What It’s Like To Drop Everything And Travel The World, Part 1

Nearly a month ago, I dropped everything I had in Canada and became a digital nomad. I took a suitcase, a backpack, and flew to Vietnam. So I decided to write a 5000 word multi-post about my experience thus far.

In this three-part post, I’ll discuss the lead up to the trip, some challenges I’ve faced, and then focus specifically on my first week in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Part 1 will be the lead up to the trip and pre-Vietnam travels.
  • Part 2 will be the culture and lifestyle I have seen thus far in Vietnam (VISAs, food, dating, people, scams, etc.). Part 2 is here.
  • Part 3 will be about my personal growth in a month and what I have learned about myself. Part 3 is here.

Parts 1 and 3 will probably be more for your entertainment and following me through my journey. Part 2 contains more information-based stuff if you’re thinking about coming here or just want some insight into living in a foreign country.

Lead Up And Prep

THANKFULLY I learned from my two and a half month trip across Europe, and spent a lot less time prepping. I’m sure this was because I was experienced in travelling at this point, but also because I knew besides the mental prep, there wasn’t much to do… Move home, pack up a suitcase, and go.

The mental component was extremely tough though. I would go from days of being ecstatic and excited at the opportunity I had (like saving over $1,000 and being able to afford my freakin’ plane ticket), to so anxious and distressed I couldn’t silence my mind. How could I predict what would happen – there were too many unknowns! All I could do was go and see, just like anything you are afraid of – you have to go and do it and see what happens.

Saying Goodbyes

Saying goodbye to my friends sucked. With so many things happening at once, including the huge move overseas, having to move back to my home city, Ottawa, from Toronto first, and trying to get some apartment hunting going… my brain was overwhelmed and could hardly process anything except what was dire and needed in the moment.

On one of the last nights in Toronto my friends and I were playing some video games and I just felt sad… Just extremely sad. I was beating myself up thinking I should just feel good and try to spend as much time as I could with them in any aspect, but all I could feel was fear and sadness.

This was mainly caused by me knowing that a major relationship was about to end. For my friends, I knew I’d see them again soon. Most of them planning on coming to Asia, there was always Skype, and friendships just transcend distance (at least with this group of friends).

But for a romantic relationship ending, I was a wreck. It was one of the best things that had happened to me in a while. And though I knew Vietnam, travelling, adventure, and my businesses were more important… I, as well as the woman, felt that things were ending too soon. What we had was so good and was ending so abruptly.

But I had booked my ticket, and knew that though it hurt, it would end with either me moving across the world, or her going back home across the country in a few months.

Because of the way we were, even the last day we spent together we couldn’t really be sad until the last few hours. We just made each other so happy that it was impossible to think about things ending. But we knew time was ticking and it had to end.

It was the first time I felt like, while I would always want to date the girl again, that I really wanted to remain close friends with her because I cared for her so much and loved her personality.

We agreed to a month of letting our emotions die down, and then afterwards, to see what would happen.

Packing And Leaving Home

While my family had invited me out before, I had started to get sick (probably from stress and so many things happening at once) that after the break up all I wanted to do was be alone. I felt sad and exhausted even before my trip had begun.

Not a good sign.

So most of the packing took place the day of my flight, right up to the minute I had to leave for the airport figuring out what I’d need to bring.

I had no idea when I’d be back, honestly… and I still don’t. It could be a week if things really sucked in Vietnam. It could be a year.

My Mom asked me, “ When am I going to see you again? ”.

I had no answer.

I was trying to be positive and focused on the excitement ahead, but all I could be was sad (again – denying trying to deny your emotions, it doesn’t work!).

On the plane I opened a hand made gift the girl had made for me, which was in short, a note about what our time meant to her… It didn’t help too much with the sadness, but it also made me feel happy and grateful at the same time for what we had.

