Safari, freedom, and bungee in Africa

As a teenager, I would watch a show called Big Cat Diary. Safari master Jonathan Scott would scoot around in his 4×4 safari vehicle and document the lives of lions, leopards, and cheetahs in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.

I told myself before I died, I needed to get to Africa on safari. I had no idea I would check it off my bucket list at just 26 years old.

Okavango Delta

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My safari experience started in northwestern Botswana. The Okavango Delta is one of the natural-occurring wonders in the whole world. Every year, rains from Angola flood previously-dry channels and the flow makes its way south. Due to tectonic plate shifts over time, the rainwater pools in present-day Okavango Delta. I went in March, so the Delta was not flooded. This gave me a unique chance to go on many walking, driving, and helicopter safaris.

Xigera Camp

The first camp I went to was Xigera (Key-Juhr-Uh) in the Moremi Game Reserve. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the friendliness of the staff. From the manager, Quest, to my safari master, Wise, a sense of community and family could be felt every day. I immediately felt a part of this family and spent time with both Quest and Wise to learn more about their way of life and their past. It was rewarding, indeed.

From Maun – the main airport nearest the Okavango – we took a chartered flight to Xigera and upon landing found a nice little surprise:

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A sleepy lioness was waiting for us once as we touched down, and this photo was the first one I snapped on safari. After I got situated in the tent-style accommodations I’d be staying in for the next two nights, we loaded up the Toyota 4×4 and went on our first game drive in the Delta. Today’s star of the show: leopard cub.

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This was the second cat I saw and my second favorite of the trip. My favorite was this lovely lady’s brother, who can be seen as the premier photo on this post. Wise told us that the cubs’ mother was spotted nearby two nights back with both cubs. We arrived at the spot to find only the female cub. Wise guessed the mother was out hunting and that the brother was close by. He was right.

An elephant trumpeted a warning call behind us as I was taking the above picture, and I yelled out “Holy shit” pretty loud. I had never seen an elephant in the wild before and it had crept up behind us. The bull wasn’t too pumped that we were there so we gave him space and went to look for other animals.

Elephant

The Moremi Game Reserve is known for its impalas, kudus, and other species of antelope. Wildebeest readily grazed the planes with zebra, and hundreds of species of birds could be heard every moment. I fell asleep to the sounds of lions and the thoughts of the next day’s impending adventure.

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Eagle Island Camp

Helicopters, mokoros, and rovers, oh my!

Eagle Island is an upscale lodge in the heart of the Okavango. At one point, a fully grown elephant came within five feet of me while chomping down some brush. I had my own apartment, plunge pool, and bathtub.

But that’s not what made this place special.

Upon disembarking our charter flight from Xigera to Eagle Island, we settled into our accommodations for the night and hopped in the Land Rover in the morning. Our first sighting? A pack of wild dogs.

Our new safari guide, Mo, said he hadn’t seen the pack in over a month. The endangered species was quite an awesome sight to see.

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Traveling to the other side of the world transcends you into different cultures, foods, and ideas while dealing with local people and their histories. You throw yourself into a different place and traveling like this forces you to be in the present.

“Worrying about the past is pointless, and worrying about tomorrow takes away from the beauty of today!”

There is just something about seeing the tallest mammal in the world walking past you 20 feet away to make you get goosebumps. I found the giraffe to be the most majestic of all the animals I saw. These friendly creatures could be seen dotted along the plains nibbling on greens at the tops of trees.

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A magnificent part of my trip to Africa was the opportunity to go on a helicopter safari. Seeing the delta from up above gave me such a unique perspective of the landscape and geography.

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After getting back down to Earth, we hopped back into the rover and backtracked to inspect a single hippo in a single small pond. Mo said it was likely that the hippo was forced out of the pod, and definitely wasn’t too pumped to see us.

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We had a wonderful opportunity to visit a local village in the Okavango – one of two left in existence. The people make their houses out of clay and aluminum cans. As the cans were spread about the village grounds, I asked Mo why. He said the children play with the cans in the streets and that they are also used in the construction of walls. The huts were all one room, with no electricity or drinkable water.

