The travel world is made up of hundreds of different types of people from everywhere. People travel. More than you probably think. And in more ways than you might have realized. Over the years I certainly have learned of creative ways people travel that I never even thought about!
This feature is a place for travelers of all types to share their story. How do you travel? What type of upbringing did you have? What led you to decide you’d like to have travel in your life? Do you come from a family of travelers or are you the first one to really break the mold? What drives you to get up and go to work so you can fund your travels?
Hearing people’s travel stories is one of my favorite things to do when I am on the road. No two people have the same background or the same travel style. And there are so many different ways people work and save for travel! If you would like to be featured and share YOUR STORY please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And with that, let’s meet this week featured traveler –
Hi, my name is: Marek Bron. I TRAVEL. This is my story.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from and where did you grow up?
My name is Marek, I’m from the Netherlands (though my name is Polish, from my Polish mother). I grew up in Haarlem, a small city just a stone’s throw from Amsterdam. Fun fact: this is actually what Harlem in the U.S. derives its name from, back when New York was known as New Amsterdam! But we just write it with two a’s.
I lived in the UK for a bunch of years, then spent two years travelling around the world. I’ve just recently made Lisbon my new base, and from here I expect to travel a lot around Portugal and Spain, as well as making more trips to places further away.
Do you come from a family of travelers? Summer vacations? No vacations?
I spent many summer vacations with my family camping, often in France, and usually somewhere in the Alps. I have many fond childhood memories of going on mountain hikes, exploring cute French villages with little churches, building dams in mountain streams, or having stone-grilled BBQ above a campfire under a star-filled sky.
We usually stayed in one spot for a few weeks, so this wasn’t the sort of globe-trotting adventuring I got into eventually, but these family vacations were hugely formative. I think my parents taught me to be observant and to appreciate spending time in nature. I feel fortunate to have seen a lot of Europe from an early age.
When did you start traveling?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment… every time I’m asked this question my mind jumps back to a different point! There are a lot of ‘firsts’. For example, buying a crappy old car with some friends and driving it from the Netherlands to Hungary in my student years, or flying to California solo when I was 17 to meet a bunch of people I only knew from the internet. (That was a geeky trip; I went to a video game expo and then somehow ended up getting a tour of Skywalker Ranch, the place where Star Wars was made.)
But if you mean travelling long-term, that started in 2012. I was made redundant at my job at the time, and since I had received a severance package I thought I’d just spend two months in Thailand. I mostly imagined as spending time on a beach and maybe working on my CV, but instead I got caught up in the magic of travelling, and I ended up travelling for 2 years mainly through Asia and Latin America. I never touched that CV.
I started my blog Indie Traveller near the beginning of that particular journey, and it just gradually became a bigger and bigger thing. The blog is now my full-time job and so I work from wherever there is WiFi.
What is your travel style? Do you maximize all your vacation time from a job? Do you just quit jobs to travel? Are you able to work remotely? Are you a weekend warrior who maximizes their time?
My travel style changes depending on my situation. I’ve had phases where I worked full-time and just had to squeeze all my travelling into a few weeks a year. I’ve also travelled continuously for a pretty long time. Right now things are somewhere in between, as I’m trying to find a balance between living in one place but also being able to go on longer trips from time to time. I’ve been able to achieve this by working remotely/online on my blog, as well as doing some supplemental freelance work.
More generally speaking my style now is to travel slowly, and to focus on seeing fewer things better instead of trying to see a million things superficially. This is true when I’m travelling long-term but also on shorter trips. I think maybe in the beginning I was more eager to see all the famous sights and cram lots of stuff into an itinerary, but now I often find it more interesting to hurry less so I can look beyond just the usual sights. I think it’s easy to kind of ‘overcook’ your trips, and I’ve gotten into slow-cooking it more.
What motivates your travels? Do you tend to have a focus during your travels?
My main motivation is simply to have interesting experiences. There is sometimes an element of holiday-style relaxation as well, and I won’t say no to a beautiful beach or a lazy hammock. But generally I try to lean in and explore. I like a mix of nature and cities, and I sometimes look for adventure activities as well (scuba diving, paragliding, that sort of thing).
How do you fund your travels?
Initially through savings and redundancy money, though this slowly changed to getting an income through my website, royalties from my how-to book about travelling, and the odd freelance job.
What has been one of your most memorable travel experiences?
There are so many that I can’t pick one. Epic landscapes usually stick in my mind, such as the salt flats in Bolivia or seeing sunrise high above the clouds on Tajamulco volcano in Guatemala. I’m also often reminded of the times when I was invited by random strangers to eat with them or celebrate a local festivity. I have so many memorable travel experiences now that I put a lot of them into one post: 91 lessons learned from 2 years of travelling. It’s a fun one to check out and it’s sure to inspire some wanderlust.
What is a next destination you are so excited to see?
I’m considering a bunch of ideas, but I think the Balkans is going to be the next region for me to explore. I’ve been to Croatia twice before, but I’m especially excited to visit countries like Bosnia, Slovenia and Albania for the first time.
What words of wisdom do you wish to share with other people who are wanting to include more travel in their lives?
Hmm, well, if you want to have more travel in your life, you should make it a priority. Maybe that sounds silly but that’s often what it boils down to. Stop daydreaming and stop looking at other people’s Instagram accounts and get out there yourself.
Travel is of course an enormous privilege, and it’s undoubtedly easier for some to do than for others. BUT… at the end of the day, travel is also a mindset. If you don’t get enough holidays, start by going on weekend trips. If you don’t have enough money, get creative. I funded my first trips as a teenager delivering newspapers and writing video game reviews on the internet. There’s people out there traveling for like $15 a day by being resourceful and choosing the cheapest countries, while others go around the globe just by hitchhiking or couchsurfing. I’m not saying that’s the way you should do it too; the point is simply that travel can take many different forms. If you want to have more travel in your life, the first step is to stop saying ‘someday’ and to start learning and start traveling now… and do it in whatever way you can!
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