Travelling alone isn’t as scary as it might sound. There is nothing wrong with it at all. Over fifty percent of the people I met when I was travelling around South East Asia were also travelling alone. In fact, I’m prepared to put my head on the chopping block and make the claim that travelling alone is a far more authentic traveling experience than traveling with friends. It’s something you must do!
I’m this post I am going to list the five main benefits of travelling alone. I hope this convinces any potential solo traveler reading this that traveling alone is a great idea for them too.
1. You make every decision.
One of the main benefits of travelling alone is that you are in control of every detail of your trip. There is no need to compromise on what you want to do, where you want to go or how long you want to stay. You make every decision which means you can completely plan the trip around your personal tastes. Travelling alone allows you to be very self-indulgent. I love it!
2. Forced to meet new people.
It’s funny because I’m kind of anti-social and before I went on my backpacking trip, I didn’t really think too much about meeting other people. Sure, I thought it would be nice to have some company now and again but that was never the reason I was doing it. Now looking back, I feel that the encounters I had and the experiences I shared with the other people I met where some of the best and most memorable moments of the trip. Who would have thought?
Travelling alone makes it far easier to meet other people. There are plenty of other solo travellers out there and everyone is keen to meet others– just like you. You can hop from one group to another and befriend some cool people in the process.
Of course, you can still meet people when travelling with others but it is a little more difficult as you have a friend to rely on. When you are alone you are almost forced to meet new people due to the situation you’re in. Just say hello!
3. Time for yourself.
Some people may appreciate this more than others but personally I loved having the time to myself. I don’t know if I could deal with three months constantly being with the same person or people without my own space.
When you are travelling alone you have plenty of time to think about life, read, listen to music and really take in the things you are seeing and the experiences you have having. This abundance of alone time made the trip that much more rewarding for me.
4. More booking flexibility.
When you are travelling alone you have so much more flexibility. You can easily turn up in a new town or city on a whim, without booking and easily find a place to stay. This relaxed attitude toward travelling becomes harder and harder to pull off with the more friends you have travelling with. You may find yourself having to book each hostel in advance to make sure that you are guaranteed a room together. The same applies for other types of bookings such as activities and transport too.
5. True freedom.
The final and greatest reason to travel alone is the experience of true freedom. There is no doubt, at least for me, that this is the most rewarding aspect of travelling. I love the feeling of being in a strange place with nothing to rely on but my own hands and mind. The challenges you face are yours alone to conquer and conquering them makes you feel unstoppable. You can go anywhere. You can do anything. There is nothing there to stop you. When you travel alone you walk on the earth as a modern-day human unshackled from obligation and society. You are free…until you run out of money.
If you have been following my blog, I’m sure it’s clear to you by now that I am bullish on reading books. Before last year I was never a big reader. I normally manged to read a Stephen King novel if I was going on vacation and I had started reading some of Eckhart Tolle’s books – which were very eye opening books for me – but that was about it. Nowadays, I promote reading in the same way I would promote breathing oxygen. I think reading is important and it has been a major factor in improving my mindset over the last year. In this post I want to explain why reading is important.
A couple of days ago, I saw a post on Instagram which inferred that reading is no longer important in a world where we have instant access to countless hours of free informational video online. I couldn’t help but to be a little miffed at this claim. Here’s the thing. Reading is not for everyone, I get that. Many people gravitate towards learning from experience or by observing others – and I do too! However, too many people write off books simply because they have never thought of themselves as the type person who reads them.
I honestly believe that most people out there don’t understand exactly how reading books can help them. It’s for this reason that I want to create this post. I’m going to talk about why reading is important and how building a reading habit won’t merely help you become more knowledgeable about certain specific subjects that you may or may not care about but has the power to transform your life in very real ways!
You should read books to cross-reference your experiences.
Stick with me. I want you to think about your whole life experience from birth up to this point in time as you are reading this post. What exactly do you know about the world we live in? How do you know it?
Let me make some assumptions on where you get your information from.
