About Spartan Traveler
In July 2011 I quit my job and decided to start traveling.
“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one might effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares, and the slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood. Excitement lends unwonted vigor to the muscle, and the sudden sense of freedom adds a cubit to the mental stature….”
– Sir Richard Burton, in Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton
My trip around the world was both a life-long dream and the most important thing I’ve done in the last decade. It was a milestone, and marked what I hoped would be firm departure from the traditional deferred life plan of modern America: working for the sake of making money and waiting until the last third of life to enjoy it.
I wasn’t running away. Or, as Nomadic Matt put it, perhaps I was:
Completely right. I am running away. I am trying to avoid life — your life. I’m running away from your idea of the “real” world. Because, in reality, I’m running towards everything — towards the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom and living. -Nomadic Matt, published on Medium.com
Not that there’s anything wrong with living your life a certain way. It’s just that most of us haven’t been given a chance to evaluate all the options and make the choice for ourselves. It took me years to really get this, but as long as you have a healthy skepticism for social norms there here are an infinite number of options out there for designing your own life plan. But understand that if you don’t define success for yourself the world will do it for you.
The dream isn’t about escaping work either, because there are only so many days you can spend on the beach sipping Mai-tais. It’s not about shirking responsibility or laziness. The dream is to first define all the elements that create a satisfying life and then bake them into a system that works. Some consider the easiest choice–watching life pass you by through an office window–to be the laziest option of all.
Success to me isn’t focused on money or property, it’s the Venn diagram that maximizes the relative worth of the (at least) three currencies available: time, mobility, and cash. Choosing to set out on my own was the first step in joining a large and growing community of lifestyle- and lifestyle-business designers who have understood this for years.
In reality you you can do anything you want–many of the conventions that hold us back fade away on the road–but it can be hard to figure out what the alternatives are until you go for it, and until you meet people who have been there.
By way of example: I’ve been all over the world in the last few years, flown around the globe , had all kinds of unexpected adventures, met amazing people, started a
small online business, and learned more about myself and the meaning of life than I could have through any other avenue.
The craziest part is (at least where travel is concerned) it was all easier and cheaper than I thought. I think the point of this site is that anyone can do what I’m doing, it takes a lot less money than you think, and the best time to do it is right now.
It turns out that living the dream is not only possible, but with the right framework it’s inevitable.
The SpartanTraveler manifesto:
SpartanTraveler is about doing more with less. It’s an ideal: to strip away the inessentials and to try to live life on my own terms. And although it’s largely about travel it’s also about life (and travel as a lifestyle). Reducing lifestyle overhead. Cutting anchors. Tossing baggage. Getting over the material and mental comforts the keep us from living a real, examined life.
Simplicity is the key to brilliance. -Bruce Lee
The Spartan part of the site’s name comes from a (freely admitted) romanticized interpretation of Spartan ethos. Surprisingly, lifestyle-design requires tremendous discipline and hard work. The more you can refine focus and effort, the more you can reduce (not add) things to your life, the closer you will be to this ideal. I also like the idea of smiling while gritting my teeth, of embracing challenge and hardship, and attempting to excel as a human being.
But the site is also about enjoying life, not taking things (or myself) too seriously, and sharing my experiences. I’ve been writing on the internet for a long time (since 2007), but this project is the first where I’ve felt a real degree of personal growth from the process. My own thoughts and theories on everything from lifestyle design to fitness to how you should organize and live your life have evolved in step with the adventure, and this site is one way to process these thoughts in an intelligent way. I hope you like it. If any part of it strikes a nerve with you (or even if it doesn’t), I’d love to hear about it.
Specific topics on SpartanTraveler:
- Travel Blog – This isn’t really a travel blog in the traditional sense. I’m won’t catalogue the particulars of my 258th train-ride through my 87th country, but I’m big on the how-to of ultra-light, ultra-cheap, and often, ‘adventure travel’. Traveling can be a lot more fun with a particular goal in mind, like learning a language, surfing the entire Pacific Coast of North and South America, climbing a mountain, or spending time getting to really know a culture.
- Lifehacking and Travel Advice – Want to know how to fly around the world for (almost) free, find an apartment a major European city for $200/month, get around Visa requirements, or figure out how to budget for long-term travel? I’ll try to cover all of that too.
- Working 2.0 / Lifestyle-Design / and the Lifestyle Business movement – I’m over the 9-5. It’s the 21st century, and I believe it’s time to move on. Since a lot of us work on a computers these days, the future (I think) will be with work arrangements that can harness global talent and focus on results, not time. My philosophy on work is part 4-Hour Work Week, part Vagabonding, part Let My People go Surfing, a lot of Why Work Sucks, and a little bit of Leisure, the Basis of Culture sprinkled in. It’s also based heavily on systems engineering in the same vein as Work the System and the applied evolutionary thinking of The Lean Startup. If you’ve dabbled in internet startups, running your own web company, or you’re interested in any of this, then we have a lot to talk about. If you’re trying to get started, stop reading this blog right now and go buy and actually read the 4-Hour Workweek (I’m serious), then listen to every one of these podcasts: The Lifestyle Business Podcast. You’ll be well on your way…
- Adventure Sports / Training / Sport-specific advice – I think the body is a terrible thing to waste. While I’ve been interested in a lot of different things, from soccer to Kung Fu to surfing, I’m mostly interested in general fitness and human performance, as well as sports that take place in dynamic environments (like surfing and climbing). Anything that immerses you in wilderness is a good start. I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to train for multiple sports at once as well as maintain baseline fitness. I can’t say that I’ve succeeded at all, but I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned along the way. Most of it was summed up in this post: How I broke my body and then fixed it.