not expensive. You’re just choosing to pay for things that you don’t have to.
4. Goodbyes Are Part Of The Human Experience
I’ve said goodbye to someone I love several hundred times over the past three years.
Goodbyes at conferences, goodbyes at Burning Man, and goodbyes at airports.
Goodbyes to lovers, goodbyes to parents, and goodbyes to strangers who I’ve poured my heart out to in workshops.
At first it was really difficult. I used to miss everyone so much after we parted ways.
Then I realized that they are always with me in spirit. Whether or not they are still here in their physical form.
We all have to say goodbye at some point.
5. Gurus, Experts, Bestselling Authors, And Millionaires Aren’t That Special
I’ve stayed with some pretty amazing people over the past 31 months.
They’ve written the books that you’ve read. They’ve created the programs and workshops that have changed your life. And they’ve given the speeches that have forever altered the way that you look at your existence.
To this day I sometimes look at the circle that I keep and I think, “How the hell did this happen?”
Yes, I’m extremely fortunate.
But I’ve also learned that none of these people are really all that special.
They have bad habits. They don’t have everything in order. They curse, fart, stress out, and sometimes drink too much.
And they all look like hell in the morning.
But that’s because they are human, just like you.
One of the greatest gifts that I’ve gotten from some of the highest performing people in the world is seeing the behind the scenes into their lives which has given me the permission to do the same.
And that’s what I try to do for you every time I open up the door and give you a glimpse into my life.
I want you to know that I’m not that special either.
6. You Don’t Need To Do What Everyone Else Is Doing
When I first started traveling I thought I always had to do what the group was doing. Which meant sometimes going to bars and clubs that I didn’t really enjoy or watching my friends spend money at the local mall.
The more that I traveled though, the more I started doing what I actually wanted to do.
So sometimes when my friends invite me out to dinner with them I say Yes. And sometimes I say No.
Just because you’re traveling with someone or staying at their house doesn’t mean you have to do everything together.
In fact, oftentimes the time apart is much needed and a breath of fresh air before you hit the next stop on your adventures.
7. Always Give Your Hosts The Option Of Saying No
Anytime I email a friend to ask if I can stay with them for sometimes a day or sometimes I week, I always add this magical phrase:
“If not, then no worries.”
I always adamantly let my friends know that they don’t have to say Yes and that they can kick me out at any time. I almost encourage it.
Having someone open up their home for you is an extremely kind gesture. Sheets need to be washed, schedules need to be cleared, and food has to be purchased.
If you’re one of the dozens of hosts I’ve stayed with over the past 31 months, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that you let me into your life like that.
And always know that you can say No at any time when I ask. Or when anybody asks for that matter.
8. It’s OK To Let People Love On You
One of my greatest lessons from travel has been learning how to be open to receiving.
When I first started traveling I felt so guilty about letting people host me or cook me dinner. Which is funny because I regularly hosted people at my apartment in New Jersey and I even let my three best friends live with me for free when I bought my first house in Arizona.
I don’t know if you’re the same way, but I absolutely love hosting people over my house for dinner or a sleepover.
Then why did I feel so guilty when people offered the same for me?
Because most of us are poor receivers.
We don’t think we are worthy or deserving of being loved on now that we are adults.
We think that we have to do it all on our own now that we aren’t kids anymore. And when someone tries to do something nice for us, we shrug it off for no reason.
Do you have trouble receiving? Just travel for a couple of months and you’ll get that knocked out of you in no time.
9. The Journey Begins When You Buy The Ticket
I’ve seen this happen time after time.
Someone buys a ticket to either Thailand or Burning Man or World Domination Summit and all of a sudden, everything in their life starts to shift.
Even weeks before the trip they will start living a little more adventurously or start losing weight unexpectedly. Why?
Because they made a commitment.
You can talk about traveling, do research online, interview your friends who’ve done it, and even save money for it.
But the journey begins when you buy the ticket.
