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Am I lucky?

The by far most frequent words I hear and have heard the last year are: “Oh, you are so lucky!”. I get this from people online and offline – from people that I know and total strangers. They are of course referring to that I’m traveling the world. But does it really have anything to do with being lucky? On behalf of myself and other world travelers out there, I would say NO – and here is why!

First of all; what does being lucky actually mean?
This is of course individual as different people appreciate different ways of life, but what goes for everyone are two basic fundamentals which I think being lucky is all about.

Firstly, health is the greatest wealth. To be born without any diseases or disorders is a gift. To wake up every day and live your live without any, is an even greater gift. I’m not talking about the flu, but real diseases that can and will affect your life in one way or another. For example cancer might send you to hospital and treatment for years stopping you from studies, living your everyday life or enjoying your hobbies.

Secondly, to be born and able to live in a part of the world without poverty, starvation, corruption, frequent natural disasters,  lack of water and last but also worst; war. We are at the moment 7,5 billion people on the planet. Half of these live in what the World Bank consider as poverty – on less than 2 dollars per day. 1,5 billion lives on what’s called extreme poverty – less than 1 dollar per day. Today 15 000 people die due to starvation, just as yesterday and unfortunately a few more tomorrow. Most of my readers (not that I have many) probably live in Europe, the US or Australia where in contrast to poor countries overweight and obesity is growing day by day – too much food! Some of you even might get some rain perhaps a little too often – but at least it’s not raining bombs.

My point with these two basic fundamentals is that it’s really hard to have a good life without them and most of us take them for granted. If you call me lucky for traveling the world; remember that in the “sperm lottery” there is a 50 % chance you get born in a poor part of the world. We are talking a 50 / 50 chance! Ending up on the “right” side here, THAT’s being lucky!

Am I lucky because I’m able to travel the world?
So, now when being lucky is defined – let’s get back to the topic of traveling the world. Even though I’m born in a safe and wealthy part of the world and without disorders, I was not born into a life of wealth or travel at all. In fact, my father never sat his foot in an airplane – and I’ve by age 30 visited all continents in the world multiple times and soon been to 100 countries. Sadly my father died way too young at age 52 and I know what some of you are thinking now – but I didn’t inherit a single dollar. I don’t like talking about money, but I will however get back to the financial part a little later in this post.

The reason I’m able to travel the world is because of me and the choices I’ve taken – nothing else. In the same way that I’ve chosen a way of traveling – I’ve had to say no and to sacrifice other things in life. It’s called priorities and it’s the one and only reason I’m able to live this kind of life. If you take a look in my wardrobe you’ll understand. It’s mainly full of either clothes from H&M or sports clothes. Even though also I think that Ralph Lauren clothes look better, I don’t fall for the temptation of buying them – I would rather spend the money on a flight ticket instead. Or buy some stocks or put them into my savings account so I could afford an extra apartment to rent out. This mindset and these choices has brought me to where I am today.

It has nothing to do with luck. It’s basically only priorities, money management and street smartness and therefore I think it’s well deserved that I’m able to have this life now. Let’s compare to a guy with a really good job and high salaries. He probably worked hard in school, studied for many years, put in a lot of effort in order to get good grades and eventually a good job. After years of hard and dedicated work he becomes a manager and receives high salaries. Would you call being lucky? Or just a result of priorities, hard work and smart choices over a long time? It’s not being lucky – it’s just being smart and the result is well-deserved.

Money management
I very rarely speak about money with other travelers or local people, but every once in a while people say: “Oh, you must be very rich!” and to a certain extent, compared to the average man on earth, that is true. Anyways, I always answer by saying: “It’s not about how much money you have or can make – it’s a about how little you can spend!”.

There is one great fallacy among people when it comes to private economy and money management and it goes like this:
We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t know or in some cases don’t even like. Last but not least; they probably don’t even care.

The perhaps even worse and ironic result of this is often that the things you think that you own end up owning you. So what do I mean by these “smart ideas” of mine? Here is an example: some people are taking big loans to buy a brand new car. I understand and respect that some people need a car, but I don’t agree on that they need a brand new car – or a fancy one at all. A 5 year old Toyota could do the same job! Also, if you can’t even afford it – why do you buy it? This will only limit your economy and unfortunately in many ways also your life. A perfect example of someone buying something he/she doesn’t really need, with money he/she doesn’t have and the car ends up “owning” him/her because of the commitment of the loan.

To be clear; consuming is not the problem. Without consumption the economy and also the world stops. The problem is overconsumption!

Traveling is not only rainbows and butterflies – would you handle this?
If you believe that traveling the world only is about beautiful sunsets, paradise beaches, cosy cities and might misty mountains – think again. There are for sure lots of this too and that’s what I like to share in social media, since I like to inspire, be positive and show the best of the countries I visit in order for them to attract more tourism and hopefully the people there can achieve a better life since tourism contributes with money which again gives food, education and a way out of the poverty.

There are however endless of unpleasant things and situations that you have to struggle with and handle being a world traveler on a budget. And if you still think I’m lucky – ask yourself if you could handle all of this?

