I awoke late. My restless night hadn’t afforded me much chance for good sleep, so when I’d finally drifted off to sleep, mortified, I hadn’t wanted to wake up.
A perfect sunbeam from the bedside window hit me square in the face, and my memory of last night came rushing back to me. It was far too vivid to have been a dream. I opened my eyes and glanced out the window.
It was an amazing bluebird morning, only small wisps of clouds to be seen. The sky was an almost ethereal blue color: so perfect it almost didn’t seem real. Behind the nearby mountains, a huge snow-capped peak showed its face. I sat up and stared in wonder. Although only a tiny portion was visible, the mountain looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.
That’s what I came here for, I thought.
2016 was a busy year for me. And beyond the calendar year, the last 18 months have taken me to 20 countries—that’s a lot of travel! It’s gotten to the point where my friends at home just automatically assume I’m abroad. When we do happen to cross paths, their first question is inevitably: where next?
The life of a digital nomad is enviable, in a lot of ways. Everyone I meet is curious about how I do it, what my advice is. Here, in no particular order, are 20 lessons I learned from visiting 20 countries:
Airplane Tickets Are Cheaper than You Think
When I took my first trip, I paid something like $800 for a one-way ticket from Denver to Thailand. Now, years later, I would never pay that much for a plane ticket—and definitely not a one-way ticket. If you’re paying attention to deals, you can pretty easily get a roundtrip ticket for less than that.
And travel from the U.S. to Europe?
Yesterday, I posted a story about shitting myself in Nepal. I’ve had this story in my back pocket for about a year now. It’s not the most flattering story, to be honest. I’ve never written about it. If you’re good friends with me, maybe you’ve heard it over a few beers.
The last time I remember telling this story, it was election day. I was in Budapest, drunk out of my mind. I told it to my climbing partner, a man I’ve known a long time and have a deep bond of trust with, and a person I’d just met that night at the hostel. “Maybe you don’t share that one on your blog,” my friend said when I finished the story, and the laughter had abated. “See, that’s the sort of stuff I love to hear!” the other guy said. “I don’t fucking care if you went to this city and drank these beers and took these pictures. That’s not real. Stories like that are what I want to hear when people tell travel stories.”
I slept fitfully in Ulleri—my stomach was bothering me. I kept waking, in starts, to my stomach bubbling, or gas escaping.
It was cold outside—we were in a trekking lodge in an elevated mountain village, after all—and I didn’t much want to get out of bed. I was cocooned in a cheap sleeping bag I’d rented in Pokhara, but it was cozy enough, especially after an exhaustive day of trekking. I wasn’t going to leave until I had to.
Every time I woke up, I’d have a little swig of water, and try to go back to bed. By the third or fourth time it happened, it was getting exasperating. I really wanted to get some rest, especially if tomorrow was going to be as strenuous as our first day had been.
The fifth time I awoke, I immediately knew something was different.
Did that—I paused, moved around a bit. Yup, I thought to myself. That just happened.
I had, without a doubt, just shit my pants.
I was awoken after what seemed like three minutes.
Our guide had barged into our room. We were staying in a trekking lodge in Ulleri, also known as a “teahouse.” We’d been enjoying a well-earned nap after a tough first day of trekking. “Dinnertime,” our guide said cheerfully.
I shook the sleep from my eyes and glanced across the tiny room. My Malaysian trekking partner had apparently been taking a nap too, because he looked just as confused as I felt.