Before the journey: 5 reasons for traveling like a vagabond

by Jakob Horvat, September 19th 2016, Vienna / Austria

OK, you got me! I am slowly getting nervous. My emotions become weirder and a bit unpredictable as the departure date of November 10th is coming closer. It´s not only that I´ve never been away from home longer than one month. I´ve also never jumped into the unknown like that. Laughing out loud although scared as hell while performing a double backflip. At least it feels a bit like that.

1. What a great way to learn new skills.

Not having too many plans and leaving enough space for spontaneity has been my preferred way of traveling for years. This is another level though. Here´s the plan, as far as you can call this a plan: We will start right from my doorstep. We, that is my Norwegian bro Martin Loken and me. He will pick me up in Vienna and we´ll hit the metro to reach a gas station in the Viennese suburbs. How ordinary can a world trip of fourteen months start, one might ask? I´m quite sure, this is as ordinary as it gets. We will write “South America” on a piece of carton. And show it to strangers kindly asking them for a lift. I´m quite sure that this will prevent us from getting bored right from the beginning. Martin is a well experienced hitchhiker, I´m not. But I´m fascinated about the concept and curious to learn what I need to know. That will happen sooner than later, no doubt. Two weeks of hitchhiking to Portugal provides a good field for practice, I guess.

2. Challenging yourself has never been that intense

Getting to South America is no big deal when traveling by plane. We won´t board an aircraft though, which demands a bit of a boat journey. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is not recommended between May and November. There are a couple of cyclones you don´t want to sail through. But as soon as the storms calm down in November hundreds of boat enthusiasts set their sails towards America. Most of them begin their transatlantic turns in Las Palmas, the capital of the Canary Islands southwest of Morocco and a hotspot for sailors. That is our destination we need to reach by the end of November. Because, as you might have guessed already, our goal is to hitchhike over the Atlantic too. In other words: We got to find sailors who are willing to take two strangers on board of their yachts for three weeks in confined space. We can´t even offer great sailing skills, actually I´ve never sailed on a boat, neither has Martin.

3. You learn how to trust. You have to.

This is where trust comes into game. Trust in the universe (or how ever you want to call it) to find a lift in time. Most of the sailors will be gone by the beginning of December as they prefer Christmas in the warm Caribbean over the cold Canaries. Furthermore, trust in the sailing skills of those who will give us a lift. Trust in their boat, for sure. And last but not least: Trust in my own body which will have to deal with a lot of waves. I have heard that being seasick for three weeks must be the hell on earth. Well, on water, indeed. I´d be glad not to find out.

4. You become a pro level mindfucker. And profit from it.

I believe that taking first steps into unknown territory is always connected to trust. The bigger the step is, the greater our trust needs to be to take the challenge. As I´m experiencing it these days, this trust is a quite flexible value. Believing in my vision, my goals and my inner self might seem easy on one day, but difficult as hell on the other. This is when fear and doubt overrules my confidence. And that makes me questioning the whole project. It´s when my inner voice starts to fuck my mind asking questions like these: “Why the heck can´t you travel like anyone else? What, if it all doesn´t work out? And what is this blog project all about? Do you seriously believe that anyone will show interest in that?”

You know what? I think that´s natural. I´m trying to accept these feelings as they arise and see them as part of the whole game. That makes it easier to deal with them. Furthermore I´m trying to see fear and nervousness as friends, not enemies. These feelings can be a valuable indicator for what is important at a given moment. They make me pay respect to the task and let me put my full attention on it. And thus prevent me from taking challenges too easy.

5. You expand your comfort zone. Step by step.

American mythologist Joseph Campbell once said: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” Feeling the fear and entering anyway not just gives us the chance to find the treasure. But also supercharges us with the power and confidence needed for even bigger adventures. I´m not saying that this is easy. Not at all. Actually I have no clue how hard it can be.

But I´m curious to find out. Which is why we like the less convenient way of traveling. Why we choose couches from strangers over clean and comfy hotel beds. Why we prefer to write destinations on cartons rather than on flight booking platforms. Trading comfort zones for uncertainty. Trying to take a thousand first steps and dance and laugh and sweat and cry along the way. And sharing some lessons we are learning through it. While meeting some of the most amazing people on the planet. To me that sounds like a good deal. At least for now.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” Joseph Campbell

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