All the money the village received was from tourists such as myself coming into the village and buying souvenirs. Of course, I got one.

To see how these people live further opened my eyes to well off I have it in America.

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Victoria Falls

For those of you that aren’t aware, Victoria Falls straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe just northeast of Botswana. The Falls are the largest in the world based on cubic flow. The amount of water that falls from the Zambezi River per second into the Batoka Gorge 364 feet down equals the amount of water New York City uses in one day. Re-read that if you need to.

The first morning I woke up in Zambia, we went to nearby Mosi-o-Tunya National Park in search of the elusive white rhino. What a trek.

Rhinos

After three hours of walking with our guide “Skinny” and Mike the government official with the gun, we still had not seen a rhino. We had seen plenty of bugs and scenery that made me feel like I was in the Vietnam War, but no rhinos. Finally, a guide on the other side of the park radioed Skinny and told us there had been a sighting. We blazed down the road and found this mom/daughter combo:

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With this sighting, I was able to accomplish the rare feat of seeing the “Big 5” on my first safari. The Big 5 includes Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Cape Buffalo and Rhino.

Bungee

When I was approached with the opportunity of bungee jumping Victoria Falls, it intrigued me. It also terrified me. Fear is one of the greatest deterrents to personal growth. If I am to complete my goal of traveling around the world, I need to get over the fear of the unknown. I decided that if it was my time to go, I’d rather hang out in the Zambezi River than in a bed when I’m 80 anyway. I took the leap.

And I’m so glad I did.

The feeling of freefall wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It was the initial anticipation of putting my feet over the ledge 364 feet above crocodile-infested waters in the middle of Africa. After a nice 5-4-3-2-1- BUNGEE countdown, I flung myself off the bridge into the Batoka Gorge. What a rush.

I knew that I would regret not jumping the whole way 44 hours back to the USA, so I took a deep breath and just went for it. I recommend bungee jumping for anyone that feels hindered by mental restrictions. Calculated risk can be a great growth tool.

I was on a natural high for days afterward, and the view of the Batoka Gorge on the way back up was something I will not soon forget.

Traveling makes the soul full

At the end of the day, we are all humans. Politics, agendas, wars, and society like to strip us of that basic fact. When I travel, I love to meet and learn from other people. This trip was to the other side of the world, and I fully immersed myself into it.

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You are forced to live in the present when you travel. If you don’t why bother? Turn off your email, Facebook messenger, and just let go a little bit. There’s more to this life than your cubicle. Go find it.

Next stop, Iceland.

 

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Location independence – break free

Hopefully, in less than six months I will be location independent. If this is your first time to Skyscrapers & Mountains, welcome. Likely you got to this page because you have at least once thought about how life would look unlocked from the chains attached to your desk in the normal 9-5 lifestyle. I feel you. Throughout this post, I will be sharing some travel photos in hopes it sparks some kind of wanderlust in you should you not already have some.

This article won’t be a cure-all for how to solve your problems. Everyone is different. People have different goals, different objectives. The route I am taking may not be right for you. But when I am finally living the life I want to live, I hope this post can give some of you reading it some inspiration. If you want something bad enough, go get it. You are only limited to what you tell yourself you can’t do.

Today is Valentine’s Day. For many of you, this is a great, joyous occasion that gives you an excuse to pamper your partner, make the bed squeak, and snuggle each other until you wake up tomorrow. After a relationship of five years and a somewhat messy break-up, V-Day for me is just like any other day: a chance to improve myself. I’ve learned that to make any changes in your life, you have to do it for – and with – the ones you love. As a single guy trying to see all the beauty this world has to offer, it’s easy to focus on No. 1.

Unrealistic goals

One of the suggestions I have taken to heart from The 4-Hour Workweek is to make unrealistic goals. My goals may be realistic to you, but for me, they are tough to imagine. The following are two long-term goals and two short-term goals I am trying right now.

