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In August 2012, inspired by many readings and travel photos on the internet, we took the decision to do it. Backpack in the true sense of the term. Choosing the destination was a piece of cake as Sri Lanka had been on my mind for literally a decade. Listening to stories and having Sri Lankan food had been one of my favorite activities for a long time and it was time I saw the real deal. Planning the trip was no trouble at all as there was no planning to be done. Just booking the ticket sufficed.

backpacking | breadonbutter

After carefully organizing our gear and packing the least of things in our backpack, off we went. You can view our whole trip on this link and this link, but now, I want to share what I learnt while backpacking to Sri Lanka.

I knew backpacking was not going to be easy and that there were going to be moments where I’ll be longing for a proper bedroom and shower, but boy did I learn things: about myself, about Jean, and about the world. Basically, I completely changed perspectives.

When you head to the unknown, that’s when you discover what you’re truly capable of. You discover to which lengths you can go, how much you can take – physically and mentally. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t sometimes cranky and hungry, hot or tired, neither am I going to pretend I wasn’t scared of nature and what I saw. But I learnt my limits and how to overcome those little fears that creep in uselessly.

When we live in a comfort zone, we get used to having everything easy. No insect here to bug you all the time, you rest whenever you feel like it, you don’t have to climb a mountain if you don’t want to. But there, I had to. Not only because I was in the middle of a mountain and couldn’t take the same way back, but also because in my head, I couldn’t not do it. I had to, to prove myself I was strong and in control of my feelings and actions. While we were climbing the famous Ella Rock, known to have the most breathtaking view on top, I reached a point where I literally broke down. The level of hiking difficulty suddenly became too much to bear, but yet again I was so close to the goal. That’s where my mind took over. Had I come so close to the best feeling of being on top of the world, only to stop and go back? Never would I have thought I would continue and get there. But I did, and that’s one of the dearest life lessons I hold on to now. It is actually true that when you feel like giving up, when times become just too tough to bear, the goal is just a few miles away. Never give up, even if you think you can’t move on anymore, the truth is: YOU CAN.

I also learnt to let go of small things and go with the flow, because life is much bigger than the small of you really. I overcame my fears of nature (except cockroaches – go figure) and the unknown and saw how it’s all a matter of mindset.

I learnt about people and different cultures. I saw that people you never even thought of meeting one day would come in your path for a reason, either to show you something or teach you something. I also learnt a lot about my husband, surprising things that made me sure he was the one I could spend the rest of my life with.

Finally, I learnt a lot about myself, what I truly love and what I truly don’t, and about the length I would go to to save something I love or to get it.

And most of all, you learn that life is just: Perspective, perspective, perspective! Switch your perspective and you’ll open the door to complete happiness. I guarantee it 🙂

backpacking | breadonbutter

Have you ever been backpacking? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

This week’s infographic is all about traveling and its benefits. It says that it is not only good for you to discover new things and cultures, but it can also make you live longer by serving your body, mind and spirit as well as relationships.  I completely agree! It goes without saying that travel makes you a more positive and open person, less prone to suffer from depression, more intelligent in the way you live and perceive things. It also allows you to build close ties with friends or family you’re traveling with, as well as possibly discover that your boyfriend/girlfriend is really the one you want to travel with for the rest of your life. Travel has so many positive sides and so many advantages, it’s just the best thing you can ever do!

16-Reasons-Why-Traveling-is-Good-for-You

I’ve been told several times, be it on postcards, in conversations with adults or with strangers I hadn’t met before (the landlord of my old apartment in Exeter for example) that The World is My Oyster. I believe it, people around me believe it but the real question is whether we all really apply it. Are we all really throwing ourselves into what this world has to offer? I guess it truly depends on each of our aspirations in life.

Having said that, meet Max. He’s the author of the blog Drifter’s Guide to The Planet (www.driftersguide.wordpress.com) and I can tell you the world is definitely his oyster. He describes himself as an international Long Term Traveler, a global citizen, an entrepreneur, a life-long learner and a free thinker. He’s realistic and it is in his nature to question absolutely everything.  To find out more about this Globe trotter, here are a few questions I had to ask him and his answers.

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How did the adventure start?