Obviously the most reliable source of knowledge is experience. You experience certain things in the world and then use what you have learnt through these experiences to guide your future decisions in life. The problem is that you are only human (I think) and the amount of first hand experiences you have is limited. It’s probably more limited than you even realise. It doesn’t matter how much of a varied life you live; your experiences are still going to be a tiny slither of the range of perspectives available.
It’s for this reason that you need to cross reference your experience with second hand information too. Where do you get your second-hand information from? Well much of it comes from what you were told as a child (from your parents while some of it from friends and other people you associate with in your life. The issue with this is that these sources of information are based around people who most likely have very similar experiences to you in terms of the type of world they are living in. Your parents have enforced their values onto you and you have accepted them without question – not to say that these values are necessarily wrong but you have still internalised them blindly.
It’s a similar deal with friends and co-workers. You are living in the same environment as them, you have probably internalised similar values from your parents, school and life situation – what this means is that you might well have fallen into a group think mindset without realising it. You parrot back the same predictable response because you believe it is true and this truth is naturally reinforced by those around you who hold the same truth – but is it true?
This brings me onto the media, which is huge factor in shaping what you think you know. Maybe you watch TV? Read the news? Watch Movies? Netflix? Advertisements? Facebook? Guess what. These things are influenced by the same modern culture that you and everyone else around you have become wrapped up in. Each of these mediums are haunted by the same Zeitgeist. For people living in western countries, a big thing to watch out for the Hollywood narrative. You have most likely been consuming Hollywood movies for your entire life and because of this, you don’t even see how your values are shaped by the engaging stories being pumped out by the same six companies. Really? Yes, really.
There’s an invisible narrative running through everything you consume and the best way to realise this is to break out of it and view it from the outside. Like a curious observer looking in. You can start asking questions like:
Why exactly do we do that?
Why does everyone I know take this so-called truth for granted?
How do I know what I think I know?
The reason why I would recommend cross-referencing your experiences with books is that they are diverse in perspective. You can spend a week reading a book on left-wing politics and then another week on right-wing politics. You read a book on scientific perfectives and then a book on a religious perspective. You can find books that tackle topics that you have never really considered before and may just find yourself finishing the book with a completely different perspective on reality.
This is exactly what I have been doing for the last year and I can tell you that it has really changed the way I think about the world in a variety of different ways.
Cross-referencing your experience in this way is an amazing thing to do because it gives you options. You are no longer tied in to one perspective but can choose elements of each perspective to build a more detailed mosaic of your life and the world we live in. The greater variety of books you read, the greater your field of vision becomes and with time you will be able to apply this abstract knowledge to your life situation.
You can change your life with books.
I have been reading self-help books recently. There is a stigma around self-help books. Not every self-help book is all that enlightening but if you can pick out the good ones, you will gain so much practical knowledge that can be used to shape a vision of your own life. I have found that reading these types of books have opened my eyes to things are crucial to my life that I never really considered before. Some examples for me include: work ethic, health and mindset optimization.
Of course, you can learn a whole lot of practical information from videos too and to be honest I have probably learned more overall from video content than I have from reading books, but one of the advantages that books have over video is that the format allows them to go deeper into specific topics rather than just giving surface level details. A great thing to do is use video content to explore different ideas and perspectives and then find good books on the topics you are interested in learning more about.
Remember the online world that we are living in is jam packed with people and organisations trying to get your attention in whatever way possible. You may be drawn in with a catchy headline but it doesn’t mean that the information provided will be of any use. Books on the other hand, because they are longer in form, tend to contain more thought provoking information. This isn’t always the case though – there are plenty of videos out there which are amazingly eye opening and plenty of books that are a waste of time. You need to work out which is which.
Also, keep in mind that video content is very new. Which means that pretty much all video content is influenced by modern biases in some way or another. On the other hand, you can go back and read books which are hundreds of years old – learning lessons from history and escaping the influence of the modern zeitgeist.
That’s about it for my views on why reading is important.
The things I’m talking about here are very real and are important to consider if you want to start living the type of life where you can think for yourself and make the right decisions for you own situation rather than being unknowingly influenced by external forces.