  • Become location independent by June 13.
    • There is no other reason for this date other than this is the date where flights from Chicago to Bangkok, Thailand are the cheapest. To be honest, there are two things limiting me from taking off right now.
      • 1.) Money (which we’ll get to later) and
      • 2.) A free trip to South Africa paid for by my current employer (the No. 1 thing on my Bucket List right now is to go on an African safari).
    • I believe that there is a learning curve (again, scroll down to the challenges section of this post if you are jonesing for how I am adapting to challenges), and things you need to learn about yourself before you attempt what I am trying to accomplish.
  • Get to Everest Base Camp in September.
    • “It’s not the mountain you conquer, but yourself.”
    • In contrast to some people who wanted to be a firefighter, astronaut, or doctor when they were growing up, I had no clue. Not only will this trek test me physically, but even more so mentally. If I can accomplish this feat, I’m confident I can accomplish anything.
  • Get out of my comfort zone every day.
    • This could be talking to someone you don’t know, it could be eye gazing while you talk to people or while other people talk to you. If you are looking for a change, it’s likely you have some fear about it. Face it head-on.
  • Write an email to an impossible person to get a hold of.
    • I limit my emails to 200 words and they are directed at former Presidents of the United States, men and women who have changed the world in their respective fields, and visionaries from across the globe. I end with a question in hopes they will take time out of their day to write four words in a row to me.

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How I’m trying to make money

Blogging

There are a bunch of different ways to make money online. Here’s a list of 64 of them. I am a writer by trade and by degree, so making a blog that fills a niche is the most appealing to me. My goal is to help inspire others by seeing my travel stories. I want to learn from, photograph, videograph, and document people who look different than me so that the people of this world can see that at the end of the day, we are all humans. Along with a little skill and a lot of hard work and discipline, I know I can be successful in one arena or another. So – a little shameless self-promotion here – subscribe to my blog if you find this helpful.

Affiliate marketing

A lot of people trying to make money online these days look to affiliate marketing to earn passive income on various Multi-Level Management business opportunities (MLMs). There are numerous success stories out there of people traveling the world and promoting their products through social media channels, emails, and word of mouth. Naturally, I thought with my 1,400+ Instagram followers, work ethic, and writing and people skills, this would be an easy way to make money.

So far, the verdict is still out.

Few people will do very good with MLMs, most won’t. I believe that people with natural-born leadership, a proven system, and a huge social media following can rake in money with by selling the opportunity of imitating their successes. Truth is, a lot of people will fail. For the right type of person, though, this can be quite lucrative, however short-term.

I am currently an affiliate with Digital Altitude. This high-ticket program pays out when you recruit new members to sell Digital Altitude’s products – educationals on how to be a successful online marketer. There are six tiers to the program, each buy-in more expensive than the last. The way you make money is recruiting others to join you. You are embedded into a community that has been successful, have coaching sessions to keep you on the right track toward success, and even Marketing Mastery Events that get you hyped up for what the future has in store. Sounds great, right?

Digital Altitude is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Founder and CEO Michael Force has relinquished control of the company.

There are two opinions on what will happen next.

  • 1.) The FTC is just looking into Digital Altitude because of the amount of success it is having, not because they have done something wrong.
  • 2.) Digital Altitude is going down and everyone is going to lose their money.

Stay tuned.

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Becoming an influencer

The problem with affiliate marketing programs that promote high-tier commissions is that it’s hard to start. Take me for example. I want to eventually travel the world. Right now, I’m working 70 hours a week. It’s hard to convince a snail that I am actually living my dream. It’s a Catch 22. You won’t have enough income to start living your dream life if you can’t get people to sign up for what you’re doing. If you book a one-way flight to Timbuktu, you have no sense of security. Security is the enemy if you want to have money start working for you.

Becoming an influencer could bring you sponsorships, partnerships, and publicity. You have to be one hell of a marketer, and/or unbelievably skilled to start making money quickly going this route. You need to find a way to have killer content like Nomadic Matt or a great goal like Johnny Ward

Go to Instagram and search @einnaroy or @danielkordan. These guys are near the top of my influencer list. These guys have great photos, great stories, great videos, and do it while trekking the globe. These kinds of people make their money and are location independent because they are so popular, brands throw their money at them. This could be a longer route and a route I would consider to be a bonus if it happens.