A Week In Vancouver, Canada

My friend Tom and his family were kind enough to put me up for an entire week before my flight to Asia. I was trying to force myself to see some of the city, but jetlag, flying, stress, the break up, and my cold were all catching up on me. I was still exhausted.

Even going to Whistler I couldn’t get it out of my head that I SHOULD feel happier, that I SHOULD be exploring the city.

noam-lightstone-whistler-olympic-village

Chilling at Whistler Olympic Village.

And you know what made me feel better? Lying in bed a day resting, and then taking a night to listen to Linkin Park – it’s my guilty “ I’m going to be sad now and fuck off ” music. Yes I admit it and I love it.

I promised myself I’d come back through Vancouver when I came back home, mainly because there was a lot of the city I didn’t see. Amazing air, beaches to forests to downtown urban sprawls in a maximum 30 minute drive radius… Vancouver is pretty awesome.

…and also to check out the thumpin’ nightlife.

Introduction To Asia – Four Days In Hong Kong

After Vancouver I started to feel more excitement then sadness. After a brutal 13 hour flight I arrived in Asia, specifically in Hong Kong. Thankfully it was a nice segue into Asia, as I think my brain probably would have exploded (more so than it did) if I went to Vietnam first.

Me in the streets of Hong Kong.

In the streets of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is quite international and there is English (written and spoken) everywhere. It is super expensive though… think of it as the London of Asia.

My first greeting after figuring out how to get to my hostel/hotel was people trying to sell me stuff… Lacking sleep (I can’t sleep on planes), and it being 5AM Vancouver time, all I wanted was a bed.

There are Indian guys all along the street trying to sell you watches, luggage, and accommodation… and if you talk to them, they will not give up. They will follow you and not quit. I learned my lesson over the next few days though – ignoring them outright makes them lose all their power, and they give up easily XD… That, or just put headphones in.

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I nearly couldn’t get in to my room because the manager didn’t answer the door to the hostel, but I got in finally.

My first impression?

Man this room is small and crappy!

It was advertised as a hotel, but it was definitely a hostel type situation – bed, with the width of a person between it and the walls, leading to a combined washroom/shower… I thought Asia was supposed to have nice lodging for cheap?? (Hong Kong is an exception, especially in its guest houses).

I got about 4 hours of sleep (I crashed around 6AM Vancouver time, 10PM Hong Kong time), and the rest was broken 20 minute power naps until deciding to get up at 6:30AM to do some apartment hunting for Vietnam online, and some prep.

I walked around over the next few days taking in the fact that I had made a huge step some people told me they could never do, and re-located across the world. I tried some new food and saw some amazing things like the Hong Kong night skyline. I also visited the Skybar on top of the Ritz-Carlton, the tallest bar in the world (where the drinks are appropriately priced).

I was also introduced to poorer air quality… Compared to coming from cottage-country-air Vancouver, it was a HUGE step down.

After 4 days it was time to take my direct flight from HK to Ho Chi Minh City, only 2.5 hours long.

I have to say Air Canada could learn a thing or two from Vietnam Airlines – tons of leg room, really good meal even on a short flight… I like.

I was still exhausted from jetlag, but getting pretty excited to finally step foot in my home at least the next few months.

Continue on to Part 2 – My first week in Vietnam, Vietnamese culture, lifestyle, and travel tips.

What It’s Like To Drop Everything And Travel The World, Part 1

Nearly a month ago, I dropped everything I had in Canada and became a digital nomad. I took a suitcase, a backpack, and flew to Vietnam. So I decided to write a 5000 word multi-post about my experience thus far.

In this three-part post, I’ll discuss the lead up to the trip, some challenges I’ve faced, and then focus specifically on my first week in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Part 1 will be the lead up to the trip and pre-Vietnam travels.
  • Part 2 will be the culture and lifestyle I have seen thus far in Vietnam (VISAs, food, dating, people, scams, etc.). Part 2 is here.
  • Part 3 will be about my personal growth in a month and what I have learned about myself. Part 3 is here.

