What is travel?!?

Hanging on the beach

I woke as the first rays of sunshine began to illuminate the morning sky. Of course, the squawking roosters and barking dogs greatly assisted the process. Turning to my travel buddy Kevin, I saw that he was also waking, so we packed up our sleeping bags and got off the rooftop of the town jail. Neither of us had realized the purpose of the building when we picked it to sleep on the night before; we had other things to worry about at the time. Our previous night was epic; while we were checking out the town, Cathy had unintentionally thrown burning fuel on Sterling, severely burning his neck and shoulders (Juicy details here). Cathy and Sterling, the mother-son duo we had been riding with for the last two weeks were not early risers, so Kevin and I sat in the plaza with the town chickens for a few hours and reflected on the recent events of our trip. We weren’t hung over, and alcohol, drugs, and blacking out played no part in the story. This was adventure travel.

Hanging on the beach
Kevin and I on a beach in El Salvador

When we set out from Las Vegas on an epic journey to Argentine Patagonia by land or sea, we knew it would not be your typical vacation travel package. There were no luxury hotel resorts, all-you-can-eat buffets, cabana boys, hot bartenders or Swedish massages. We weren’t going on eco-tours, yoga retreats, or deep-sea fishing trips. In fact, we had not paid for a single night’s stay in any establishment. We’d slept in gas station parking lots, a town plaza, an abandoned restaurant patio, normal beaches, and a beach with crocodiles. This was the opposite of an all-inclusive package trip. Nothing was purchased in advanced. Nothing was guaranteed. Since we had chosen to hitchhike, all we had was a rough idea of what route we wanted to travel, and no certainty in regard to how far or how fast we would be going.

Spoiler alert; we made it to our destination in Argentina in less than two months. We had a great time and I stayed in South America for another six months. It was easily the most amazing experience of my life and has reshaped my perspective on, well, everything. What is the point? Most people have a certain perception of travel. They believe it has to be expensive, and well planned out and that deviating from this is dangerous and potentially catastrophic. Kevin did the entire voyage with around $2,000 hidden under the insoles of his shoes. Cathy and Sterling bought an 80’s Toyota RV and drove all the way to Panama City, Panama. They weren’t fluent Spanish speakers. They had no experience driving in Central America or crossing international borders with a vehicle. They took some wrong turns, bribed some cops, hit a dog, traffic cone, and car, and had issues with their debit/credit card. They definitely went into their trip with some unknowns and some challenges, but I guarantee that, like me, they had an amazing adventure that they will relive and retell for the rest of their lives.

Everybody wants to travel. The determining factor on whether you do or not has nothing to do with money. How much you travel is dictated by whether or not your sense of adventure is greater than your fear of the unknown. Every external barrier has a solution, work around, or alternative, but your internal fears and inhibitions can and will prevent you from having an experience of a lifetime. I want to explore some cheap alternatives to the all-inclusive travel option and propose that these alternatives will not only make your trip cheaper, but turn it into an adventure of a lifetime.

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