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Freelancing

Freelancing or negotiating with your employer to work away from an office is perhaps one of the most common ways people can break the chains and live the life they want to live. Security blinds us. As employees in America, you are punished for sitting in an office chair from 9-5 Monday through Friday. The government takes nearly half of your wages to cover its federal programs, which sits on a foundation of fake money.

Contrary to what you believe to be true, the U.S. Dollar is not backed up by any gold anywhere. Baby Boomers looking to cash in their retirement programs after a lifetime of work will see a big pile of nothing in the near future. The Industrial Age of going to school, getting a good paying job, buying a nice car and a nice house, putting up a picket fence with two kids and a dog is great for some people. But it is the way of the past.

Welcome to the Information Age. A new study finds 35 percent of employees in this country have remote working locations. If the government is going to take your money away anyway, wouldn’t you like to be where you want to be with the people you want to be with?

There are a number of great freelance websites to get your name out there. Start with a portfolio of your work, send emails to clients or employers you think would be a good fit, and answer the phone. Say yes more than you say no. It’s amazing what having an open mind can do for you.

I currently have three freelance roles in North Central Washington. Although it is not enough for me to live on the road, I am building up to having this be a viable option for income I can make from my computer.

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Investing

Easy, buddy. Eaaaaaasy. If you are in debt, have never invested anything in your whole life, or are clueless to how the stock market works, work up to it. Just throwing thousands of dollars into the new frenzy of cryptocurrency could spell doom for you. Make sure you read Think and Grow Rich to get your feet underneath you before you start buying real estate property in Waikiki Beach. With investing, you need to think and see with your mind, not your eyes. You need to be able to read numbers, not letters. Most people – about 90 percent of the population – will never try investing. This is the pinnacle of having your hard earned money work for you. Many people think investing is risky. If you have the right mentors and game plan, it could be the best way to make money.

I know these principles because I am learning one day at a time. I am by no means an expert and have loads of student debt myself. Someday I hope to break the trend of trading my time for money, and this is the way to do it. You can be financially free in 10 years if you learn how to invest correctly.

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Challenges

Direction

Apart from the obvious challenge of making money online to fund the lifestyle I want to live, I have some troubles with underachieving. Yes, you read that right. Underachieving. When we try to do too much, we get analysis paralysis. You do so much research on something and you don’t pull the proverbial trigger.

This is one of my biggest faults. An action that leads to inaction is still inaction. An action that leads to action yields results. It starts with a thought.

The problem that I have is I do not currently know the best way to proceed. I would love to have two things a day I do no matter what to achieve my goals in the most succinct way possible, but it is often not possible. Instead, I take what Tom Ferris said in The Four-Hour Workweek to heart. Just do something instead of nothing.

Action

For example, I’m writing this blog post right now, and I’m loving it. I’ll post it on my social networks and I”ll get X amount of hits. But I’m doing it. Baby steps.

Another example: I was skinny in high school, fat in college and I’m in the middle now. Instead of not going to the gym, I go for 30 minutes a day four times a week. I am losing weight and I feel better about myself. It kickstarts my mornings or evenings and gives me more motivation as I go through the day knowing I did something to better myself. It starts with one day. Don’t push it off till Monday because you’ll push it off till Tuesday. Just go. This is a challenge I have overcome.

Patience

Somebody smart once said, “Patience is a virtue.” I was not blessed with this virtue. When I figure out something I want to do, I seek immediate gratification. Financially free and independent thinkers enjoy delayed gratification. Taking steps to achieve those big, unattainable, and far-flung goals do not happen overnight. This is one of my biggest challenges. If you find yourself struggling with this as well, grab yourself a Panda Planner. This has increased my focus and productivity to what actually counts tenfold.

See you in Tibet.

 

Why you need to go to Arches NP in Feb.

Looking to escape the winter weather and go exploring in February? Look no further than Arches National Park in eastern Utah.

