I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
– Bill Bryson
I’m Keith, a traveller, entrepreneur, and techie with over 25 years of travel experience and a love of culture. I started this site several years ago as a way of helping others with the techniques and tricks I’d picked up from a lifetime of taking planes, trains and automobiles around the world. It’s a passion project. It has to be done!
I roughly count the years, but I don’t count countries.
Travel Hacking was something I became quite good at. But in the end, it’s not the only thing to focus on. Travelling for the sake of it, on the other hand, is very good.
I’m interested in slow travel. Staying put in a place for a long time might appear boring to some people. But the benefits of learning a new culture, making friends, experiencing a place as a “local”, and enjoying being somewhere (rather than rushing to the next place), make slow travel a much more attractive option for me.
Flying around South America or Asia for 2 weeks trying to see everything is not my idea of fun. That sounds like a mini-vacation nightmare.
Of course, not everyone can travel as I can. Some people only get a couple of weeks holidays a year and I understand that. But if you have the opportunity to spend longer in one place, do it. Why rush? Countries will still be there (mostly) in 10 years. You don’t have to see every country in the world to be fulfilled.
I don’t get enough time to follow my “passion” these days but whenever I feel inspired, I write a few pages. It feels good to do so. I’ve been an independent traveller for over half my life. The one thing I regret is not documenting and writing about my travels for 90% of that time. It’s all in my head but I should put it down on a page.
It’s a few years ago now but my 25th birthday was a milestone, as it is for most people. It’s the quarter-century and I had plans to spend it on top of the world. The morning of my birthday I woke up in a stone refuge not too far from the summit of Jebel Toubkal, in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. This is the desert and it was freezing cold. At 3000m the air is frigid at first light. I climbed out of my sleeping bag and put on my hiking boots, all the while smiling to myself giddily.
A few days earlier I had arrived in Marrakech with a vague plan to hike in the Atlas Mountains. A chance encounter with a guy in my hotel sparked my interest in following a route which led to the summit of the highest mountain in North Africa, Toubkal. This is why I love to travel. You never know what will happen, who you will meet, or where your path with lead. He told me where I could buy a map and gave me some Atlas Mountains travel tips. I bought a map, at an extortionate price, and I set off. That was my entire plan. Follow the route and climb the mountain.
The 4-day hike took me through valleys and villages like none I had seen before. It’s a barren part of the world but extremely beautiful. Goat herders would offer me Mint Tea wherever I went. This sickly sweet concoction is enjoyed by everyone in Morocco and the smell of mint still brings me back to Morocco, even after many years.
The Simple Joy Of Travel
The night before my birthday I stopped at the refuge, a simple place for pilgrims and hikers, ate a big meal and bedded down for the night. The following day I was alone, one of the first people on the trail, climbing the last 1000m up to the summit of Jebel Toubkal. I was so excited that I couldn’t stop looking around, taking in the smells and absorbing the light as it began to peek through the mountains around the valley. Eventually, I got lost and ended up way off track in a slightly dangerous scree slope.
Moving very slowly so as to not end up in a huge landslide and a fast track to the bottom, I made my way back to the trail where I met some other hikers who had observed my off-road antics. I moved off quickly, wanting to reach the summit ahead of the groups. The pace suited me and I could still marvel at what a beautiful part of the world I was in.
When I finally reached the summit I must have been smiling widely. Some other hikers were already there and smiled back. The sun was just above eye level and the view was glorious. I felt elated and remembering it was my birthday I feel the need to tell the other hikers. They were Spanish and my Spanish skills were non-existent at the time. So I mimed ‘It’s my Birthday’ as best as I could. They laughed in sympathy. I decided I would learn Spanish right there, and I did a few years later.
I also decided that my life would be about experiences and I’ve continued that quest. I had reached the highest point in North Africa, at a milestone point in my life, and was just happy to be alive. That feeling has come back to me over and over again and I am grateful for the joy of travel.
Non-Bucket List Travel
Travel isn’t about ticking off boxes, making bucket lists, and finding the cheapest way around the world. I’m not saying that theses things are bad at all. In fact, I love finding cheap flights and there is a sense of satisfaction in completing a journey or visiting a place that previously seemed out of reach.
Travel is about experiencing things that you will never, and I mean never, experience living in your own country. It’s about interacting with people in ordinary ways, but which cannot be recreated when you are living your daily, normal life.
Many of the most lasting memories I have of travel are of mundane things like sitting on a bus with an anxious anticipation of the destination or feeling the heavy, humid air press against my skin for the first time in a new country. I can still smell the streets of Buenos Aires like I was still there.
The memories of people bring me the greatest joy. Despite the fact that I’ve seen some of the world’s most amazing places I still feel deeper rushes of excitement and pangs of sadness about the people I met along the way.
These things I treasure more than any photo. In fact, I spent many years travelling without a camera. This was more due to laziness and stubbornness than any rational reason. (These days I mostly travel with a DSLR and iPhone).