10. The Best Things In Life Happen In Person
I’ve built a business that has directly impacted hundreds of men and touched thousands of people all over the world in the time that it takes some people to get a website designed.
When I look at what has propelled my life into the fast lane more than anything, it’s this one fact.
I’m out in the world a lot.
You can find me at World Domination Summit, AwesomenessFest, SXSW, Burning Man, The Instigator Experience, book tours, workshops, potlucks, and anywhere else where “my people” congregate.
And I don’t just attend events, I regularly create them.
I’ve facilitated workshops all over the country. I’ve hosted dozens of meetups for entrepreneurs all over the world, some of which have gotten over a hundred people to show up to a random bar on a Tuesday night.
And I’ve made grilled cheese sandwiches and helped my friends’ kids with their homework.
Get out of your house immediately.
Unless you don’t want any more clients, friends, mentors, or potential business partners.
11. The World Is Your Playground, Gymnasium, And Dance Floor
When I first started traveling I gained a little weight. Without regular access to a gym, I started to get a little soft.
Then I realized that the entire world is a big playground for me to do exercises on.
When I’m in New York City, I do pullups on the scaffolding all over Manhattan. When a friend has some kettlebells or any kind of dumbbells, I do a full body workout. When I see a nice stretch of sand or grass, I do some sprints.
All you need to do to stay in shape is move a lot and lift heavy stuff.
And you don’t need a gym to do that.
12. Any Bed Is A Good Bed
In the course of 24 hours this past June, Liz and I went from staying at a four star resort in Sedona to a spare bedroom in a house full of college students in Tucson.
And they were both great places to stay.
When you don’t own any furniture, any bed is a good bed.
And I’ve slept in everything from the finest sheets and pillows to the grimiest couches and sofas.
I’m thankful for all the nights that I didn’t sleep in the nicest surroundings. It’s going to make my king sized memory foam mattress all that more comfortable.
13. You Won’t Die From Sleeping On The Ground
And speaking of beds, I’ve learned that sleeping without a bed doesn’t kill you. It’s actually kind of fun.
The day after The Conference For Men, I spent the night at Zana’s house on the floor in a sleeping bag next to Max. Even though I had just wrapped up the most important event of my life and changed the lives of over a hundred men, I was happily sleeping on the floor next to one of my buddies like a little kid at a sleepover.
The thing that keeps most people from making it to where they want to go is their very little tolerance for pain and uncertainty.
Sleeping on the floor takes that out of you a little.
14. The Best Place To Find Yourself Is In Nature
We live in a world of many distractions.
Do you want to find your life’s purpose?
Then go hang out in nature for a while and leave your cell phone at home.
I’ve had some of the best ideas come to me while watching sunsets or hiking through forests.
The more I learn about life, the more my body craves the outdoors. The grass under my bare feet, the sun in my face, and the roar of the ocean.
There’s a feeling that I get in my body when I’m outdoors that is unlike anything else.
It feels like freedom.
15. Bring Food Wherever You Go
Whether you’re traveling the world or commuting to world every day, you should always have some food stashed away just in case.
I’ve learned to always have some protein bars, brazil nuts, or dried fruit in my backpack.
Because when you make a habit of saying Yes to life, you don’t always have time to run to the store first.
16. Buy A Laundry Bag
Buy a simple laundry bag to keep your clean clothes separate from your dirty clothes.
Liz bought this one after her first month on the road with me. It changed her life.
17. Use A Blanket Or A Sheet As A Makeshift Laundry Basket
Why are there two lessons just on laundry?
Because doing laundry on the road is a whole new experience.
Ask any long-term traveler and you’ll find them full of all sorts of home hacks and workarounds to getting their everyday necessities taken care of.
A couple years ago I needed to carry a load of laundry from the dryer to the apartment I was staying at. The only thing that worked to carry all of my clothes was a sheet.
And a disruptive innovation in the laundry basket space was created.
One of the fun parts about travel is making things work out of nothing. This skill has directly translated into all areas of my life as I often make things work out of nothing.
