On October 1, 2011, I left behind my life in New York City to travel around the world for one year. That one year quickly became two years, then three, and so on.
I’m still traveling regularly and plan to do so for as long as possible. This page summarizes the places I’ve visited, things I’ve done, and a few (useless) stats in the past 10+ years.
SO FAR I’VE BEEN:
10+ years on the road!
WHERE I’VE BEEN?
Below is a map of the countries I’ve visited so far. All the countries in blue were visited during the Round the World (RTW); the countries in green I visited before the RTW, and the countries in red I’m expecting to visit in the near future.
Where I've Been
HOURS IN THE AIR
Every flight, bus, ferry, and car ride I’ve taken in the last ten years on the road.
PROGRESS VISITING EVERY U.N. RECOGNIZED NATION
A FEW EXTRA STATS!
- 130 countries visited on the RTW (Total of 152 countries and territories visited, but only 139 UN Recognized)
- 12 missed flights
- 87 overnight or long-distance train and buses
- 4 overnight ferries
- 3 road trips
- 1 night on a cruise
- 9 sunglasses lost or broken
- 5 consecutive days… Longest run without showering. (Mongol Rally)
- 2 backpacks replaced
- 3 “illegal” border crossings. (Guatemala, Namibia, Paraguay)
- 1 iPod stolen
- 2 iPhone 5 stolen (ouch!)
- 1 drowned iPhone 6s (sigh…)
- 3 hospital visits (Italy, Brazil, Thailand)
- 2 times mugged (1 at knifepoint, 1 at gunpoint)
- Highest point: Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Lowest point: Dead Sea, Israel
- Northernmost point: Hornbjarg, Iceland
- Southernmost point: Ushuaia, Argentina
- Most countries in one day: 5 (U.K., France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany… during the Mongol Rally)
- Cheapest country: India
- Most expensive country: Iceland
- Favorite destinations: Jordan, Belize, Tanzania, Iceland, New Zealand, Thailand
- Least favorite destinations: India, Ukraine, Slovenia
- Money spent in three years of travel: $60,761 Read this post on how I did it.
Stats last updated: July 18, 2021
SOME OF MY FAVORITE EXPERIENCES…
- Hiked to the top of Kilimanjaro
- Adopted an Elephant!
- Fell in love with Zanzibar
- Also fell in love with Caye Caulker
- Walked with LIONS and CHEETAHS!!
- Saw a real Maya skeleton inside a cave in Belize
- Went diving in the Blue Hole
- Slept at a Bedouin camp at Wadi Rum
- Visited Petra at Night
- Went to Hell… mwahaha
- Saw the sunrise at Angkor Wat
- Celebrated my birthday surrounded by dead people
- Went jumping off swing ropes with the Maasai
- Enjoyed the thin beaches at Koh Nang Yuan
- Was somehow “rescued” from my misery in Uganda
- Did a road trip across the Himalayas!!
- Got assaulted at knifepoint in Fes, Morocco
- Got held at gunpoint in Kyrgyzstan
- Did the Mongol Rally!
- Had a car accident in Russia
- Got lost in the Gobi Desert
- Was beyond impressed by Bagan, Myanmar
- Reached the milestone of 1,000 days traveling!
- Went to Easter Island!
- Went to Galapagos!
- Survived Death Road
- and much more I’m still looking forward to writing…
10 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT RTW TRAVEL
As my trip progresses and I share my stories on the blog, I often get people asking me about my journey and how am I able to do this Round the world trip. Well, here are the 10 most common Q&A:
I see this as a “three main steps” process – or at least, that’s how it worked for me.
First is the “why.” Why do you want to make this trip? Think about what appeals to you and what you think you want to gain in life through this trip. Do you want to gain knowledge, culture, friends, religious development, etc.? It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it has to be true to what you really want. I elaborate more about this in this post.
Then comes the “where.” Decide where to go based on your travel “goal” established in your “why.” Do you want to “eat the world?” Countries like Italy, Jordan, Vietnam, and others are good options. Want adventure? Other countries might be more appealing. Spirituality? India is high on the list, but not the only one. You get the point. Do your research to find those destinations that will appeal to you based on what you want.
Then you can start budgeting the trip. I did a post on this where I listed the most important things to budget on a trip. Also, you could work the budget after the “why” and select destinations with the budget in mind.
If you’re interested in a much more in-depth answer with more tips on how to plan a round the world trip and live like a nomad, I wrote an entire ebook detailing how I and many other travelers manage to make a living while traveling the world.
