If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.
– John D. Rockefeller
Often when I meet fellow travelers and they learn that I have been living out of a backpack for almost two-years, there is an expression of romanticism in the excessive freedom and experiences I’ve had, but there is no big secret to the art of travel. Throughout my time in the various countries I’ve been had the pleasure of calling home, I’ve met travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Vagabonding is not only reserved for the gap year students or post college graduates, as I’ve met middle-aged former career professionals–doctors, lawyers, police officers, engineers, Wall Street brokers–that have either quit their jobs or negotiated sabbaticals for extended time away. I’ve met bar tenders, truck drivers, musicians, soldiers, journalists, and the recently unemployed that are between work and have realized that there is more than the twenty square miles most people live within for their entire lives. Some of the more experienced travelers I’ve met are the seasonal workers–teachers, resort workers, tour operators, fishermen, carpenters–that have the freedom to spend their winters in warmer climates and exotic locations around the globe. I’ve had long conversations with Christian missionaries, Buddhist monks, Muslims, Atheists, and a variety of other religious backgrounds. I’ve had people invite me into their homes to share a meal after brief conversations or even been given a place to sleep. I have more stories than I could possibly recall and feel more blessed in the people that I have come to call lifelong friends. “Wanting to travel reflects a positive attitude. You want to see, to grow in experience, and presumably to become more whole as a human being. Vagabonding takes this a step further: It promotes the chances of sustaining and strengthening this positive attitude. As a vagabond, you begin to face your fears now and then instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience. You build an attitude that makes life more rewarding, which in turn makes it easier to keep doing it. It’s called positive feedback and it works.” This was a quote from Ed Buryn, and I’d have to agree that I have been challenged more in my life and faced more fears head on, because often you have no other choice–it’s sink or swim. As most backpackers would agree, one the most difficult parts of traveling is saying goodbye to the new friends you tend to make on a daily basis. Connecting with people in such a short amount of time and in ways that are almost impossible to convey over a conversation with friends or family back home.
After such a long and tumultuous journey from Vang Vieng to Si Phan Don that was an hour short of traveling continuously for twenty-four-hours, I have taken the first day to catch up on much needed sleep by lounging around in the hammock that sits just outside the door to my bungalow. Swinging from side-to-side, laying there shirtless and barefoot, the engine hums of long tail boats moving up and down the Mekong River tend to wake me from my slumber as I would often fall asleep while reading, and each time this would occur I found myself smiling before dozing back off.