18. Don’t Stop Taking Pictures
When I first started traveling, I took pictures of everything.
Then I went through a phase where I slowed down to almost nothing.
Do you know the main reason why?
I was actually a little guilty of how awesome my life had gotten and I didn’t want to make people think I was bragging.
What a silly reason to stop taking snapshots of my life that I could look back on in ten or twenty years.
Now I take pictures of almost everything. Most of them I don’t even publish.
But now I have the memories forever to look back upon any time I want.
19. Being A World Traveler Is A Sexy Identity That Leads To More Sex
When I would meet women at conferences, workshops, or nightclubs and they asked me what I did, the responses ranged from: “Oh, I’m just driving across the country doing volunteer work all over the United States this summer” to “I’ve been traveling the world nonstop since February 2012 just doing stuff that makes me happy.”
As the words “traveling the world” left my lips I would see her eyes get bigger, I’d see the blood rush into her cheeks, and I’d feel the feeling of turn-on in her body.
If you’re into having sex, then have something sexy to talk about.
If you don’t have anything sexy to talk about, then start doing some sexy stuff immediately.
Becoming sexy is just a choice.
And let me tell you, travel is sexy as fuck.
20. Substance Abuse Can Easily Get Out Of Control On The Road
I spent a month partying across the United States and Europe to celebrate one of my best friend’s 40th birthdays last year.
I literally drank every night for a month.
Without the structure of a job and no place to be it’s pretty easy for life to turn into a nonstop party.
Being an epic partier was something that helped open a lot of doors for me early on. I’d find myself having shots with people who I had previously only seen on Tim Ferriss’s blog or on Forbes.com.
But I definitely lost my balance early on and it took a couple of years to find my way back into harmony with drugs and alcohol.
Nothing is inherently “good” or “bad.”
But how good do you want to feel when you wake up every morning?
21. Your Best Friend Only Turns 40 Once
I’ve said Yes to a lot of crazy stuff over the past 31 months.
That trip in March and April of 2013 was one of them.
But I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. And either will Dan.
22. You Don’t Need A Majority Of Your Stuff
I will be forever grateful that I made the decision to get rid of all of my stuff when I did. I’m also extremely grateful that Liz did that earlier this year.
Because something that you learn while living on the road is that you really don’t need most of the stuff that you own.
In fact, some would even say that it owns you.
We are moving into our new condo today and nearly everything that we own fits in our cars. We ordered our bed on Amazon and that’s all we are going to buy for a while.
We aren’t in a rush to fill our place up with stuff. And we’re going to enjoy the open space while slowly and mindfully bringing items into our home.
Everything in your house right now is taking up space, both physical and mental.
How much of your stuff is actually still providing value in your life? And how much of it are you clinging onto because you’re afraid to let go of the past?
Remember what I said up above at #4?
We all have to say goodbye at some point.
23. Mansions Are Just Another Place To Sleep
I’ve lived in several mansions over the past couple of years. Absolute dream homes.
In fact, we even hosted a retreat in one.
And I’m so grateful to have the experience of living in a mansion to realize that it’s not for me. At least not right now.
As much as I loved the feeling of waking up in a house that could easily sleep 20, after a couple of nights it was just another place to sleep.
So I’m glad I got to test drive a mansion early on in life to know that I actually prefer a space that’s a little bit smaller and closer to beautiful scenery and beautiful people.
And to me, the idea of living in a mansion doesn’t feel like freedom.
It feels a little more like a trap.
24. The United States Is Full Of So Much Diversity And Beauty
The United States has blown me away.
The variety of food and culture across our 50 states. The natural beauty of our national parks.
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming are like driving through a postcard.
Some of my most special moments were in random towns in the middle of nowhere. The life there is simple, the people are beyond friendly, and the food is delicious.
I plan on driving across the country several more times in the future. There are hidden gems all over this country and a richness that changes from state to state.
And you don’t even need a passport.