I definitely don’t have an endless supply of money, but I do my best to keep my costs lower than my income, or at least around the same range, by Couchsurfing, staying at hostels, using public transportation, and such.
While living in New York City, I purged my regular/daily spending to save as much as possible to travel. At one point, I was saving $1000 per month by following a few simple tips. That’s how I lived my last year there. Of course, it was a sacrifice then, but now I’m enjoying it all!
Also, I did spend a lot of time working on the blog to try to use it as a source of income while on the road. Over time, the money I generate through the blog has become more passive since the more content I create, the more opportunities I have to earn money. This is the goal of any digital nomad, to have passive income coming in regularly. (Here, I share how you can start your own travel blog.)
Additionally, there’s the important aspect of earning a passive income out of the money you currently have. For the last few years, I’ve played and invested in cryptocurrency, which has catapulted my travel funds substantially.
Even more, I have my crypto and stable coins invested in platforms like Midas Investments, where they are earning up to 17% APY, which is ridiculously much higher than the average savings account.
Of course, crypto assets are much riskier, but the earning potential has been more than worth the risk. Life changer!
I wrote a post on how exactly I manage and earn money while on the road.
Well, on traveling solo, the most important thing you need to have is an attitude toward the fact that you are traveling on your own, but that you’re not alone.
The best way to do that is by being open to meeting new people and flexible enough to go with the flow. Sometimes I like to have a familiar face around, and it helps a lot. That’s why; I often pair with old friends or meet new ones on the road and travel together for some time.
I like to keep myself busy by doing things I really want to do, which makes me happy. Now a day, thanks to technology and social media, it is really easy to stay in touch with family and friends. The important thing is to know that you don’t need to have that company to enjoy your travels. I recommend reading this post on dealing with loneliness on the road.
I started my blog back in 2010 without any blogging knowledge. I have no background in journalism or anything related, but I love to learn on the go with trial and error. I wrote a post that can help you streamline the blog startup process if you’re interested in travel blogging as a means to help you travel more and have location independence.
Eventually, I took a few courses, like the MatadorU course and Superstar Blogging, among others, to help me improve my blog and develop it in a way I could monetize it.
It is one of the best decisions I’ve taken regarding my blog. Through them, I got better connected with travel industry folks and got some good contacts for my trip.
I recommend, if you’re really interested in starting a blog… to just do it! Start your blog, and try to find a niche you’re either really interested in or good at. Usually, blogs that have a clear focus and a great personality are the ones that do the best.
You don’t need to worry about being a great writer (I’m not one either); you just have to know to which audience you’re writing for and deliver the best content you can. And just be yourself!
Eventually, when the blog has a decent following, you will be able to monetize it. (If that’s something that interests you)
Even with my blog, I pay for most of my travels. The blog helps a lot, though, by subsidizing them with the money earned through advertising, content writing, commissions, and collaborations with companies and tourism boards.
Safety is a serious concern and is one that you should be well aware of when traveling on your own.
As you mentioned, being a guy makes it somewhat easier to “be around” in many countries. It’s easier for a woman to receive sexually harassing comments and to be approached in an unwanted way than it is for a guy. But it still happens for all genders.
From my experience, when it comes to those types of approaches, you need to be well aware of your surroundings and learn how to ignore them and move forward. It is better to avoid than to confront people in those types of situations.
In other types of safety issues, I always say to use your common sense and best judgment. For example, if there’s a dark alley, don’t go through it alone. If people around look un-trusty, move away from them. Always trust your instincts. Always!
When possible, try to blend in with the crowd to not bring attention to yourself. For example, in Arab countries, cover your shoulders and hair with a scarf or any other light fabric. While you might still look like a foreigner, the fact that you are respecting their culture means a lot and brings less attention to yourself.
And, always, always keep an eye on your stuff… you don’t want to leave things unattended in public and lose them.
I give a few more tips in this post, but I would recommend you check out a few blogs that can help much more than I can in terms of safety and experiences as solo female travelers. These are adventurouskate.com, dangerous-business.com, and legalnomads.com.
This is a question I often get and one that requires a really extensive response. For this reason, I dedicated an entire post just to answer these questions and show what you must know to select the correct travel insurance.
Well, to be honest, it is quite hard to do both things simultaneously (travel and architecture). For a few years, when I worked at a firm, I compromised some of my “social time,” working extra hours to accrue some extra vacation days to extend my short trips. But, of course, that only gave me so many extra days to travel per year.