Going forward the main purpose of this blog and my YouTube channel is to promote and provide information on this self-directed way of living. A lifestyle that encourages individuality, creativity and independent thinking. I want to become a person who has a vastly open mind while simultaneously has a strong sense of personal boundaries. Someone who considers all perspectives but bows to none. I hope you choose to follow my journey!
I have never been one to own a lot of stuff. This was not something that happened out of circumstance but was a choice I made from a young age. The reason I have been able to make this choice and live a somewhat minimalistic lifestyle up to this point is that I understood the benefits of minimalism.
Before I talk about how to become a minimalist, I want to briefly discuss what I see as being the main advantage of living a minimalist lifestyle:
For me the greatest advantage of living a minimalist lifestyle is the freedom it gives you to easily take your life in any direction you choose. I would say that for me personally, the most important value in life is freedom. Without the freedom to make choices and change your situation, you are pretty much living as a slave. In this case, you are not writing your own story but are allowing it to be written for you by external forces.
You may have heard this Fight Club quote:
“The things you own end up owning you.”
This is so true and something to be very wary of.
The key issue here is that people don’t like change. Once someone becomes comfortable in their situation, it becomes difficult to break out and to choose a path that may provide less initial comfort but a far greater opportunity for growth and overall satisfaction in life. People literally become addicted to what they have and can’t see a life for themselves where they don’t have access to these luxuries which they have become accustomed to. This type of reliance on possessions and other creature comforts hold people back from achieving their full potential in life. They are scared to lose the things they have attained and therefore live a restricted life.
Another Fight Club quote:
“It’s only when you lose everything that you are free to do anything.”
People who take the opposite route and accustom themselves to a life with fewer possessions – or even the bare necessities – have an advantage over everyone else because not only do they not have physical possessions weighing them down but they are also more mentally resilient to the hardships of life as they have built up the reference experience of living without the luxuries that most other people rely on.
How to become a minimalist?
First, let me start my saying that you shouldn’t pursue this type of lifestyle if you don’t want to. There’s no point trying to live as a minimalist just because someone else told you that it’s a beneficial thing to do. You should assess your own life as it currently stands and work out whether living as a minimalist would improve your life in the long run. If the answer if no, then don’t do it. It’s only worth pursuing if you can see the benefits it would have on your own life.
After all, every person is living in a different situation and everyone person has different guiding values. In my opinion, the younger you are, the more valuable living a minimalist lifestyle becomes. A guy in his early twenties with no responsibilities and big ambitions is going attain a serious advantage for the rest of his life if he can train himself to live as a minimalist. However, a guy in his forties with a family to take care of might find this type of lifestyle to be more difficult and less essential to pull off. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a family man (or woman) in his forties can’t and shouldn’t move towards a minimalistic lifestyle – he probably should.
The main thing you should to do if you want to become a minimalist is to separate the possessions you NEED from everything else. And if you want to take this seriously, you should be strict when it comes to what falls into the need category. Don’t let the media and the years of being forced fed advertisements brainwash you into thinking you need something when you don’t. For every item that you put into the need category you should be able to verbalise its specific purpose.
To help you out here I will list out the items I am currently living with:
That’s it! Obviously, this list is going to be different to each person but I hope that my example above shows you that it’s more than possible to live with minimal possessions – I have relied on these items for the last year.
The important thing is not to get sentimental and not to get attached to those items you really don’t need.
If you don’t have many possessions in your life yet, resist the temptation of buying more for the sake of buying more – you will regret it. Only buy what you need to buy.
If your life is already jam packed with possessions, then you will need to start decluttering. After you have separated the needed items from the non-needed items you can focus on getting rid of everything on that second list. If you are hesitant about just throwing items away, you could take the opportunity to try and make some extra money for yourself using eBay. Sure, it’s a little bit of work but it will be completely worth it when all it said and done. Check out Gary Vaynerchuck’s video for more information on selling and profiting from your non-essential items:
It’s also worth considering down-sizing or down-grading bigger items in your life. Consider these questions: Do you really need a large house, or would you be just as happy living in a smaller apartment? Are you truly satisfied with your brand-new car? and I don’t mean satisfied for five-minutes but will that satisfaction sustain itself over a long enough period to make the car worth it for you?