Ever since I could remember, I felt like something major was missing in my life. Something I should be doing, something calling me. I always questioned things, told myself that life MUST mean more and I kept looking for answers. It was this chronic dissatisfaction and I didn’t know what it was until one day, I came to a professional crossroad and went to South East Asia. This opened my eyes. I got in contact with a foreign culture and it felt like we were all really just living in our own bubble with only glimpses of the world of possibilities before us. So that’s when I decided to do it, travel the world, explore cultures and possibilities. It was now possible and legitimate, other people were doing it too and this is what I wanted, to live off the grid and not be programmed to live a routine.

Which steps did you take to be able to start your adventure?

The first step I took was to start off with a lot of research on the subject of living unconventionally. This is when I had to come up with ways to sustain myself financially while on the go. So I got a double Certificate to teach English as well as Business English worldwide to be able to work while traveling. I also used my savings and tried to get projects that I could work on online. I then planned my first trip and became an “activist”, a pro-nonconformity living. It became a mission of mine to influence people, I needed to spread the information I was learning and sharing my experience became a responsibility. There are so many people out there looking for the same experience, wondering about the same things and missing out on the chance to flourish.

What would be your advice to these people?

My advice to them is first to know that it won’t happen with the push of a button. You have to do your own research, look into yourself and what you want, what you have to do. There are important steps that cannot be overlooked. You must save for it or use a money-making scheme like working online, teaching, or volunteering to cut down on costs. You have to find a way to control your own time, find a job where you are not stuck (it exists, just look for it!). Eliminate the mindset of right and wrong, you decide what’s right and what’s wrong. Then decide if this adventure is for you or not. Take a gap year, figure things out and make your own choices. The World is certainly your oyster because possibilities are endless. Be aware and independent in all senses and work on it. Trust your instincts, listen to them and go!

What are some of your goals in life?

I am a life long learner. I believe that goals are only temporary. For now, I am not working for one goal but for a set of of goals that will help me discover myself, life and help other people along the way. I am looking for purpose and enjoying myself along the way, because life is a treasure and travel is the greatest teacher.

How do you describe your experiences and the people you meet along the way?

Most of, if not all of the people I meet, I do in a positive way. I hear positive stories and tell mine. Unconsciously, when travelers meet somewhere distant at a certain time, they realize they’re all connected and looking for the same thing. Those are the ones who travel for purpose. It’s been nothing but positive because that’s how I see it. The people I meet become my closest friends. I interact with them almost on a daily basis.

How do you design your itinerary? 

I start by looking inwards and I instinctively know what my next destination will be. It’s an interest that builds up with time and that’s how you suddenly know. I then make a list of places I want to visit, research (using internet resources, booking sites like kayak.com, expedia.com, booking.com and hostelworld.com), plan the first 2 steps and then improvise while I’m there. I used to be a planning freak but this has diminished with time once I realized I can be flexible.

How do you deal with judgement and criticism, especially in Lebanon?

I was not exactly criticized but misunderstood. Nobody argues on the principle, they argue on the ‘how’. But deep down, they would all do it if they could find a way. As for family, I can’t expect parents, who come from a completely different world and generation to understand. But they ended up making peace with it.

Can you tell us about a specific moment that has touched you?

I can’t of course think of only one wonderful experience but the first thing that comes to mind is a moment I had on my last trip to Argentina. I took a ferry to Isla Victoria and I remember now how amazed I was by nature, wild life and the scenery. I was so touched and felt like I was back in love with planet earth. We tend to forget the amazing things this planet has to show.

Which camera do you use?

My very basic, non professional phone camera. But this might change because I realize more and more the importance of capturing moments like these. It IS true that a picture is worth a 1000 words actually. People will connect to the picture and be influenced better.

Where did you already go?

I went to Thailand, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Turkey, Cyprus, USA and UAE.

Can you name one thing that brings all those countries together?

They are all worth exploring because they’re all different than what we know. They help you learn how to live with different cultures.

What is the strategy you use to learn more about the country you’re visiting?

Nothing is better than meeting locals and staying close to them. Networking is key. Of course I read all about the culture and history of the country as well and learn a bit their language. Once there, the food helps me understand the culture more as well.

Any food you dislike?

Seafood. Shrimp is my Kryptonite. (!)

Max will be leaving for a new adventure on the 3oth of April. This time, he will be exploring Europe, focusing on Eastern Europe, but also UK, Ireland and Scotland, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, and Bilbao.

Hoping to inspire you, always. Thank you so much for sharing Max!

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