Parts 1 and 3 will probably be more for your entertainment and following me through my journey. Part 2 contains more information-based stuff if you’re thinking about coming here or just want some insight into living in a foreign country.

Lead Up And Prep

THANKFULLY I learned from my two and a half month trip across Europe, and spent a lot less time prepping. I’m sure this was because I was experienced in travelling at this point, but also because I knew besides the mental prep, there wasn’t much to do… Move home, pack up a suitcase, and go.

The mental component was extremely tough though. I would go from days of being ecstatic and excited at the opportunity I had (like saving over $1,000 and being able to afford my freakin’ plane ticket), to so anxious and distressed I couldn’t silence my mind. How could I predict what would happen – there were too many unknowns! All I could do was go and see, just like anything you are afraid of – you have to go and do it and see what happens.

Saying Goodbyes

Saying goodbye to my friends sucked. With so many things happening at once, including the huge move overseas, having to move back to my home city, Ottawa, from Toronto first, and trying to get some apartment hunting going… my brain was overwhelmed and could hardly process anything except what was dire and needed in the moment.

On one of the last nights in Toronto my friends and I were playing some video games and I just felt sad… Just extremely sad. I was beating myself up thinking I should just feel good and try to spend as much time as I could with them in any aspect, but all I could feel was fear and sadness.

This was mainly caused by me knowing that a major relationship was about to end. For my friends, I knew I’d see them again soon. Most of them planning on coming to Asia, there was always Skype, and friendships just transcend distance (at least with this group of friends).

But for a romantic relationship ending, I was a wreck. It was one of the best things that had happened to me in a while. And though I knew Vietnam, travelling, adventure, and my businesses were more important… I, as well as the woman, felt that things were ending too soon. What we had was so good and was ending so abruptly.

But I had booked my ticket, and knew that though it hurt, it would end with either me moving across the world, or her going back home across the country in a few months.

Because of the way we were, even the last day we spent together we couldn’t really be sad until the last few hours. We just made each other so happy that it was impossible to think about things ending. But we knew time was ticking and it had to end.

It was the first time I felt like, while I would always want to date the girl again, that I really wanted to remain close friends with her because I cared for her so much and loved her personality.

We agreed to a month of letting our emotions die down, and then afterwards, to see what would happen.

Packing And Leaving Home

While my family had invited me out before, I had started to get sick (probably from stress and so many things happening at once) that after the break up all I wanted to do was be alone. I felt sad and exhausted even before my trip had begun.

Not a good sign.

So most of the packing took place the day of my flight, right up to the minute I had to leave for the airport figuring out what I’d need to bring.

I had no idea when I’d be back, honestly… and I still don’t. It could be a week if things really sucked in Vietnam. It could be a year.

My Mom asked me, “ When am I going to see you again? ”.

I had no answer.

I was trying to be positive and focused on the excitement ahead, but all I could be was sad (again – denying trying to deny your emotions, it doesn’t work!).

On the plane I opened a hand made gift the girl had made for me, which was in short, a note about what our time meant to her… It didn’t help too much with the sadness, but it also made me feel happy and grateful at the same time for what we had.

A Week In Vancouver, Canada

My friend Tom and his family were kind enough to put me up for an entire week before my flight to Asia. I was trying to force myself to see some of the city, but jetlag, flying, stress, the break up, and my cold were all catching up on me. I was still exhausted.

Even going to Whistler I couldn’t get it out of my head that I SHOULD feel happier, that I SHOULD be exploring the city.

noam-lightstone-whistler-olympic-village

Chilling at Whistler Olympic Village.

And you know what made me feel better? Lying in bed a day resting, and then taking a night to listen to Linkin Park – it’s my guilty “ I’m going to be sad now and fuck off ” music. Yes I admit it and I love it.

I promised myself I’d come back through Vancouver when I came back home, mainly because there was a lot of the city I didn’t see. Amazing air, beaches to forests to downtown urban sprawls in a maximum 30 minute drive radius… Vancouver is pretty awesome.