  • 8-15 hour bus rides with sometimes zero comfort, no toilet, very warm or extremely cold.
  • Sleeping in hostels and share room with 4-15 other persons almost EVERY NIGHT for one year.
  • This also means NO privacy what so ever! No where to “hide”.
  • People snoring every night (earplugs doesn’t always help unfortunately).
  • Low standard. Sometimes really dirty and nasty showers, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Almost never feel really fresh due to heat or sweating after walking and carrying the bags.
  • Simple just quit your job without any guarantee at all for another one when (if) you get back home.
  • The lack of good food. Don’t get me wrong, you can have amazing food many places, but there are also times where you can find anything but Snickers and french fries. I don’t even wanna know how many nights I’ve had Snickers for dinner after arriving places late in the night when nothing was open.
  • Get food poisoned and diarrhea. Trust me, you will.
  • Not seeing your friends and family for a very long time. Of course you meet a lot of people, and that’s perhaps the best part of traveling solo, but sometimes you simply miss the people you have know for a lifetime.
  • Be away from all the holidays like Christmas, Eastern etc.
  • Carry all your belongings and your entire “wardrobe” in just two bags. Very limited!
  • Waiting.. Trust me, if you travel to poor countries they don’t have as good infrastructure, technology and systems but on the other hand often more bureaucracy and a “mañana mañana mindset” which means A LOT of waiting in airports, border crossings and bus terminals.
  • Use a lot of money, in my case around 37 000 EURO, on something that gives you nothing but “just” memories and experience. That could save you many years on your mortgage or a nice car.
  • Get totally soaked in the rain without any chance to dry your stuff – or your self for a long time.
  • And endless of other more or less unpleasant or frustrating situations. If you have back-packed yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Don’t misunderstand me, traveling is loads of fun as well – but there is a dark side of it and here I mentioned some of the situations and things. Even though it’s sometimes tough, I would never change and I also find a bit of charm in living like this for a limited amount of time. I will definitely appreciate the luxury of just normal standard when I come home.

Conclusion
So to wrap this up and answer the question of the headline if I’m lucky: yes, I’m very lucky – but not because I travel the world. It’s solely thanks to myself, my own choices and priorities.

 

 

“How does it feel?”

As you might imagine I’ve had a lot of questions the last days, both from people online and offline. Questions like where I will go, what budget I have and why I’m doing this alone. Perhaps I will get back to some frequently asked questions in a later post. But there is one question more frequent than any other: “How does it feel?”

The short answer on this is: “AMAZING!”

Though, I feel this question deserves a little longer answer too. Why does it actually feel so good? Imagine you have had a dream for many years that you have been working on step by step to realize. One day, it’s suddenly there – within reach. All effort, time and priorities finally paying off. Believe me, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had – having my biggest dream in my hands! This is a feeling I hope everyone will experience at least once and I strongly encourage you to try to achieve it, no matter how big or small the dream might be.

Of course there are some other feelings and thoughts going through my head. I’m both excited and nervous at the same time, most excited though. But I think it’s good to be a little nervous, it keeps you sharp. And also, if what you do doesn’t make you nervous – is it really worth doing it? No risk no reward, that simple. Yet there is a big difference in being nervous and afraid, and I’m not afraid – not at all. Mainly because of two reasons. Anywhere you go in the world, there are mostly good people. Humans like to help and if you come with a smile – you will get a smile in return. Secondly, to worry over things you can’t control is totally meaningless. I believe a lot of people (sometimes even myself) spend too much time and energy of our lives worrying about things, that might happen. Worrying is the most stupid thing we humans do; it’s like walking around with an umbrella over our heads, waiting for it to start raining. Worry will never change the outcome!

Last but not least, I feel glad! Most of all glad for having great friends and family back home supporting me. And of course also glad for my adventures to come. The places I will experience. The people I will meet and the life long memories we will create.

Next time you will hear from me, I’ll be on the other side of the world. So, am I ready? Ready as I’ll ever be!

First step..

Last days home

Sometimes the best place to travel is simply just home, even for a restless soul like me. After a great but hectic summer spent in Malaysia, Japan, Norway, Sweden and also Russia including a climb to the top of the highest mountain in Europe, Elbrus 5 642, it feels amazing being home for a couple of days. The next 365 days will probably be filled with adventure from sunrise to midnight.  Therefore, I feel doing nothing is the perfect activity these last days home.

Home for me is a very special place. It’s not only a place where I have my mom, memories and a safe haven to go whenever I need, but it’s also a big part of my identity and a contributor to the person I am today. I grew up on a farm in the pretty remote country side of Sweden. No paved roads,  surrounded by beautiful meadows, cows and a lawn as big as a soccer field. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? In many ways it was, but it was also challenging in many ways. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but also a lot of hard work and commitment. A farm doesn’t run by itself, and I learned this at young age. With a little perspective on things, I now know that most things sort out good in the end – but not by itself. Growing up like this definitely made a stamp in my personality and I still often remind myself that it’s never crowded on the extra mile.

Today I’m very grateful for growing up here and could not think of a better home sweet home. Also very grateful spending these days here with my family and participating in my one of my best friends wedding. They now start a new chapter and journey in life, and I wish them the best of luck and happiness in life.

Early tomorrow, I leave for my second home, Norway, and on Tuesday the 6th of September before the sun has even risen, I’m on a flight to South America and Quito, the capital of Ecuador. In approximately one year, hopefully I’m back here where my story begins. Talking to my beloved mother at the kitchen table

Favorite color

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