It is common for people who are at the beginning of their work careers to use their money to meet their life goals. A common drive is to achieve financial independence to travel.
This is the case for most young British professionals who, after spending between three and five years in their jobs, take a pause to enjoy their money, often traveling to exotic places or getting to know different cultures for extended periods of time.
An attainable goal for all
Traveling becomes a priority in life for European professionals when they still haven’t taken on larger responsibilities, like forming a family, children to care of, starting up their own company, being promoted at work, etc.
Even more, the need to travel in the European culture is usually born out of purely personal reasons and is considered a sort of transition period from one stage of life to another.
For Alan, a young British man who cycled around Patagonia for three months last summer, the need to travel arose after he turned 30 years old.
Alan is a cyclist. He had been working five years nonstop in the mad world of the stock markets, earning a good salary. He had a comfortable life, renting an apartment with three other friends in London, where he lived an intense life between work and parties.
Given his job’s trait, Alan could not be absent from work for an extended period of time. Previously, as a junior analyst in an investment bank, he did not take vacations to learn as much from work and save the maximum possible. To unwind, he spent his money at parties, movies and clothes, among other things. His way of compensating for stress was to do his passion, cycling. Whenever he could, the escaped on the weekends to ride the English countryside, the Scottish Highlands, or Spain when it was a long weekend.
When he became a stockbroker, Alan’s free days were over. He spent long hours in the office taking calls from clients, especially young investors who wanted to trade aggressively. Alan would barely go out on the weekends, and when he did, he would pedal all he could around London.
Although he earned a good salary, living in London is expensive. It was impossible to save a lot to take a long trip.
Travel as a life experience
After five years living like this, Alan became restless. His life was monotonous. The main trips he had made so far were a family reunion in a resort in Mallorca, attending the wedding in Berlin of a friend from the university, and skiing in the Swiss Alps with work colleagues. But all were within Europe, which no longer was a novelty for him.
Alan wanted to go out and meet other cultures on top of his bike. He wasn’t clear at first where to go; all his friends told him to go to Southeast Asia, so popular among young Europeans. But Alan wanted more than partying. He as looking for peace and nature, not running or stressing, and he wasn't sure that visiting Thailand and Vietnam would meet these conditions.
So, Alan decided to have a real adventure: explore the Chilean Patagonia for three months on his bike with his best friend and fellow “hard rider,” Ewan.
Every time they could, these friends would take on their bikes and go out to discover new routes in Europe. However, they had never been away from their home country for a long time, one-week maximum, nor had they ever taken such an extensive tour.
From decision to action
Alan’s motivation to travel to Chile came primarily from listening to friends and family about how this South American country is the perfect entry point to Latin America, and from reading about the incredible biking experiences that the Chilean Patagonia offers.
At the office, many colleagues have gone on a trip to Chile for work or pleasure, and he was one of the few that has not been to South America in one way or the other.
Besides, Alan thought, if it were to be his first experience, he would be able to repeat the trip in other regions of the world.
He and Ewan looked at travel forums of people who went to Patagonia and Southern Chile on bicycles, joined a couple of groups on Facebook who shared their passion for traveling by bike, and learned about what it means to go to one of the most remote places in the world.
Once they understood better the type of trip experience they would have, both friends realized that it would also be an opportunity for a spiritual and emotional encounter, and to disconnect from everything they knew up until then. Never had they taken so much time for themselves. They both recognized how much they needed it.
By the time they took the plane to Santiago in November, Alan and Ewan just wanted to get there, pick up the bicycles that they had rented for three months, and begin their journey.
Alan’s 5 satisfactions
It was not difficult for Alan to decide to travel. It was evident to him that at 30 he was in a situation of financial comfort that allowed him to take this opportunity, and for such a long time. It would be harder for him to do it later considering potential promotions at work and job changes.
It was the right time. Alan had a good job and being absent for just three months wouldn't hurt his career.
Thus, he and Ewan hopped on their bicycles, aware that this trip would mark a before and after in their lives. For Alan, 5 reasons made this trip a priority in this chapter of his life:
1-Increases confidence and security in oneself: neither Alan or Ewan had lived the experience of traveling to remote countries where nature is the main challenge. Although they had taken long rides on their bikes in Europe, they had never been to a place like Patagonia. They were thrilled with the idea of living a new experience and learning from it.
Neither was scared when they read stories of cyclists who were stranded due to bad weather or damages to their bikes. It was part of the experience, and all they could do was to anticipate as many potential contingencies as possible.
Also, they researched all security measures beforehand that they should be observant of before heading out to explore the Chilean Patagonia.
2- A natural medicine that heals from the inside: Alan was starting to suffer the pressures of his job, and he was getting restless.
He felt that his concern was deeper than just stress, but he wasn't so sure as to where the root problem lied.
However, he did not feel comfortable going to therapy. Biking on the weekends became his refuge, by cycling around London or leaving the city whenever he could.
But he needed more. To disconnect. And he saw this trip as an alternative therapy that would allow him to rest his mind for a while.
He would imagine himself sitting on top of a hill, with only the company of his best friend, breathing pure air, surrounded by mountains and space. "There’s no better therapy,” Alan believed.
It is important to note that many psychologists today recommend that people who suffer from stress or depression should travel as therapy. Ideally, it should be a solitary experience or with someone of high trust.
3-Travel helps to become more tolerant and generous: Knowing new cultures and sharing with completely different people with other visions of the world, allowed Alan to know other lifestyles and, in turn, to value everything in his current life.
In their journey, the guys met travelers from all over the world and Chileans who, despite the language barrier, could communicate what was needed. Both were especially grateful of the warmth and hospitality they were treated with when they asked for help or were lost; above all the family in Puerto Chacabuco that let them spend the night in their house for two days due to heavy rains. Until today they keep in contact through Facebook; this experience helped both to discover the meaning of the word gratitude.
4-The power to expand the mind and see with different eyes: Traveling in Patagonia allowed Alan and Ewan to become even more aware of the world around them, understanding that everything that goes on around them, thousands of miles away from London, is much larger and powerful than their comfortable urban lives.
Also, being in different landscapes and meeting new cultures helped to educate these adventurous friends further. Now they know perfectly well what’s the lifestyle in Patagonia and about its culture and traditions. Let’s not forget the anecdotes they went back home with to tell their families and friends for years!
5- Fun 24/7!: Leaving out this point is impossible. A person decides to travel for pleasure to simply enjoy. Alan and Ewan would meet fun groups of Chileans and foreigners who shared stories and life experiences around bonfires in the campsites where they camped.
Every day was a discovery, of new landscapes on top of their bikes or by trekking with the people they met along the way. Whenever the opportunity arose, they cooked together with other voyagers, and each diner brought food. That’s how they were able to taste new flavours and aromas, local and foreign, all in one place.
Alan and Ewan spent three months traveling through Patagonia and southern Chile, on their bikes for much of the time, and shortening part of the ride by taking the ferry that connects Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. They enjoyed the landscape, the pure air, and the company of other travelers seeking the same as they did: Disconnecting and learning.
The trip also fuelled their creativity and led them to quit their jobs to devote themselves to their passion. With Alan’s financial knowledge and Ewan’s engineering experience, the friends formed a travel-by-bike startup. Patagonia is one of the destinations they first recommend to clients.
Now you understand when they say that traveling must become a priority in your life?