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…and also to check out the thumpin’ nightlife.

Introduction To Asia – Four Days In Hong Kong

After Vancouver I started to feel more excitement then sadness. After a brutal 13 hour flight I arrived in Asia, specifically in Hong Kong. Thankfully it was a nice segue into Asia, as I think my brain probably would have exploded (more so than it did) if I went to Vietnam first.

Me in the streets of Hong Kong.

In the streets of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is quite international and there is English (written and spoken) everywhere. It is super expensive though… think of it as the London of Asia.

My first greeting after figuring out how to get to my hostel/hotel was people trying to sell me stuff… Lacking sleep (I can’t sleep on planes), and it being 5AM Vancouver time, all I wanted was a bed.

There are Indian guys all along the street trying to sell you watches, luggage, and accommodation… and if you talk to them, they will not give up. They will follow you and not quit. I learned my lesson over the next few days though – ignoring them outright makes them lose all their power, and they give up easily XD… That, or just put headphones in.

I nearly couldn’t get in to my room because the manager didn’t answer the door to the hostel, but I got in finally.

My first impression?

Man this room is small and crappy!

It was advertised as a hotel, but it was definitely a hostel type situation – bed, with the width of a person between it and the walls, leading to a combined washroom/shower… I thought Asia was supposed to have nice lodging for cheap?? (Hong Kong is an exception, especially in its guest houses).

I got about 4 hours of sleep (I crashed around 6AM Vancouver time, 10PM Hong Kong time), and the rest was broken 20 minute power naps until deciding to get up at 6:30AM to do some apartment hunting for Vietnam online, and some prep.

I walked around over the next few days taking in the fact that I had made a huge step some people told me they could never do, and re-located across the world. I tried some new food and saw some amazing things like the Hong Kong night skyline. I also visited the Skybar on top of the Ritz-Carlton, the tallest bar in the world (where the drinks are appropriately priced).

I was also introduced to poorer air quality… Compared to coming from cottage-country-air Vancouver, it was a HUGE step down.

After 4 days it was time to take my direct flight from HK to Ho Chi Minh City, only 2.5 hours long.

I have to say Air Canada could learn a thing or two from Vietnam Airlines – tons of leg room, really good meal even on a short flight… I like.

I was still exhausted from jetlag, but getting pretty excited to finally step foot in my home at least the next few months.

Continue on to Part 2 – My first week in Vietnam, Vietnamese culture, lifestyle, and travel tips.

How to Drop Everything and Travel the World

Temples in Angkor Wat - one of the many place you can visit as you travel the world.

That overwhelming feeling that surges through your body – it’s a combination of apathy, wanderlust and straight up I-don’t-give-a-shit-anymore. You’re sitting at your desk, enduring another mundane day at work with your gossiping co-workers, when the lightbulb kicks in. There’s so much more out there. I need more than this. You’re little fingers start Googling plane tickets to exotic, far away lands that you can’t even pronounce. You scroll through the endless pages of white sands, turquoise waters, mojitos and palm trees when all of the sudden your I-don’t-give-a-shit-anymore attitude starts to fade. What about money? You think. What about my apartment? My family? Pets? Friends? My career? And, just like that, you’ve scared yourself back into your assembly line position in life as an unhappy worker bee.

Don’t worry. I’m here to digitally slap you with my words so you can WAKE THE F*** UP and start enjoying your life. I’m about to drop some mics up in this beach (I suck at play on words, just bear with me).

Let’s start with, what is probably, the biggest road block in your way:

The Job

See your job as a tool. You need it while you’re saving towards your goal. How long you need to keep your job will depend on how long you want to travel the world, if you have any savings, where you are going and what style of traveler you are. If you want to travel the world for the next 30 years and live in a life of luxury, you’re going to need a truck load of money, and your current job probably won’t be the answer to your dreams. Don’t worry, there’s more options that we’ll get to later. If you aren’t already a successful entrepreneur with a padded bank account, or you are not the offspring of a Kardashian, you will need to do some saving. This is where a lot of people lose interest. You might not like what I’m about to say, but it’s the only path to your dreams. Ready?

