ChengDu East Music Park
A racecar track outside of a bar in ChengDu East Music Park.

Travel the World

So you want to travel the world, but you don’t know how? You came to the right place. My blog focuses much on my life and my adventures as I wander around the world, but I want to give back to those out there that need a push to change their lifestyles, but don’t know how.

It’s quite simple actually. Set a goal on a piece of paper and abide by it. You might hate your job, maybe you’re tired of going out each weekend and splurging your money on alcohol, fancy meals and impressing people you don’t care about. Maybe you’re just bored being around the same people. Everything starts with writing down a plan and executing it. I know it sounds stupid, but if you write steps and work towards it, you will eventually change your lifestyle. People are creatures of habit. It takes a while to break habits, so it’s going to take a while to change your lifestyle.

For me, I am spontaneous, but I always have multiple plans for when the worst happens to me. So how did I change my lifestyle from a career-oriented Geotechnical Engineer to a vagabond who chooses to travel the world? I wrote down a list of steps I wanted to complete before jumping into the lifestyle change.

I never enjoyed materialistic gadgets as much as my peers and I did not want materials holding me back from my travels. So to avoid any of the stresses that came along with worrying about my material possessions I sold everything I owned, but the necessities I needed for survival.

What does this mean? It means I sold my car, furniture, and almost everything other than camping gear, a smart phone, laptop and GoPro. Although these aren’t all necessities, when living on the road to travel the world, one must entertain themselves after long days of exploring, backpacking and adventuring. Sometimes a nice relaxing movie comes in handy, maybe writing a blog entry to ease the mind or editing video footage from the GoPro to show friends and family of your travels. The list goes on, but if you want to travel, it’s best to cut ties from your material possessions.

For me I use Goodwill to “rent” clothes. Clothes add weight to your pack. You should only pack the essentials when backpacking and keep your pack to about 30 pounds. I have condensed a list below of the essential items to pack for backpacking while you travel the world and live on the road.

Travel the World by Backpacking


-35 Liter GoLite JAM Backpack
-Clothing: (2) Underwear, (3) Pairs of Smart Wool Socks, (1) Waterproof Ski Pants, (1) Tight Thermals, (1) Base Layer, (1) T-Shirt and (1) Long Sleeve Under Armour Layer, (1) Waterproof Gloves
-GoPro
-Mini Laptop
-Mini Pot
-Flint and Steel
-100′ Paracord
-Dry Bag
-Water Cover for 35 Liter Backpack
-Tarp
-Bivy Sack
-Synthetic Lightweight 35 Degree Sleeping Bag
-2 Liter Water Jug
-Knife
-Plastic Fork and Knife
-Peanut Butter/ Sardines

This video on my YouTube channel goes over what I packed for my recent trip to ChengDu, China. The only other item I want to add to my setup is a jungle hammock:

Travel the World by Bicycle Tour

Bicycle Touring Gear List for Travelers

Guide to Living on the Road out of a Backpack

All of this should fit in your pack. You should carry the water with you since that is the most important necessity you’ll need on the road other than food and you want easy access to it to prevent dehydration. Especially when you are in different countries since you won’t always be around accessible water sources like in the USA.

So now that you have sold all of your possessions, bought the essentials and got your backpack in order what do you do next? Well that’s part of the adventure. For me, I did a bicycle tour from DE to CO. I always wanted to travel across the country by bicycle in college so I bought the TransAmerica Trail maps, got panniers and a rear rack installed on my bicycle and set out for a two-month trip that changed my life.

You can do anything you want though! You sold all of your possessions, and have a stash of cash handy now in case your plans don’t go as expected. In my mind, I don’t like to have expectations so I just go with the flow. If you have a picture painted in your mind and it doesn’t turn out the way you expected than any trip you take will always be a failure because nothing ever goes as planned. It’s best to learn on the go from my experience. Research a bit beforehand, but don’t be afraid to do something because of a language barrier or being unfamiliar with the area. Don’t plan every little detail of your trip from a guide and use resources like Lonely Planet’s travel guides as guidelines for your adventure. Never base your whole trip off of them. They’ll take you to all the tourist attractions where food is more expensive, people try to rip you off and you won’t experience the culture nearly as much as if you just took the path less traveled.

So how can you cut down on transportation costs? Taxi’s, metro, and buses begin to add up even if they are cheap and you’re splitting the costs with other travelers. The best way to get around is hitchhiking if you have a really tight budget. Draw pictures, buy picture books specific to the area you’re traveling in or find a native speaker to write your destination on paper to hand to driver’s. Be creative and you’ll not only meet great people, but travel the world at the same time on the cheap. Use sites like Hitch Wiki to see how easy it is to hitchhike in a given country. Use the resources on this site to figure out how to spell your travel destinations in the native language of that particular country. Hitch Wiki also has two mobile applications that you can download for your smart phone, which you can grab on the Google Playstore.

Another great site to check out and read before you set out on your adventures is StP – Squat the Planet. They have great information on hitchhiking, freight train hopping, backpacking, etc. If you haven’t checked them out sign up at Squat the Planet. You will see me posting there a lot under the alias JungleGreenCleeds. I love StP. It’s a great environment for any kind of traveler. Whether you busk, panhandle, leather tramp, bicycle tour, sailboat around the world, canoe, hitchhike, train hop, vagabond, they don’t care and accept you no matter what. It’s a great place to learn about traveling, the hardships of living on the road and the inspirational stories of the lives of fellow travelers. The places they’ve traveled, and lived and the stories that came along with it. StP gave me the final push to change my lifestyle after much reading back in 2013.