There really is no right or wrong answer but these are just options for each individual to consider. Remember to base the choices on what YOU need and not what society says YOU SHOULD need. This is vital. Not just to live a minimalist lifestyle but to live a life you can truly call your own. A life that you find personally fulfilling. This is the main message I am trying to get across in every post I make here on my website…
And minimalism is just one slice of a much larger pie – the self-actualized life.
On my 3-month trip around Southeast Asia I visited five different countries including: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and The Philippines. I traveled slowly and managed to stop at a variety of different places within these countries. From tropical beaches to thick jungles, from historical sites to natural wonders, from big cities to small villages. I saw them all and everything in between. In this post, I am going to be listing my top 5 picks for the best places to travel in Southeast Asia.
I am only able to comment on the countries and places that I visited, so naturally this list is going to be shrouded in bias but there’s not much that I can do about that. Just take these five places as personal recommendations from someone to has traveled there. Enjoy!
PALAWAN – THE PHILIPPINES
The first place I visited and undoubtedly one of my favourites. Palawan is a province in the Philippines and home to two popular destinations– El Nido and Coron Island.
El Nido was the livelier of the two with some nice beaches close by and plenty of places to eat and drink. Coron was more relaxed and I personally found there to be more easily accessible activities in Coron such as markets, hot springs and an awesome mountain to climb with an amazing view.
Both destinations offer daily boat trips that allow you to explore other islands, lagoons and beaches around the area. If I had to pick one over the other – it would be Coron. I preferred the boat trip and I was also a big fan of the quieter, relaxed, atmosphere here.
Overall Palawan was a great first place to visit. The water, beaches and atmosphere are what you would probably visit for.
DONSOL – THE PHILIPPINES
The second Philippine destination on the list is Donsol – a small town in the south of Luzon. There is only one reason why people decide to visit Donsol and that reason is WHALE SHARKS.
Whale Shark boat trips take place every morning. Not only is it very likely that you are going to be able to see and swim with a whale shark in Donsol but it’s also incredibly cheap. I think I paid around $15 USD for a whole morning boat trip and once in a lifetime experience!
Donsol is a nice place to visit even without the whale shark attraction. You can explore the town, go and watch some fireflies at night and the ‘Woodland Beach Resort’ was probably the best hostel I stayed in throughout my entire trip.
SIEM REAP – CAMBODIA
Siem Reap is the best-known place on this list as it is home to the 7th wonder of the world – Angkor Wat.
Of course, Angkor Wat is a must see for anyone travelling Southeast Asia but the city of Siem Reap was also decent place to visit. Its jam packed with bars, restaurants and other entertainment – even went to see a movie here. I think there’s more day time activities too but I didn’t do them. I just chilled out, rode a bike through town, enjoyed the free breakfast and swam in my hostels pool.
KOH RONG SAMLOEM – CAMBODIA
I was personally really excited to visit the Koh Rong islands in Cambodia because I knew that the season of Survivor that was airing at the time (Survivor Koh Rong) had been filmed there. Despite this obvious reason why I would enjoy visiting the Koh Rong, it was also a fun time generally.
Staying on Koh Rong Saloem was the closest thing I have ever experienced to being stuck on a deserted island. Sure, there were some other tourists and a handful of (overpriced) restaurants but that was pretty much it. Shelter for the night consisted of a wooden hut on the beach. I spent all day lying on the beach and floating about in the bath-like sea.
I would recommend the island experience on Koh Rong for anyone visiting Cambodia (especially if you’re a Survivor fan)
DA LAT – VIETNAM
Da Lat was unlike anywhere else I visited while travelling Southeast Asia. The weather was refreshingly cool here due to the city being in Vietnam’s central highlands. It’s for this reason that Da La has earned the nickname “The City of Eternal Spring.”
Da Lat also had very different natural surroundings to what I had experienced in Southeast Asia up to that point. The expansive pine forests and lakes gave the city a very distinct European feel.