25. Living With Someone Is An Intimate And Special Way To Get To Know Them
I’m typing this from Amy Porterfield’s dining room table. She’s easily one of the sweetest people I’ve met in the past year.
She also one of the most well-known experts in Facebook Marketing. And Liz and I just had a sleepover at her house!
Something special happens when you make breakfast together in the morning or go to the grocery store together. You become family.
My family by blood is small. But I’ve been growing my family by choice like crazy over the past 31 months.
And just because I have a home now doesn’t mean I won’t stop having sleepovers.
26. Get Grounded Through Your Rituals
Ask any traveler what their biggest complaint is and oftentimes is the feeling of not being grounded. When I first started, I felt like I was all over the place.
Then I learned that if I have the right rituals in place, I can feel “at home” anywhere I go.
Having the same breakfast every morning has helped.
Playing the gratitude game in bed with Liz before we go to sleep has helped.
And listening to certain music while I write or doing the same yoga practice has helped as well.
Whether it’s a meditation practice, a journaling practice, or calling a friend every morning to start your day, having something that’s consistent in your life will help you to have that feeling of groundedness to carry you throughout the day.
27. It’s Nearly Impossible To Work And Travel At The Same Time
You can build and scale an impressive business. Or you can build some impressive photo albums and scale some impressive mountains.
Life on the road means you’re constantly living in the flow of the moment.
Sometimes I don’t have internet access. Sometimes I have to take phone calls in the bathroom.
I once took a coaching call in the back of an RV on the way to Burning Man.
Very, very few entrepreneurs can build a business while traveling. There’s just so much uncertainty that makes scheduling regular meetings or checking in with employees that much more difficult.
Several of my friends have done it, but it always comes at a cost.
I’m really looking forward to having a strong foundation to build something substantial over the next year.
28. Having A Home Base Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Get To Travel Anymore
Just because I just signed a one year lease doesn’t mean I have to hand my passport in.
I’m a big fan of having your cake and eating it too.
Getting married doesn’t mean you can’t travel anymore.
Signing a lease, buying furniture, and having a mailing address doesn’t mean you can’t travel anymore.
I like to look at any choice and instead of asking WHICH of these two can I have, I like to ask if I can have BOTH.
So in this case, I can have a home base AND still have a life full of travel and adventure.
I just get to go home in between trips again.
29. Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
I got to celebrate with Chris Guillebeau in Norway as he became one of the few people alive to visit every single country in the world.
If I compare myself to Chris, I haven’t even scratched the surface of travel.
But why would I do that?
You can read articles about people who have been traveling the world and feel bad about yourself.
Or you can just buy a ticket and start your own journey in whatever way feels the most true to you.
Making comparisons is a big waste of time.
30. Travel Is Life’s Greatest Classroom
I lived in my hometown of Tucson, AZ for the first 27 years of my life.
And I’ve learned more about life in the past 31 months than I did in the first 31 years of my life.
Travel teaches you some of life’s greatest lessons.
- Be present.
- Let go.
- Take the leap.
- Step outside your comfort zone.
- Try something new.
- Drink more tequila.
I think the greatest gift that travel has given me though is that of Openness.
Everywhere I go, I just see people.
I see myself in the eyes of whoever is looking back at me.
And that’s something that you just can’t learn in a classroom.
31. Read Less, Do More
Wow! You made it all the way to #31.
Thank you so much. It’s an honor that you’ve read these 4000+ words that I just put out into the world. Reading the words of a few adventurous souls has completely changed my perspective on life.
But what I really want for you the most is for you to actually DO something with your one wild and precious life.
I want you to artfully live your life in a way that inspires me to grow and stretch even more.
I want to be reading your story next year while I sit in my condo in Carlsbad.
I want you to create a life story worth writing about.
And you’re not going to read your way into it. You’re going to do it.
Yes, we have to all say goodbye at some point.
Don’t say your last goodbye with any regrets.
The journey begins when you buy the ticket.
PS – If this article touched you in any way, I’d love it if you shared it on social media with your favorite life lesson as the caption.