You need to WORK. HARD. EVERY. DAY.

I’m dead serious. Take those extra shifts. Get a second or third job. Work double shifts. Even work six or seven days a week. Work as much as you physically and mentally can handle. Whether this means for the next 3 months or the next year, you need to work your booty off. Yes, your social life will have to be set on the back burner. Yes, you aren’t going to have much time for anything fun. BUT THIS IS WORTH IT. Just think about how the next however-many-months of hard work are going to launch you into a life of travel and freedom. And, if you’re constantly working, it gives you less opportunities to spend money. You’re bank account is going to look like a rapper’s music video.

To get a better idea of how much you need to save, use my Travel Budget Planner. You will have to do some research in order to get a better idea of what you might spend, but it will be essential to making your travel dreams come true.

So, you’ve filled out your Travel Budget Planner and you have a rough idea of how much you want to save. You should be able to calculate, roughly, how much longer you will need to be at your job(s) in order to reach your goal. Don’t put in your letter of resignation until you have reached, or are well over, your goal. There will be really tough days, and it’ll seem like you will never get to travel the world, but hang in there. It will happen.

Lastly, don’t feel bad about leaving your job or career. Seriously. You will find another job, if you want to. You will find a better job, if you have the drive. As long as you are a hard worker and learn as much as you possibly can, there is no reason why you won’t find another job that is better than your current situation. You know what you want, and you want to travel the world. Follow that instinct, because you’ll only regret it if you don’t.

*Hint: If possible, try to stay on good terms with your old bosses and businesses. If you do decide to come back home and work, reach out to them. They may take you back – this is where being a hard worker will shine – or have connections to other job openings.

Leases/Apartments

If you are renting, ideally you won’t have to break your lease. There will most likely be penalty fees if you do. If you plan to leave before your lease is up, try to sublease it. Find a sublessor using websites like Craigslist or Gumtree, and asking everyone you know.

If you have an awesome family member or friend that will let you move in for a few months rent free, or charge you extremely cheap rent, jump on that pony. Not paying rent is seriously going to change your savings game. Don’t be a total freeloader – cook them meals, do their laundry, clean their house – basically, don’t be a lazy f*** because you don’t want anyone loathing you for using them to get your perfect travel life.

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If you are lucky enough to own your home/apartment, the best option is to rent it out. If you want to do long term rentals, you will need to find a reputable property management company or friend/family member to be the landlord while you’re away. The rent money will be deposited into your account, but you will have someone in your motherland to hold the fort down (i.e., call the plumber, fix any issues that occur, etc.).

You can also choose to do short term or vacation rentals through Airbnb or local rental management companies. If you go with Airbnb, you will still need a trusted homie/fam member to give the guests’ their keys, change the sheets, clean, etc. A rental management company will handle all of these affairs for you, but they will obviously want a cut of the profit.

Your Stuff

Maybe you have a house/apartment full of stuff and you don’t know what to do with it. There’s two options:

  1. Sell it. Get on websites like eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, GearTrade, etc. to sell your stuff. If you truly want to travel the world, and would do anything to get their, selling your stuff part of the equation. It will give you some extra cash to travel with, and setting you up to live a minimalist lifestyle. You won’t be needing that foot massager you bought from a TV ad at 3am. SELL IT. Once you start traveling, and living out of a backpack, you will understand just how little you actually need to be happy. Things don’t bring you happiness. Experiences and memories do. Trust me.
  2. Move it (if you must). If you must keep some of your things that won’t be coming traveling with you, you need a longterm place to keep them. Somewhere that you know it’ll be safe, even if you prolong your travels for months and months (or years and years). Ask a family member or a friend if they have some extra shelf space in the garage or storage room. If all else fails, find the smallest, cheapest storage unit that you could possibly get away with. Monthly fees will only impair your travel funds, but sometimes it must be done. Make sure you add a trustworthy family member or friend’s name to your storage unit lease, just in case you need someone to handle your matters while you’re gallivanting across the world.