I spent quite a while in Da Lat because I liked it so much. It was nice just to walk around the city, drink the amazing local coffee and haggle with locals at the markets – I wasn’t very successful at the last one.
There were loads of adventure type activities on offer but I chose not to do many of them because my budget was dwindling at that point. However, for my birthday, I did decide to visit the local waterfall which was accessible by a long slide/rollercoaster down the side of a hill. That was pretty fun.
I have a love-hate relationship with books about writing. I have read quite a few books on writing – both novels and screenplays. While there have been times where the information in these books have really helped me to improve my writing, I have also found these types of books tend to stifle my creativity as I become far too focused on getting everything perfect based on what these books are telling me and therefore often lose touch with the bigger picture.
What makes Stephen King’s On Writing such a great book is that it doesn’t overwhelm the reader with rules. Instead, King acknowledges that there isn’t a whole lot he can teach us and approaches everything with a sense of flexibility. However, King also does offer plenty of golden advice that aspiring writers can learn from. I can see the improvement in my own writing after reading this book – which is all you can ask for.
The book is split up into two main sections, the first section is more of an autobiography, giving a detailed account of his younger years and the struggles leading up to getting his first novel (Carrie) published. The second half of the book concentrates on the craft and writing advice from King himself.
In my mind, if you are going to take writing advice from anyone there are few options better than Stephen King – a writer who has sold over 350 million books and is regarded as one of the most successful authors of our time.
The following are three insights from the book that I related with and found helpful.
1) Door Closed, Door Open
This piece of advice revolves around the various drafts you will naturally undertake when writing.
King suggests approaching the first draft with the doors closed. What he means here is that your first draft should be written for yourself. You should be telling yourself the story as you are writing rather trying to please an external audience.
He then goes on to say that the second draft should be crafted with the doors open. At this point you receive feedback and remove anything that you may have included in the story which isn’t really the story.
2) Paragraphs as building blocks
This is a simple piece of advice but I had never actually heard it before I read the book. King says that you should think of paragraphs as the building blocks of your story. You construct each paragraph with a defining purpose and then concentrate on using each paragraph to build a bigger picture. He also suggests using the technique of starting each paragraph with a sentence that overviews the entire thing and then expanding on that first sentence in the rest of the paragraph.
Since reading the book, I have tried applying this to my own writing and I have found that thinking about/using paragraphs in this way has really helped me to add structure and clarity to my writing. Thanks Stephen King!
3) Write everyday
The fact you should be writing everyday might be slightly obvious and advice that you may have heard before but the reasoning Stephen King gives for writing every day is what made this point interesting to me.
He says that if you are not writing every day you will quickly lose touch with the characters and plot of your story. I was thinking about this in relation to the work I have done in the past and it makes perfect sense. I have always found it difficult to finish what I start because my original spark of an idea – the characters and story that I have decided to create – tend to get lost over time and the process becomes stale for me. This insight opened my eyes to the fact that I am not writing with enough intensity or consistency which is one of the reasons I have found it difficult to produce results.
These are just three of the many golden nuggets of advice contained within Stephen King’s On Writing. The book has provided a lot of value to me as an aspiring writer and I would most certainly recommend this book for other writers out there. You can get the book here.
In today’s blog post I am going to be reviewing my travel backpack which I have had by my side since I left the UK back in early 2016. The backpack I’m referring to is the Osprey Farpoint 55.
I was initially hesitant to buy this backpack because it costs around $150.00 online and this seemed like quite a bit of money to pay for a backpack. However, there had not been a single day that I’ve regretted my choice to purchase this backpack. My Osprey has been reliable and convenient to use in every situation I have found myself in, from air travel, to overnight bus travel, to hosteling and even my everyday living here in Taiwan. A few months ago, I moved apartments and used this backpack to transport everything I owned to the new apartment. It was no problem at all.
Here are five reasons why you should consider the Osprey Fair point 55 if you are planning to travel abroad.
1) Extremely Durable
This backpack has been through some rough times with me – from the sandy shores of the Koh Rong Islands to the hectic streets of Vietnam – and there has not been a single tear or break in the pack (as of the time of writing). The zips are top quality and the straps are secure.