I first moved to the Pacific Northwest from a small town in Wisconsin. When I did, I didn’t know oceans, forests, or mountains. All I knew was that I really liked the Packers and that there were a lot of farms in Wisconsin.

When I realized how much raw beauty there was in Washington’s Cascade mountain range, I immediately fell in love with exploring, with adventure, and with pushing the limits of my mind and my body.

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The radius of my exploration grew from Washington state to the entire western United States. I have been to more than a dozen National Parks in just over three years, and I have to tell you, there is a special place in my heart for Arches National Park.

February and March is the perfect time to go!

Most states in our country are cold during the winter months of February and March. (Duh!) In Wisconsin, it is likely that there’s about four feet of snow on the ground. In contrast, the daily highs in southern and eastern Utah creep into the 50s. Once the calendar flips to March, those temperatures get even balmier.

Skip the summer crowds when there are so many people at the parks that it feels like you are walking on top of people. You can realistically have this park all to yourself if you plan your winter trip correctly. The silence of the park in the early morning hours is hypnotizing.

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Place to stay

With zero percent hesitation, my recommendation for a place to camp near Arches is a little gem called Dead Horse Point State Park about thirty minutes away. This state park has a view of the Colorado River and is at such a high elevation that you look up at night and practically touch the stars. Book your spot at Kayenta Campground before time runs out!

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If you’re a nighttime or galaxy photographer, this will be something of a paradise for you. It may be a little chilly up at elevation in comparison to the temperature down in Arches. Easily solution: bring a lot of blankets. If you’re not one for roughing it and dealing with the elements, check out the yurts where you can go glamping.

Other places to stay

Places to see, things to do

Set your alarm clock for nice and early in the morning. Arches is best seen in the early light of morning, and if you need proof, check out my Instagram page for pictures of the beautiful orange sandstone in the morning light.

At the very end of the road lies the Devil’s Garden trail. You’ll see seven arches if you opt for the 4.8-mile loop, and can see up to 10 if you do the full 7.8-mile trail.

Landscape

Two of my favorite sections of the park include the Windows section and Balanced Rock – here you can see some of the most iconic places the park has to offer. Pick up a park map at the gate and do whatever you can to spend a full day at the park.

Side trips

I’m partial to Arches because of the unique geology that is on display. What makes the Moab area such a great destination, however, is that it is home to two national parks. About a 15 minutes away from Dead Horse Point State Park lies Moab’s second National Park – Canyonlands.

This land of tiered and layered canyons is breathtaking in its own right and is home to one of the most famous photos in eastern Utah: Mesa Arch. Get to this gem at sunrise for a great photo opportunity, but get there early to get a good spot. On a clear day, the arch radiates a bright orange, perfect for a landscape shot.

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Moab itself is a destination in its own right. The tourist town is good for outfitters for all kind of extreme sports (skydiving, rafting the Colorado, rock climbing), shopping, and pizza. If you like a lot of pizza, go to ZAX.

Getting to Moab

I like driving to places across the United States. The freedom of the open road, especially in the western and southern parts of the United States is an amazing way to see this great country. That being said, I understand not everyone can hop in a car from where they are and drive to eastern Utah. If flying in, make Denver or Salt Lake City your home base,  and rent a car from there! Check out my favorite way to book flights here.

Arches and Canyonlands are a great destination if you only have three-seven days you can get off from the dreaded 9-5. Grab the tent, a few sleeping bags, and a load of blankets and pillows and just go. Who’s stopping you?

All the photos in this post are mine.

10 destinations to pique your wanderlust

The following destinations are places that will give you an experience you will never forget and will get you in the right mindset to see more of this world.

As an aspiring digital nomad, going online to find cheap flights around the world has been somewhat of a hobby of mine for the last four or five years. There’s something exciting about picking your route around the globe and knowing that yes, you could actually see all of the places of your dreams if you just took the leap.

“It’s not about how many breaths we take, but about the moments that take our breath away.”

Learn how to become location independent like me and be able to travel the world!

Marrakesh, Morocco

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Jemaa el-Fnna at nighttime. Photo by USA Today.

Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in the western African nation of Morocco lies the historic and mysterious Marrakesh – the county’s fourth-largest city.

Marrakesh’s medina – the historic and traditional Arab quarter of town – is littered with authentic and near-ancient gardens, courtyards, and millennia-old architecture. Colors splash from all sides and visitors won’t need to look far for local cuisine or gifts.
Head to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the country’s most popular marketplace, for an Arab experience you won’t soon forget.

Wind your way through the cobbled streets of this preserved area, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you got stuck in a time machine.

  • Europeans or people currently in Europe countries have it the easiest when traveling to Marrakesh. Many nonstop flights are available from major cities across the continent.
  • If you’re coming from North America, find a connecting flight into Boston, Newark, or Miami and take off from across the pond from there. Flying out of JFK or Laguardia in New York City can be a hassle, but can save you money, too.
  • Getting to Marrakesh from Asia on the cheap can be tough. Try the Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore airport hubs for the best rates.
  • For my friends down in South America, flying into Marrakesh is going to be the cheapest from Brazil. Take an intercontinental flight into Rio de Janiero or Sao Paulo first before traveling to Africa!

I like authentic and cultural immersion experiences when I travel. AirBNB is a great way to do this (I am not affiliated with AirBNB in any way, shape, or form.)

Check out this sweet suite!

Best time to go: March-April; September-November. Best for cultural immersion

El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten is the gateway to some of the most breathtaking glacial mountain views on Planet Earth. Just 10 miles east of the Chilean border, El Chalten makes for a great base to explore Torres Del Paine National Park to the south and the lesser-known Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the west.

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Set in the Andes Mountain Range, glacial runoff from mountain peaks creates lakes all hues of blue and green. Hire a boat to take you through the Chilean fjords for a unique view of the nature surrounding you, or lace up the hiking boots and do one of the most famous hikes in the southern hemisphere, Mirador Las Torres.

The photos remind me of Glacier National Park, only on the other side of the globe.

AirBNB: Fork over the extra dough for this place at the base of Fitz Roy.

Best time to go: November-March. Best for exploring raw wilderness.

Palawan, Philipines

Close your eyes. Fasten an invisible and imaginary snorkeling mask over your face. Without opening your eyes, envision crystal clear waters with no sediment blocking your view as you eye fish of all colors and sizes. Picture tropical fish all colors of the rainbow from the internet.

Now imagine if this didn’t have to be a dream or a fake scenario. Get to the island of Palawan in the Philipines and this can be yours! This is the type of destination where time goes slow, and the fun exceeds expectations. Shipwrecks, reefs, and incredible flora and fauna seen nowhere else in the world can all be yours.

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Dubbed the best island in the world by Travel and Leisure, Palawan’s gorgeous waters can be seen from space and is a great destination for beachgoers if you have already been to or are looking for a different culture than the Caribbean.

Some of the biggest hubs in SE Asia are Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Denpasar, and Taipei. Get yourself to one of those airports from wherever you are and take a cheap flight into Puerto Princesa (nonstop from Manila, Singapore).

As I’ve said above, I am a huge fan of AirBNB to get an authentic, cultural experience. Not only can you live like a local, but you can be in the midst of the local traditions as well. Hit up this one, this one, or this one.

Best time to go: October-June. Best for water activities and beaches.

Kathmandu, Nepal

For many adventurists, extremists, and people interested near the highest peak of them all, getting to Mount Everest is as high on the bucket list as you can go. In order to get to base camp, or even to start the climb all the way to the APEX of the highest place on Planet Earth, you need to get to Nepal in the heart of the Himalayan Mountain Range.

I won’t tell you that attempting to summit Everest without the proper conditioning or training is a good idea, although I know that many of you may someday aspire to reach the peak of the world. In order to do so, you’ll need to make your way to the northern end of the Indian subcontinent in central Asia.

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Getting to Everest will best be done from the entry point of Kathmandu. Take public transport or a guide to the best viewing point of the massive crag, which actually makes berth in the Chinese province of Tibet.

