“I will just continue travelling until I run out of money.”
Said the Irish girl to me I had just met in my hostel in Madrid when I asked her about her travel plans. She just casually said that she was going to continue her travels without a set plan on her Eurail pass until she ran out of money and needed to get a job. At the time I was absolutely fascinated hearing that. For the overachiever hardcoded in my upbringing who had put his career above everything else in life, what she described was never even a thought to consider. What do you mean you’ll just travel whenever and wherever until you run out of money! To paint a picture, I started working the day after I graduated. I did not even go to my convocations (yes, more than one) because I was “too busy” working. What a foolish thought that was in retrospect.
Hearing that sentence is one of those moments that lives in my memory with a clarity that is hard to describe. The more I talked with her, the more I realized how different of a mindset she lived in than me despite the similarities in our backgrounds. She had an education and work experience with a free-spirited, warranted belief in her ability to get a job whenever needed. She did not need to live for some ever-moving payoff in the future that so many of us constantly chase. The more I have thought about this exchange over the years, the more I realized it was the first time I truly understood what it meant to “live in the moment”. In the eternal words of John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
In a few hours, one day short of my maximum number of days allowed, I leave Colombia after three unforgettable months to go back to North America and take care of a few things before I continue this fantastic journey of digital nomadness. In the past eight months, I lived in Peru for two months, Mexico two and a half months, Costa Rica for a couple of weeks, and Colombia for three months. It has been journey of a lifetime!
When I started travelling in October 2021, I knew I would like it. After all I grew up with amazing parents who have a passion for the outdoors, travelling, and experiencing new cultures. I am forever grateful to them for instilling a deep sense of adventure in me from a young age. In many ways there is still a little kid inside that never grew up to be jaded by the realities of everyday life. Travelling gave me back the ability to wake up and be surprised by the adventure that each day’s playground brings.
It is hard to put into words how incredible the past 8 months have felt like. The Inca trail to Machu Picchu lived far beyond the expectations. Isla Mujeres was truly the paradise it had seemed in pictures. In Holbox, I had one of the best weekends of my entire life. After travelling and partying till dawn everyday in Quintana Roo for a month, Yucatan was just a short bus ride which seemed like a whole different side of Mexico. Medellin, the city of eternal spring, felt like home from the minute I set foot in it. With an amazing group of people not only we went to Carnaval in Barranquilla, but ended up in it on a float for a full day! To give you the tldr: I truly loved every minute I spent anywhere I was, because, well… digital nomadness gives you that superpower that you can just about be anywhere you wanted to!
I have met some incredible people along the way that made even the most ordinary places extraordinary. Having travelled solo, I have rarely felt lonely even for a second. Special shoutout to the Selina family who I have travelled with the majority of the last eight months. The community of digital nomads you have built is incredible! I loved it so much so that I decided to try my hands at making community instead of just being a part of it by being a community resident in Selina Medellin.
I have been a community builder most of my life. The residency in Selina Medellin filled that gap I had been feeling since I stepped down as the co-president of the McGill Alumni chapter in Toronto. When I first started my travels in Medellin in October 2021, I met an incredible group of people who welcomed me with opens arms and I count several of them as my closest friends now. The incredible staff became my friends and family away from home. That positive experience was so formative that I have constantly tried my best to pay it forward.
It is a funny feeling, the world actually feels smaller when you are travelling and constantly meeting people. You realize you are meeting some of the best people from each place who share a common sense of adventure and curiosity that bonds all of us together.
As a community resident I was often the second person the nomads met after checking in at the front desk. Fellow travellers quickly would become friends. Shared experiences became a bond that kept the community not just together but had nomads coming back over and over for it. It was a fair amount of work (definitely overtime for my liver!) but receiving heartwarming comments that I had made a positive impact on their journeys, enabling them to make friends in a place they had known no one before, and that they had stayed far longer than originally intended because they did not want to leave the community was always the prized payoff that felt amazing.
To all the incredible people I have met during my travels these past months, thank you with all my heart for being part of my journey and my life! Your companionship made obstacles of any size seem trivial. I have felt some of the happiest moments of my life in your company. The time we spent together might seem fleeting, but the memories have been forever etched into my life’s journal. I have no doubt we will continue to run into each other over and over again.
And then, we will pick things back up right where we left them.
Quoting my favorite literature teacher growing up: “The world is a rose. Smell it and pass it to your friends.”