If I want to see what the Eiffel tower looks like with someone standing in front of it I can find plenty of those on the internet. (“Instagram Eiffel Tower Selfie” returns almost 2 million results). So I didn’t travel for the photos but I do wish I had carried one some of my trips. Now and again, I find myself wondering what a place really looked like, at the time I visited. Just my view of it.
I think most people would benefit from slow travel. And by that, I don’t mean getting a horse-drawn carriage to transport you from Paris to Egypt. I mean spending extended time in a country. Bucket-listing my way around the world would leave me with more of a sense of dissatisfaction that accomplishment.
My only real travel regrets are that I didn’t spend more time in a place. Living in a country for months or years really allows one to experience something special. I enjoyed my travels more when I didn’t have to think about the next flight, or sit in an airport, or worry if I am getting ripped off by people who spot that I’m ’straight off the boat’. I guess that, to some extent, routine and familiarity are good for the soul and the mind.
Living in a country for months or years really allows one to experience something special. I enjoyed my travels more when I didn’t have to think about the next flight, or sit in an airport, or worry if I am getting ripped off by people who spot that I’m ’straight off the boat’.
I guess that, to some extent, routine and familiarity are good for the soul and the mind. I always enjoy learning about a city and its people. Understanding how things are done in a place doesn’t happen on a 2-day stopover. These days, I live a sort of digital nomad lifestyle, but I still like to spend months a time in each place I visit.
The benefits of slow travel also extend to monetary gains. Paying the local price, eating the local food, taking the local buses means that I don’t blow through money as I would if I was a speed-traveller.
Travel has made me a better person. This I am sure of. I now think about the world differently. I approach problems in a new way. I am more tolerant of different views and cultures. I have more empathy for my fellow human being, regardless of their background.
Solo Travel Is Adventure Travel
I usually travel alone. But I’m not anti-social. As I mentioned earlier, the most important thing I take away from my travels is the human connection. Being a solo traveller means forces you to connect with people.
Shy people and the socially awkward should try travelling solo for a while. If there’s one sure way of combating your shyness it’s travelling alone in another country. Making it work comes down to a trial by fire process. Do it, make mistakes, learn. If you never move outside of your social circle you’ll never want to move outside of it. Taking trips to places you don’t know and interacting with people you’ve never met before makes you open up without even thinking about it.
Travel is a confidence booster better than any therapy or drug.
Go and travel! It’s good for you.
I’ve been travelling for a long time but I only recently started a travel blog. One day I’ll add everything I can to the pages of this website. I’d recommend anyone that loves travel to write about their experiences. Even if you have no intention of starting a blog or making money from travel blogging, your writing will be an account of your journeys and experiences. It’s also a great way to practice travel writing.
These are some of my favourite destinations for travel.
Thailand – Amazing landscapes and food. Friendly people. Fascinating culture. Thailand has it all.
Georgia – One of the world’s most interesting countries and one that is relatively unknown. Go there before it all changes.
Argentina – A country dear to my heart. A huge country with some of the most beautiful scenery, people, and music in the world.
Taiwan – Incredible food. Modern cities, towering mountains, superb beaches. Progressive culture.
Go somewhere without a guidebook!
Good travel is an art. Just like negotiating the business world, managing your personal relationships, and making great art, good travel requires patience and an open mind. This is why I don’t focus purely on money-saving, time-saving, or the best places to (fill in your own query).
The tips and tricks I suggest here will help you but they should only be a small part of the travel experience. Letting yourself get lost, meet new people, and learn new things will bring you more joy than any new travel app or gadget. However, it’s good to be prepared. Knowing how to get the most out of a trip is valuable. I wouldn’t want you to throw away money either so helping with money-saving tips is part of the plan for this site.
I don’t write for the tour bus and package deal tourists because that’s not my area. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just don’t have any experience in that type of travel.
I don’t sell credit cards, offer credit card affiliate links and I don’t care about accumulating points
There are many other sites that do amazing jobs of teaching you how to accumulate the most air miles and then how to spend them. Not everyone in the world has the opportunity to collect air miles. Not all travellers have credit cards for the sole purpose of collecting miles. The trend is for air miles to be worth much less in the future anyway. There are other ways of flying for cheap.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~ T.S. Eliot
I’m a blogger, entrepreneur and online business owner. I would love to hear from other bloggers (travel bloggers or otherwise) and online entrepreneurs. Please also get in touch if you’d like some help with your travel plans. There’s nothing a travel geek likes more than to talk about their favourite subject.
I make some money from affiliate links for products and services I use (yep, I use them all) but I want this blog to be authentic. I’m not writing a fake review for money. The internet is becoming more polluted with fakery every year. This is my opportunity to stand back from that.
note: no paid ‘positive’ review posts at all. I only write about stuff I can get behind. Everything else is fake. That makes it better for me and for the reader. There are affiliate links on some pages but these will not affect the cost to you. I only write about products I’ve tested, places I’ve visited, and websites and services I enjoy.
Tweet me at @nomadflagtravel
If you’d like to get in touch write to [email protected]
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