The cheapest way to get to Kathmandu is through Dubai. It is easy to get a cheap flight into Dubai and through to Kathmandu from Europe, but harder from the Americas. Expect to pay at minimum $800 one way to get to central Asia from the Americas. Same basic principle applies from Asia: Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, or Hong Kong will be your best departure points for access to the beautiful Himalayas.

Check out some of these crazy awesome AirBNB’s in Nepal for your base camp to base camp.

Best time to go: September-November. Best for cultural immersion, mountain scenery

Lofoten, Norway

When I was sitting in front of the most beautiful mountain I had ever seen in the Swiss Alps in the Summer of 2017, I heard an older gentleman exclaim that the Alps were indeed the second most beautiful mountain range in Europe – and much more expensive to boot. He said to his comrade at the time; “Switzerland is just the southern Norway.”

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Following photographers based in the northern Norweigan archipelago of Lofoten has become somewhat of an addiction since then. The deep fjords filled with dark blue water looks like a painting. The peaks that jut out of the water seem surreal and can be seen as far as the eye can see.

I think Lofoten would be best seen as a larger tour of Norway itself, but I’m not naive enough to assume everyone has two months to go exploring this beautiful place at a slow pace. My recommendation is to rent a car from Tromso near the Arctic circle and drive to Lofoten at your own pace. Make sure to stop in Hennigsvaer to see one of the most unique soccer pitches in the world, and to Reine for one of the best reflection shots you’ll ever hope to see.

Your best bet to get to Tromso on the cheap is to go to Norweigan Airlines‘ website and find a flight through the capital, Oslo. You can even get the rental car on that site, no problem! Although I am indeed a travel agent, I am in no way affiliated with Norweigan Airlines.

This, though. Sleep here.

Best time to go: April-September for daylight; November-February for Northern Lights.

Zion National Park, Utah, United States

Whereas I have not been to the above destinations, and they are instead bucket list places I someday aspire to get to, I have actually been to Zion National Park on two occasions and would go again without a moment’s hesitation if the opportunity presented itself.

In the summer of 2015, my brother Michael and I went on a western United States National Park tour. We visited seven national parks in 17 days and hiked nearly 100 miles of trails. Our first stop was Zion National Park. From my hometown of Wenatchee, Washington, we drove the 18 hours all the way to southern Utah in one day. We finally arrived in a small town called Hurricane and promptly passed out of exhaustion. What awaited us in the morning was my first interaction with the canyon.

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The view seen above is one of the two absolutely must-dos on any trip to the park: Angel’s Landing. A video of the treacherous hike can be seen here and will make you feel one of two ways: jacked, or terrified. I’ve done Angel’s Landing twice and I would do it again. If you are afraid of heights, get out of your comfort zone! So long as you carry out common sense and don’t flail your body around in strange ways, you will absolutely be fine on this hike.

The second must-do is the Zion Narrows. Head over to Springdale, the small community that borders Zion canyon to the west, and stop at one of the Narrows outfitters to pick up your walking stick, water wicking socks, and shoes.

The hike through the Zion Narrows is in water and is one of the most amazing experiences in Utah. Coupled with the beautiful orange cliffs and a rich history, Zion is my favorite National Park in the western United States.

Best time to go: March-September. Best for exploration and wonder.

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Nairobi, Kenya

Have you ever thought of going on an African safari? Think it’s impossible. Well, it’s not! Of course, you get what you pay for but hop a flight to Nairobi and there are plenty of low-cost safari outfitters to get you access to some of the best Game Reserves on Planet Earth.

Go in August-November to catch a glimpse of the biggest migration on Earth – the stampeding wildebeest. Think the opening scenes in the Lion King, but without the animation.

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Nearly everyone has heard of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, but perhaps less well known is the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in southwestern Kenya. The Maasai is a triangular stretch of savannah that boasts some of the best wildlife sightings on the planet. Check out Big Cat Diary for any additional motivation.

Maasai Game Camp.

Best time to go: March-June; September-November. Best for wildlife.