The durability of a travel backpack is important as it literally contains everything you own while travelling. If you buy a low-quality product, then you run the risk of it breaking halfway through your trip which would be a nightmare. You won’t have that problem with the Osprey Farpoint 55.
2) Detachable 15L backpack
The 55L backpack can be split up into two separate backpacks – the 40L and the 15L – this is one of my favorite things about the Osprey and was the initial reason I was drawn to it.
What I personally did (and what I would recommend to you) was use the 40L part of the backpack to store the bulk of my stuff such as clothing and toiletries, while I used the detectable 15L backpack to store my valuables, money, passport, laptop, phone etc. By separating the two I could keep the small backpack on me at all times which gave me the peace of mind of knowing that my valuable items were safe and secure. I could leave the bigger bag unchecked without having to worry as there were no valuable items inside. Some of the situations where this strategy came in useful included long bus rides where I could store the big backpack under the bus while keeping the smaller one on me and times where I wanted to explore an area on foot without having to carry a load of weight around.
3) Opens like a suitcase
Another amazing thing about the Osprey Farpoint is that it opens from the front in the same way you would open a suitcase. This is dissimilar to traditional backpacks which mostly open from the top.
The advantage this gives you is the ability to see and access everything contained in your backpack at once rather than having to dig to the bottom to find the one item you need. This design feature really was invaluable for organisation, smart packing and quick item retrieval.
4) Conveniently designed interior
Both the 40L and 15L sections of the backpack have great interior designs.
The 40L has a large section for bigger items such as clothing and then two zipped off smaller sections that can be used to store smaller items.
The detachable 15L section also has a bigger main section, a small zipped section, a laptop pocket, an exterior zipped front pocket and a back pocket.
The Osprey Farpoint also comes in 40L and 70L sizes but for me the 55L backpack was the perfect size. It is big enough to fit everything you would need for your travels with relative ease but small enough to avoid overpacking and becoming bogged down.
Both the 40L and 15L sections are also equipped with adjustable straps and waist belts that help keep the pressure off your back if you find yourself having to walk long distances with a fully loaded pack.
As someone who has relied on this backpack for quite a while, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for durability and convenience! It is most certainly worth the investment if you are planning to travel with just a backpack for an extended period. I personally used it in Asia but I’m going to travel Europe at the end of the year and will be using it there also.
You can check out the price and buy the Osprey Farpoint here.
All writers have different processes when it comes to creating their own stories. I have spent some time studying a variety of different writing resources – each offering differing advice on how to put together a “good” story.
While my writing has improved overall by learning from others, I am also very wary of becoming too caught up in this process. The reason for this is that writing, especially storytelling, is a creative process and should be treated as such. Bringing too much left brained thinking into the process of creating art will leave you with a lifeless story or even more likely no story at all. I know this because it is a trap I have been stuck in for years. I become so focused on getting the technical details right that I forget about the larger picture. I become so overwhelmed with the ways my writing is flawed that the act of writing turns into something utterly unenjoyable and I end up quitting.
On the other hand, it is probably not wise to reject learning about your craft completely. What learning from others does is allow you to save huge amounts of time by avoiding the pitfalls experienced by those who came before you. If you are not open to learning and are only focused on your own output, you will likely fall into many of these traps and your work will suffer from your ignorance. Eventually, you will still end up learning the same lessons from first hand experienced but the time it will have taken you to do this could have been avoided with slightly more research.
Like pretty much everything in life; it’s a balancing act. It has taken me years to figure this out but my current theory is that you should dedicate plenty of time to learn as much as you can about writing and storytelling while simultaneously taking EVERYTHING that you learn with a grain of salt. There are no absolutes.
Keep the advice, the concepts and the so called ‘rules’ in the back of your mind but never feel like you must stick to them. Use whatever it is that you feel fits naturally with your style of writing but never comprise your own style because of some rule you have read in a book or on a blog post. You know what works and you know what doesn’t. Stick to your educated intuition and you’ll be ok, kid.