Why we should travel young – by Jeff Goins.

Hello!

I know, long time, no see, right? Yeah, I have been lagging. But hey, give me a break, I moved to California in July and since then it’s all been absolutely crazy! I mean, school started and it is really hard, let me tell you.

But my fingers have been itching and I need to write here. So I found this blog post by this cool guy named Jeff Goins, and I thought I should post it here so 1) all of you know that I am still alive and well and I intend to write here more often, because I still have a lot to tell. and 2) This article, or blog post, or whatever you wanna call it, is pretty amazing and I could relate to it so much, thought it’d be nice to share with everyone. 

I didn’t write this, I simply got it from this site: http://convergemagazine.com/travel-young-5278/

So here it goes. 

 

As I write this, I’m flying. It’s an incredible concept: to be suspended in the air, moving at two hundred miles an hour — while I read a magazine. Amazing, isn’t it?

I woke up at three a.m. this morning. Long before the sun rose, thirty people loaded up three conversion vans and drove two hours to the San Juan airport. Our trip was finished. It was time to go home. But we were changed.

As I sit, waiting for the flight attendant to bring my ginger ale, I’m left wondering why I travel at all. The other night, I was reminded why I do it — why I believe this discipline of travel is worth all the hassle.

I was leading a missions trip in Puerto Rico. After a day of work, as we were driving back to the church where we were staying, one of the young women brought up a question.

“Do you think I should go to graduate school or move to Africa?”

I don’t think she was talking to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t. But that didn’t stop me from offering my opinion.

I told her to travel. Hands down. No excuses. Just go.

She sighed, nodding. “Yeah, but…”

I had heard this excuse before, and I didn’t buy it. I knew the “yeah-but” intimately. I had uttered it many times before. The words seem innocuous enough, but are actually quite fatal.

Yeah, but …

… what about debt?

 

… what about my job?

… what about my boyfriend?

This phrase is lethal. It makes it sound like we have the best of intentions, when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards while sounding noble.

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did it. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job still did those things after they traveled.

It reminded me of Dr. Eisenhautz and the men’s locker room.

Dr. Eisenhautz was a German professor at my college. I didn’t study German, but I was a foreign language student so we knew each other. This explains why he felt the need to strike up a conversation with me at six o’clock one morning.

I was about to start working out, and he had just finished. We were both getting dressed in the locker room. It was, to say the least, a little awkward — two grown men shooting the breeze while taking off their clothes.

“You come here often?” he asked. I could have laughed.

“Um, yeah, I guess,” I said, still wiping the crusted pieces of whatever out of my eyes.

“That’s great,” he said. “Just great.”

I nodded, not really paying attention. He had already had his adrenaline shot; I was still waiting for mine. I somehow uttered that a friend and I had been coming to the gym for a few weeks now, about three times a week.

“Great,” Dr. Eisenhautz repeated. He paused as if to reflect on what he would say next. Then, he just blurted it out. The most profound thing I had heard in my life.

“The habits you form here will be with you for the rest of your life.”

Photos by Geoff Heith

My head jerked up, my eyes got big, and I stared at him, letting the words soak into my half-conscious mind. He nodded, said a gruff goodbye, and left. I was dumbfounded.

The words reverberated in my mind for the rest of the day. Years later, they still haunt me. It’s true — the habits you form early in life will, most likely, be with you for the rest of your existence.

I have seen this fact proven repeatedly. My friends who drank a lot in college drink in larger quantities today. Back then, we called it “partying.” Now, it has a less glamorous name: alcoholism. There are other examples. The guys and girls who slept around back then now have babies and unfaithful marriages. Those with no ambition then are still working the same dead end jobs.

“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle once said. While I don’t want to sound all gloom-and-doom, and I believe your life can turn around at any moment, there is an important lesson here: life is a result of intentional habits. So I decided to do the things that were most important to me first, not last.

After graduating college, I joined a band and traveled across North America for nine months. With six of my peers, I performed at schools, churches, and prisons. We even spent a month in Taiwan on our overseas tour. (We were huge in Taiwan.)

As part of our low-cost travel budget, we usually stayed in people’s homes. Over dinner or in conversation later in the evening, it would almost always come up — the statement I dreaded. As we were conversing about life on the road — the challenges of long days, being cooped up in a van, and always being on the move — some well-intentioned adult would say, “It’s great that you’re doing this … while you’re still young.”

Ouch. Those last words — while you’re still young — stung like a squirt of lemon juice in the eye (a sensation with which I am well acquainted). They reeked of vicarious longing and mid-life regret. I hated hearing that phrase.

I wanted to shout back,

“No, this is NOT great while I’m still young! It’s great for the rest of my life! You don’t understand. This is not just a thing I’m doing to kill time. This is my calling! My life! I don’t want what you have. I will always be an adventurer.”

In a year, I will turn thirty. Now I realize how wrong I was. Regardless of the intent of those words, there was wisdom in them.

As we get older, life can just sort of happen to us. Whatever we end up doing, we often end up with more responsibilities, more burdens, more obligations. This is not always bad. In fact, in many cases it is really good. It means you’re influencing people, leaving a legacy.

Youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important. The best way to do that is to make investments in your life so that you can have an effect on who you are in your later years.

I did this by traveling. Not for the sake of being a tourist, but to discover the beauty of life — to remember that I am not complete.

There is nothing like riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge or seeing the Coliseum at sunset. I wish I could paint a picture for you of how incredible the Guatemalan mountains are or what a rush it is to appear on Italian TV. Even the amazing photographs I have of Niagara Falls and the American Midwest countryside do not do these experiences justice. I can’t tell you how beautiful southern Spain is from the vantage point of a train; you have to experience it yourself. The only way you can relate is by seeing them.

While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Appalachian trail. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.

Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day.

While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel, young person. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion. While you still can.

Do not squander this time. You will never have it again. You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely.

And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.

That’s what it did for me, anyway.

 

 

 

 

Couch Surfing – ”The World is smaller than you think”

I just came back from a bar here in my city, called Cana Benta. I went with my two cousins (Ana and Lucas, who are more like my siblings) and this German girl who is staying at my house through Couch Surfing and a girl called Fernanda, who is also a member of the Couch Surfing community in Curitiba. It was fun because Fernanda is very active with Couch Surfing and so am I (although not as much as she is) and both my cousins have ”used” or met people from CS before.

What is Couch Surfing, you ask!?
Well, it’s a large corporation that offers its users hospitality exchange and social networking (CS Wikipedia) . Basically this is what CS is: You like to travel. You like to meet people. You’re a student, or maybe you don’t have a lot of money to spend on hotels or hostels….that’s where CS enters. You can create a profile at the site and when you are planning on traveling somewhere, you search for a few profiles from the city you’re going to stay at and message a few people asking if you could maybe ”crash” or, surf on their couch for a few nights while you are in town. Or, even, maybe you already know someone at the city and have a place to stay, but wanna meet new people. You can also ask if someone is available to have some coffee, show you some cool places in the town, or just go out to hang out and chat about the country/city/people/language etc.
It works both ways. You may also host people at your house, offer them a couch. It’s FREE. But that is NOT the cool part. Once you start surfing couches and hosting people at your house, you realize that it’s all about knowing places and stories about the World. It’s about getting to know parts of the world through some fun stories and pictures. It’s about being a nice person and understanding people who are wandering, traveling… It’s actually pretty amazing. Maybe one of the coolest things we have nowadays.
On your profile at http://www.couchsurfing.com you can specificate what kind of people you would be able to host at your house, by gender, number of surfers, age… And when you are asking someone if YOU can stay at their house, you need to send a nice message to let them know what you’re doing in town, who you are exactly etc.

Some people are a bit afraid because it seems like an unsafe kind of website, I mean ”who’d be crazy to let some stranger into your house?” and I get that, but here are some facts you need to know about CS:

  • Once you are serious about hosting and surfing you should probably get your account verified. In order to do that, you will go to a part of the CS website that says ”get verified” then you will enter some personal info, like your current address and wait for them to send you a post card in the mail. Once you receive this post card, you will see there is a code. You will enter that code on the Couch Surfing website and there, you have confirmed that you actually live at the address you said you live.
  • If you are looking for couches to surf when traveling, look for references at the person’s profile. A person can have positive, negative or neutral references. The more references, the safer it is to stay at that house.
  • Write references so you can have people write references about YOU. That will make you a ”safe” person too.
  • CS deletes profiles with suspicious references, that is, references that alert that that place is not a good deal. It is a safe site, but remember that everywhere in the World, there are people with bad intentions.

And more: if you will be hosting someone, be a nice host. You do not need to take your surfer anywhere if you don’t want to, or don’t have time to, but make sure he/she won’t get lost. It’s all new to them, bus, taxi, train…
Same thing with food. If you are eating, it might not be that bad to invite your surfer to eat with you. Make him/her feel comfortable and at home. Making sure they have a good experience is up to you and remember, that’s what they will talk about your city/country. ;)
They are travelers. But you are, too, when you host. Ask them where they’re from, what their habits are, what they like to do for fun, the differences between cultures.

If you are traveling, the best advice I can give is: have common sense and be polite. Don’t EXPECT your host to buy you food. Don’t EXPECT your host to take you places. Don’t EXPECT your host to do anything. The host will probably do their best to accommodate you the best they can, but sometimes they have jobs, busy schedules, school and other things that will make a bit hard to pay attention to you 100% of the time. Ask him questions about the city, maps, directions, tips about restaurants and sight-seeing, but if they cannot go with you, be comprehensive.
It’s not your responsibility to buy them food, but if you can cook, it’d be nice to make them some typical food from where you are from. Or take them out to dinner. It’s just a nice gesture, to say ”thank you for having me over”.

I will in the next posts, tell stories about my experience with CS. I have surfed once and hosted many times, gone out for coffee and sigh seeing a whole bunch of times. So I have stories to tell. I’ve met amazing people from a lot of places: Arizona, Oregon, Ohio, Australia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Germany, China, some states in Brazil….

The mission of the Couch Surfing community is to make people from all over the globe, be closer. Like I have said before, we might feel like we are part of a gigantic planet where no one knows nothing and no one but WE can make distance shorter.