In less than a week I will leave on what is to be a year-long journey around the world. Along the way I’ll pass through more than fifteen countries on five continents and travel roughly 60 000 km. I’ll start in Lisbon and plan to end up in Rio de Janeiro by the summer of next year. So you could say it’s a rather big trip.
I’m going on my own, because I love traveling solo. And because I have no friends. No friends who are crazy or naïve enough to drop everything and join me on this ride. Which is quite understandable, as I have occasionally been questioning my sanity myself off late. As much as I am privileged and grateful to even be able to do this, it’s not an obvious decision to make. Trading a stable and comfortable sedentary life for an always-evolving nomadic one is not in any way effortless, whatever anyone may say. Quitting a job, leaving family and friends and the comfort of a place you know well is only the beginning. Doing all of this by yourself adds an even greater feeling of deliberate separation.
On the other hand, we all know (some more than others) that just because a certain idea is not sane does not necessarily mean it can’t be a good one. I believe that traveling is one of the best ways to spend one’s time and resources, whether it’s alone or with others. It’s about much more than just visiting a place that’s not home or seeing a pretty sight or eating different food. By changing your environment and constantly interacting with and adapting to the new world around you, you learn an incredible amount about who you are with respect to it and ultimately change yourself in many quite meaningful ways.
In my view, this sensation is much more significant when traveling alone. Without the companionship of a travel partner everything is completely up to you. What to see, where to go and who to meet is not subject to any debate or compromise, and in that sense you are completely free. That of course also means that you can’t rely on the other’s initiative or input which requires you to actively engage and make decisions pretty much constantly. Responsibility for anything you choose rests solely on your shoulders, which can at times be a burden or a blessing, and if you can’t drive yourself to stay proactive it is easy to become lonely. And being alone is definitely part of solo travel. It’s the ability to distinguish solitude from loneliness, and being comfortable with it that makes all the difference. I believe that the capacity to unconcernedly be by oneself is just as important as accomplished social interaction, perhaps even more so. If you can live with this boundless and uncompromising freedom then traveling alone is the greatest thing you can do.
If all this seems like common sense to you, that’s probably because it is. Or at least it should be. I’m not pretending to be very knowledgeable about all of this, nor do I mean to appear wise. Nobody has ever been wise at 27. But I can honestly say that some of the most valuable things I’ve learnt so far in life have come from being exposed to never-ending and ever-changing surroundings.
I’ll be gone a long time, so I’m not going to rush things. Because I don’t need to and because I really don’t want to. Much of the joy and satisfaction of a journey arises out of its unpredictability. The longer you’re able to travel the less you really need to care about how much time you want to spend somewhere. You can get inspired by places you didn’t even know about in advance, and change your plans whenever you feel like. For my part, there are some countries I’ll probably spend a month or more in and others that I’ll just briefly pass through, but who knows what might happen along the way.
As for my luggage, I won’t bring much, since the lighter you are the higher you’re able to fly. And I mean to fly high. I’ll be sad to leave my violin at home but instead I’m bringing a tiny ukulele (aptly named Duke the Uke). I will attempt to learn to play it properly, we’ll see how that goes. I am also planning to read a lot, and since I hate e-readers I’ll be bringing a 900-page, 900 gram Murakami monstrosity along to start. Apart from those, my packing list really isn’t that interesting so we’ll leave it at that.
By now you might be wondering what the purpose of this website is, and why it has such a pretentious name. Well as far as the name is concerned I just couldn’t resist. It’s not every day you have an excuse for creating an “andtheworld.com” domain. And it sounds goddamn awesome. However, that is and will remain the only (overly) pretentious element here. Over the course of the next year I want to use this page to tell some stories and share some experiences. Sometimes when I feel like I have something meaningful to say, but mostly just to talk about monkeys or pineapples, or both. I won’t write about how you should ditch you desk for your dreams, or seize the day, or yolo, or any of that stuff. There are plenty of people out there doing that already who are much better at it than I. I will write about what I see, hear, feel, taste and smell around me and how I see the world that day. After all that’s the title.
If that interests you then stick around for more. Or follow me on Instagram. There is no comment section, but you can always send me a personal message. On the Naim page you can read some more about me, and The World contains an overview of all stories, either chronologically or with a neat world map.
And that’s it, six days and then I’m off. To Portugal for two weeks, and then continuing through Spain to Morocco and Egypt in the first part of this epic adventure.
Let’s see what happens.
August 25th, 2016