In 1999, Earl Baron of WanderingEarl.com left for a three month trip to Southeast Asia. Three days into it, the travel bug bit and he found himself unable to even think about going home. 11 years and 67 countries later, Earl is still wandering the globe. He recently talked to us about his nomadic lifestyle, the three items that will always be in his backpack and offers advice to anyone looking to become a fellow wanderer.
Jazz Hostels: Your travels began with a planned 3 month trip to Southeast Asia and have turned in an 11 year journey that you are still on. What made you want to continue traveling?
Earl: Prior to that first trip, I had really never been exposed to much of the world outside of the USA. And as soon as I landed in Thailand, I discovered that there was so much interesting knowledge for me to soak up. It seemed that every day I was traveling, I was learning more about life and about myself than I ever thought possible. As a result, I became addicted to that first-hand education that travel provides and I suddenly couldn’t imagine a life that did not involve such life-changing experiences.
Jazz Hostels: Once you decided to not return home, did you come up with a plan on how much longer to continue traveling and how to continue traveling, or did you just make decisions as they needed to be made?
Earl: In the beginning, I had no plan whatsoever. All I had was $1500 USD in my bank account and a strong desire to travel for an indefinite amount of time. I just decided to keep my eyes open and to speak with as many other long-term travelers as I could find in order to learn about different ways to survive on the road. And so for a few years I simply went with the flow, taking advantage of various jobs and opportunities that I discovered, all of which bought me time to try and figure out a better plan to create the lifestyle I now desired.
Jazz Hostels: What kinds of jobs have you done in the years you’ve been traveling?
Earl: I spent some time in Chiang Mai, Thailand teaching conversational English to university students in an informal setting (not through a school or language institute). I also worked on board cruise ships as a Tour Manager, did some travel writing and started a small tour operation on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. And now, I work mainly on my blog and other online projects such as writing and selling various travel-related eBooks.
Jazz Hostels: You’ve commented on your blog that all your possessions fit into a backpack. What items do you find essential and will always have space in your backpack?
Earl: Three items that I always have with me are my sarong (quite a multi-purpose piece of cloth), a box of incense (light up one stick and even the nastiest of budget hotel rooms becomes somewhat tolerable!) and of course, my trusty laptop.
Jazz Hostels: How long do you typically stay in one place before moving on?
Earl: In my earlier travel years, I would constantly be on the go, rarely staying for more than a week or two in one particular place. Now I tend to travel much more slowly, typically spending at least one month in most destinations. I’ve also begun taking 4 months or so out of each year to stop traveling and just live in one new location (preferably by the beach!) so that I can catch up with work, make progress with some new projects and more fully integrate myself into a particular community.
Jazz Hostels: You’ve spent an extended period of time in each of 67 countries. Do you plan on visiting the remaining 127 or so or are you just traveling to wherever you are drawn?
Earl: Visiting the remaining 127 countries is definitely a goal of mine, although I don’t base my travels around that goal. These days, I prefer to mix up my adventures with visits to places I’ve yet to explore as well as some places that I’m already familiar with and always look forward to visiting again. As an example, I can hardly let a year go by without visiting India, despite having already spent over 2 years in that country!
Jazz Hostels: What advice do you have for people who are starting out, or would like to live, a nomadic lifestyle?
Earl: Set a date right now, book a flight and make the decision to go for it! The longer one delays, the harder it is to begin living this kind of lifestyle. As difficult as it can be to convince yourself to quit a job, sell a house or simply take off into the unknown with only a little money in your bank account, if extensive travel is something you truly want to be a part of your life, you need to take that first step. Once you do take that first step, you’ll discover a world of opportunities out there that you never even knew existed, all of which will help you achieve a rewarding nomadic lifestyle.
[guestinterviewfooter interviewee=”Earl Baron”]Earl is a permanent nomad addicted to the first-hand education gained through world travel. He writes about his adventures over at WanderingEarl.com where the focus is not so much on the places he visits, but on the human interactions and lessons he learns along the way.[/guestinterviewfooter]