They’re the unicorns of our Facebook feeds–the vagabonds that visit Angkor Wat one week and trek Machu Picchu the next. They’re the folks we jealously write off as trust fund babies. They’ve abandoned nine to five living, stopped keeping up with the Jones’ and defined their own version of success.
For those who dream of chucking those TPS reports to the sky, here are four twenty-somethings to inspire you. Average Janes and Joes who sidestepped the rat race and found fulfillment in the road less traveled. You’ll hear about the ah-ha moments that changed everything, and how they continue to sustain themselves, while manifesting their dreams.
Part 3: “Mom, I’m moving to Alaska.”
Enter Evan Ware. A blond, built, six-foot something San Diego State graduate who grew up in Davis, a farm-happy, hippie town in Northern California. I’ve watched this 28 year-old explore the planet via Facebook: walking 25 miles on Santa Cruz’s Skyline to Sea Trail; backpacking through South America; and most recently bidding farewell Silicon Valley for an Alaskan summer in Fairbanks.
That’s just the short list. This guy has got adventure accolades for days. His non-stop travel makes me wonder how the heck he affords it. The truth is Evan doesn’t have a secret. (Besides flyer miles, which will get to later.) He’s just driven as hell–not driven to build the next tech company, or buy the latest BMW 3 series. He’s driven by the finite reality of time.
“What a lie it is to postpone personal gratification–freedom, traveling, following your passions–from the years you are most able-bodied, adventurous, energetic, and attractive. The prime time of your life is now and you’re never going to get it back,” says Evan.
The full-time traveler’s adventures began after studying abroad in Scotland. Instead of returning to SDSU, he traveled from Berlin to Cairo over break and continued studying in China. Years later after backpacking through South America Evan found himself in the Bay Area, wanting a taste of Silicon Valley.
Inspired by the go-getters moonlighting entrepreneurial projects, Evan launched his own digital marketing business. He garnered a client base, worked from cafes, and started his own networking event called SVEN, where fellow hustlers discussed the virtues and philosophy of entrepreneurship. Despite the hefty checks, he soon loathed work. Stress peaked. Energy depleted, and he kept thinking ‘I just need to do this for 40 more years. Then, I can retire.’
“There was so much pressure when I was living in the Silicon Valley to ‘become successful’…to become the next Mark Zuckerberg,” says Evan. “Most of the kids pursuing this pipe dream have no idea they’re spending their youth and sanity buying a lottery ticket to massive wealth only to find they’re trapped in the behemoth business they’ve created, or the high paying job they got. Truth is the only finite thing we have is time, the question is how are you going to use it?”
Evan packed up and flew to Alaska to visit a friend in Fairbanks. He took on construction jobs that offered room, board and decent pay in exchange for working like an indentured servant for 12 hours a day. After saving up a chunk of funds, he set out for Africa to pursue the Amani Institute’s postgraduate certificate in social innovation management. These days you can find him in Nairobi, Kenya following his own advice.
“Life’s short, and you’re not sitting on your death bed thinking damn, I’m glad I put in those 80 hour weeks,” says Evan. “At that point you’re looking back to the connections you made, the exciting/stupid decisions, and the impact you’ve had on people and situations. Long-term travel gives you the opportunity to do all of that.”
- Explore travel hacking. If you’re in a good financial situation capitalize on credit cards that offer 50,000 miles for spending $2,000 to $3,000 in three months. These rewards points lead to free airfare (minus a surcharge) for flights that would otherwise cost over $1,000.
- Embrace minimalism. Evan’s whittled his 25 liter Camelpack to 10lbs., containing hiking and running pants, a pair of shorts, swim trunks, four shirts, long underwear, a pair of wool socks, two running socks, a warm jacket, a compact waterproof shell, Chaco sandals, and running shoes.
- Read An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts. Scoping out Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums wouldn’t hurt either.
Each of these free-spirited folks live different lives. Yet, the theme remains the same. Armed with agency, drive, and ingenuity, plenty is possible. So, if you’re waiting for your permission slip–here it is. Life is short. The world of conventions will be waiting if you need it. Follow your intuition. Quench your curiosity and make shit happen… We served up the samples. Now it’s your move.