Loans/Payments

Traveling while in debt is difficult, but not impossible. The best option is to get out of debt before you leave. If you have car payments, consider selling your car (even if you don’t owe money on your car, this is a great way to get some more cash to help you travel the world).

If you have mortgage payments, renting your house out while you are gone will help pay them off each month.

If selling or renting isn’t an option for you (i.e., student loans, the bastards), you will simply have to add your monthly payments into your travel fund equation. Make sure you have enough money set aside each month solely for your debts. This is money you will not touch while traveling. It will be specifically allocated to your fees back home. This might mean waiting and working longer before you travel the world, but it’s not something you can run away from.

Leaving your pets is either not an option for you, or an extremely hard one. If you have an amazing friend or family member that will take your pet(s) while you’re away, consider yourself lucky. Your pet will forgive you, trust me. The guilt may eat away at you every day, but your pet will still love you. They may give you the cold shoulder for a few days when you return – literally the worst feeling – but they will come back around and be obsessed with you again.

Multiple, shorter trips is a nice option to see your pets more often. You can backpack for 3-4 months at a time, then return home for a few months. Yes, you may be losing some money on plane tickets, but it will give you more quality time with your furry friend(s).

If leaving your pet(s) isn’t an option, you could base your travels around them. Depending on where you live, van life/road tripping could be an amazing way to see new places with your pet. For example, if you live in North or South America, you can cross borders almost seemlessly via a vehicle with your pet. There’s lots of people who share their van life experiences with a dog on YouTube. Check out how Max and Lee handle it with their dog Occy here. Obviously, some pets are easier to travel with than others, and only you can make the decision for your pet as to whether they would enjoy it.

Family/Friends

Leaving your family and friends can be a bit of a shock if it’s your first time doing it. Your family may not understand, and they might warn you about the dangers and terrible people out in the world – they will also quote every travel horror movie that’s ever been made. Although family is important, YOU NEED TO DO YOU. If this is what you want, then this is what you need to do. Your family will love you regardless, so just be a rebel for once in your life and go against the grain. Make sure you email, WhatsApp and FaceTime them as much as possible so they know where you are and that you’re above ground.

Friends can be funny when you’re traveling. Your true friends will be supportive, but don’t expect them to be a Stan and stalk your every move. Just because your friends aren’t liking every travel post on Facebook or asking you daily about what adventures you had, doesn’t mean they don’t love or miss you. Don’t get mad at them for not being obsessed with your new travel life. Time doesn’t stop when you leave – they have their own lives to live. If you want to stay in touch with someone, you need to put the time in. Send them a message every few weeks to let them know you miss them. Friendship is a two way street, don’t expect them to always be chasing you.

*Hint: When you do return home, don’t expect everyone to drop their lives to listen to your travel stories. Some people can’t comprehend the nomadic life, therefore they aren’t interested in it. Don’t be butt hurt if they don’t sit in a circle begging for more stories. You know how awesome your travel life is, and that’s all that matters.

It’s not impossible. No matter what your situation is, you can work towards your dream. Have kids? Take them with. Don’t think you could really quit your job to travel the world? Take short trips throughout the year that allow you to keep your job. Don’t like flying or it’s too expensive? Take road trips or convert a van. You can always start small. Try going somewhere new every weekend – check out all the surrounding towns/places near you.

Stop giving yourself excuses, starting doing work and go TRAVEL THE WORLD!

Source https://lightwayofthinking.com/what-its-like-to-drop-everything-and-travel-the-world-part-1/

Source https://lightwayofthinking.com/what-its-like-to-drop-everything-and-travel-the-world-part-1/

Source https://shewanderedwest.com/2018/12/06/drop-everything-and-travel-the-world/

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