Bagan, Myanmar

I first found out about the temples of Bagan from Anthony Bourdain and his show on CNN called Parts Unknown and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

The journey to Bagan is arduous. It is difficult to get a visa for the newly-opened-to-tourists country of Myanmar, and the easiest and most cost-effective entry point to the place formerly known as Burma is through its capital of Yangon, in the southern part of the country. The journey is perhaps best done on an overnight commuter train through the rolling countryside of Myanmar, but the trip is a long and rickety one.

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Once to the land of the thousand temples, rent a bike from one of the local shops, sign up for a morning hot air balloon ride, or find an empty temple and soak in your surroundings. It’s unlikely you’ll find much cell service here, and that’s pretty much the beauty of it.

If you want to be within smelling distance of the temples, stay here for the best experience.

Best time to go: November-February. Best for religious exploration and aesthetic beauty .

Vik, Iceland

Iceland is the place where you go to feel like you have somehow been transported off Earth and into a different realm. The setting for some of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings films, Iceland has some of the most unique terrain in the world. This place is easily and cheaply accessible from Europe and the United States, and notoriously difficult to get to from SE or Central Asia. If coming from the eastern part of the globe, search Emirates and Icelandair first.

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Vik is on the eastern side of the island and is best known for its stunningly-unique black beaches. The landscape is dramatic everywhere you look, but Vik is especially strange. Couple a tour to Vik with National Geographic’s top trek in the world, the Laugavegur Trek, and you’ll have an experience to talk with your grandchildren about when you are 80 years old on a rocking chair.

Rent a car through Auto Europe for the best prices and flexibility, and drive until you can’t drive anymore. Get this whole yurt near the water for your stay.

Best time to go: June-October. Best for untamed beauty and backpacking expeditions.

Banff/Jasper National Parks, British Columbia, Canada

Last but certainly not least is the rugged National Parks of Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. If you like fresh mountain air, stunning vistas, and shopping, this is the place for you. The small town of Banff has upscale shopping for its visitors with stunning mountain peaks as its backdrop.

The two parks are combined by the Icefields Parkway – a highway that winds its way through the Rockies and is flanked by glaciers of all shapes and sizes – and can be done in a day, even with stopping at all the jaw-dropping vistas.

Don’t miss Moraine and Peyto Lakes, you’ll be glad you didn’t. The following photos are from my own camera, and let me tell you, if I can get decent photos of this place, so can you!

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Rent a car in Calgary and make sure you have at least a week budgeted for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Best time to go: June-October. Best for: Mountain, lake, and waterfall landscapes

Think I missed one?

Let me know by commenting below or tagging me in a post on Instagram @davidheiling

What am I getting myself into?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

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The term wanderlust is described simply as “a strong desire to travel,” but I’m not sure that describes but the tip of the iceberg. I first got a taste for this strong desire when I was in my last semester of college. At the end of my ninth semester, I was two credits short of graduation. To fulfill my degree requirements, I decided to take a Civil Rights Pilgrimage into the heart of the American deep south.

What I discovered in Memphis, New Orleans, Selma, Ala., Birmingham, Montgomery and Little Rock was a world quite different than the one I was used to in Wisconsin. I learned about happiness, grief, love, despair, injustice, and compassion on a whole new level. That trip changed me and the way I view the world.

I then stumbled onto the show “Departures” on Netflix. The thought of galavanting around the globe meeting people of different ethnicities, religions, colors, and creeds seemed more appealing and more doable.

Then, in the summer of 2017, my friend Jay and I went to Europe on a 14-day backpacking trip. Highlighted by the Tomorrowland festival in Boom, Belgium, we visited Amsterdam and the Swiss Alps. I discovered what a true borderless community looks like when I stepped onto the Tomorrowland festival grounds for the first time and found that fundamentally, we are all the same. There were no wars, politics, or arguments. Just people coming together for the same cause: love.

I want this site to be an inspiration for others looking to do what I will do; to prove it’s not impossible. I know there is more for me than sitting at a desk and if you’re reading this, likely you feel the same in some capacity.

I hope you’ll follow my journey as I try to give you travel tips, travel guidance, information about specific destinations, and ways to follow me into the nomad lifestyle. Buckle up, it should be a fun ride.