For me, before I set out on my bicycle tour, I saved up much money over the three years of working as both an accountant and engineer. So for you, I would suggest do the same. Whatever your career or job, just save your money. If you know you want to travel, but don’t have the funds, then start saving your money little by little. Don’t spend your money lavishly. Live a frivolous lifestyle and be a minimalist. In order to travel the world you must make sacrifices. Don’t spend all your money at the bar on the weekend. Don’t buy a new big screen television, game system, or other materials for your bachelor pad. Try to put the money you’d normally spend each month on these items into a savings account. When you reach your goal for your budget try to save a little more in case of an emergency. It’s always a great idea to prepare for the worst.

Start looking for cheap flights to places you want to travel and book a ticket at least two to three months in advance. Look for deals going on with international airlines and if you travel abroad look for deals with Air Asia or other airlines. Normally, if you stick with the same airline while traveling abroad you get better deals on tickets.

Once you saved up enough money to travel and booked a ticket to your dream country what should you do? I would try to avoid the tourist attractions. This is where countries sucker in the tourists and raise the prices of food and gifts to get more money than you will want to spend. Some attractions are worth seeing, but research a bit in advance for a few places you definitely want to visit. See if there are entrance fees or if it is free to walk around inside these attractions. If they are free then check them out and learn about the culture and history. Just buy food after visiting the tourist attractions or bring food with you. You will save much money by buying foods from the grocery store, but sometimes this isn’t always plausible and you can still get cheap food from vendors on the streets.

Now that you’re backpacking and traveling how can you find work to extend your travels? Well, this is always a tough predicament that I met on many of my travels. If you are traveling in the USA and you are a citizen it is relatively easy to find any kind of work if you have a college degree. If you live minimally you don’t need to make much money to save money. Eat a lot of foods from the grocery store; limit going out to the bar; post an ad on Craigslist to rent someone’s couch month to month for cheap; work overtime when you can; work seasonal jobs.

For me I lived in Colorado at the end of my bicycle tour and worked as a ski technician. The pay sucked, but I got a lot of overtime, lived in cheap housing with three other guys and skied over 60 days that winter for free. If you travel at times when the economy needs workers then you will always find work. Alaska is always hiring people to work in their canneries. Any state with mountains is always hiring around October or November for the upcoming ski and snowboard season. Drop Zones are always looking for parachute packers and will teach you how to pack if you are willing to live on-site.

All of these opportunities are yours if you’re willing to do any type of work to fund your travels. I worked at a drop zone last summer and got to skydive while I saved up a lot of money for my recent trip to ChengDu, China. The list of possibilities is endless. Seasonal jobs are always available to travelers and so are bar and restaurant jobs.

If you want to use your degree and travel abroad you can always teach English to non-native speakers. I know in ChengDu it is relatively easy to get a teaching job. I walked down to Meten and Hampson Learning Centers and they pretty much begged me to work for them. Full time work for teaching is about 20 hours a week. Normally they have year-long contracts and you work every week. It gives you time to travel around and explore the city you live in, but it does not give you much room to travel outside of the area you are living. This is why I have not accepted any English teaching positions. I budgeted my money to travel ChengDu and Thailand and I don’t want a teaching job to interfere with my travels since that is why I am here. You might want this though. A lot of teaching jobs pay better overseas and you get to experience a new culture and explore a new country.

Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe to learn more about teaching English in foreign countries like Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, China, etc. If you are interested in finding work in ChengDu, China, you can check out Go ChengDoo for job postings. Most of them are looking for a bachelor’s degree and prior experience teaching English to ESL students, but you can always supplement this with online certifications such as, TESOL, TEFL, ESL, ELL, EFL, etc. The courses are fairly cheap and show you how to teach ESL students who don’t know your language. I’d recommend them and wish I took one before I went abroad as it would have helped me get a part time job.

People have asked me is it better to get a tourist visa and switch over to a work visa once you’re in the country or get a work visa before leaving the states? It depends on your goals. For me I got a tourist visa to travel to China. I wanted to teach English in the back of my mind, but my main driving force for being here is to travel the world. Getting a work visa is harder unless you already have an agency interested in you working for them. So because I did not have an agency interested in me I applied for a tourist visa. I figured once I was here I could get the agency to cover the costs of changing me over to a work visa. The problem is most of the agency’s will only pay to transfer your visa from tourist to work if you work full-time and for at least a year contract, which is not what I wanted. Keep this in mind. However, you can find part-time work if you are willing to pay to change your visa from tourist to work. It’s all a matter of what you are willing to do.

I would rather work my ass off for five months packing parachutes at a drop zone, which pays for my living expenses and then travel the rest of the year, then work the year and be confined to one city in one country. The only expense I must pay are my student loans and food bill each month. You can also work abroad and teach English and save enough money over the year to backpack for a few months. It all depends on what you want as a person. What your goals are and what you are willing to do to travel the world? I cannot figure this out for you. You must figure it out for yourself, but that is part of the adventure, so don’t be afraid of what lies ahead, embrace it! I hope this post helped you all out with your future endeavors and you too will travel the world one day like I am doing now.