Eventually, with the blog running and generating some income, I decided to quit the firm to travel long-term. But, before doing that, since I knew architecture employers were not that open-minded with sabbaticals and remote employees (in the pre-Covid era), I made sure to identify myself as an architect on my blog and the “blogosphere.” There are a lot of travel bloggers out there, but not many architects/travel bloggers.
While I wanted to travel long-term, I didn’t want to distance myself completely from architecture, even if it meant “practicing” it differently. So, exposing myself as an architect on my blog allowed me to present myself as an “expert” in the field to many travel companies and tourism boards that would like to focus their tourism campaigns on architecture.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Belize, Norway, Eurail, Holland, Jordan, and a few more, as a travel blogger who is focused on writing about their architecture. Apart from that, I do some small architecture side jobs on my own that I consider I can dedicate my time to work on.
It’s true that you might not want to have a travel blog, but you could think of yourself as a freelancer, or architectural consultant for companies abroad or tap into another branch of the industry that can permit you to travel.
In reality, there is no secret way to make it happen. I just had to “sacrifice” traditional firm work (but did it happily) for a more non-traditional approach to using my architectural knowledge.
I too love architecture, and I know I’ll be back at a firm eventually, but for now, working as a freelance architect and on my blog is doing just fine.
PS. Fast forward to the post-pandemic world, and now more employers are more comfortable with remote workers. Now, more than ever, it is easier to make a living from pretty much anywhere in the world.
On the “before,” I’ve somewhat answered it on #1 from the planning perspective, on #2 from the economical, and on #7 from the professional.
On the after, since I’m on the road I have not experienced this yet, but I recommend these posts from Meet, Plan, Go, a site for people planning their career breaks. Easing your Re-Entry, and Getting Back to Reality and Resumes.
I also recommend being proactive a few months before coming home by sending your updated resume to companies of your interest; that way, you might have the chance to settle back quicker.
Well, I sort of experienced the “after,” due to Covid-19 halting all travel during part of 2020. Thankfully I was in NYC when that happened, so I proactively used my spare time not spent traveling on looking for other ways to create income (because the travel industry was severely affected during Covid).
This not only helped me stay afloat financially (through architectural gigs and other side hustles), but it also kept me busy not to feel the common “depression” many long-term travelers get when they return.
I did not allow myself to think my life was boring when I wasn’t traveling. On the contrary, I kept working and scheming to create new experiences and opportunities – whatever they may be.
In terms of finding a place to base myself; at the time, I was renting a small room a la Airbnb, but slowly looked for a month-by-month rental that would allow me to dip my feet into the “settled life” in NYC while still giving me the flexibility of moving if needed (to travel), or finding something more permanent.
With over 139 countries visited, it is really hard to pick a favorite. Some countries stood out more than others for various reasons, but if I had to narrow it down to my top 10 countries, these would be (in no particular order):
- Belize – Great cultural diversity, ancient Mayan ruins, and superb diving! And it’s not overexposed.
- Peru – Machu Picchu, llamas, and yummy roasted chicken… enough said!
- Thailand – From ancient temples to parties, to ladyboys… Thailand is just a high dose of craziness.
- Tanzania – Locals can be a bit pushy, but the sights, outdoor adventures, safaris, and things to do are amazing… and there’s Zanzibar!
- Jordan – Great food, history, and Petra! What else do you need?
- Iceland – It’s gorgeous! There’s no other place as beautiful and surreal as Iceland.
- Iran – Stunning architectural and archeological sites, and I’m not kidding when I say they are the friendliest people on earth.
- New Zealand – Almost as beautiful as Iceland, but with a lot more outdoor and extreme adventures! This is the birthplace of modern bungee jumping.
- Seychelles – It has the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen anywhere on earth.
- Brazil – Happy people who love to party. Plus great history, outdoor experiences, and Rio de Janeiro!
This trip has made an impact on my life, for sure. It is not one of those drastic “epiphany-like” changes but the accumulation of a lot of small realizations.
The things I’ve learned, not only about life but also about cultures and the way people act and live in different countries have influenced me in my way of acting and living too.
I’ve become more confident in managing my life. While traveling, everything depends on me, so if I want to do or have something, I need to make it happen.
And on the road (like with almost in life), there can be a lot of mishaps, so flexibility has been key. There’s always more than one way to get from “A” to “B”; you just have to be creative and proactive.
I think I’ve learned to differentiate better between the “issues” that really matter and the ones that are not worth my attention (that before, I could have drowned thinking about them).
And finally, life is so much simpler when you live out of a backpack!