Last week, Luke from http://www.thehappyhobos.com/ ; did an interesting interview with me about life on the road, here it for anyone that hasn’t seen it.
There is a rare breed of traveler who live life on the road full time, truly becoming citizens of the world. Rose is one of those. She lives mostly without money and makes the little she does need through selling handmade jewellery. After being gone for 11 years, she has a lot of wisdom to share on living freely and consciously as a traveler.
Originally from Australia, she moved to Latin America when she was just 15, and has since travelled in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean – locations not as well-beaten by travellers. So I was keen to catch up with her and have a chat.
Me: It’s rare that you come across someone who travels in the way you do. Where do you come from and what did you do in your previous life as a ‘normal’ person?
Rose: I was born in Sydney, Australia. But I don’t consider myself of any nation or any peoples, I am of the world and feel at home everywhere.
Me: The traveler’s way of thinking! What first inspired you to travel?
Rose: When I was 13, a lady came to our high school and spoke about the opportunity of student exchange programs where you live in another country and learn another language and it excited me so much that I applied, won a scholarship and left when I was 15.
Me: Amazing, so young. Trains intimidated me in my own country at that age! Where and when did you start your travels and where have you been since?
Rose: The exchange program I did in 2004 to Costa Rica was the beginning of it all. Since then I’ve spent a total of 6 years in Latin America, and then time in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and now the Caribbean!
Me: I bet Latin America feels like home. How did you pay for your first trip?
Rose: I won a scholarship for my exchange program and then when I came back to Sydney, I worked in a bar on the weekends while I finished high school to save cash for my first solo trip. I left 2 days after my final school exams with enough cash to travel for 2 years.
Me: So you spent a long time away at first! How did it feel when you first left home?
Rose: It was really exciting. I was just so eager to get out and see the world and what it had in store for me. I love and embrace change and feel like I always have. A lot of humans continue to listen to their egos and are afraid of the unknown but it makes me feel alive, awake and excited.
Me: Very true! How long have you been leading a nomadic lifestyle now?
Rose: It’s been 11 years since I started travelling. However, for many years I thought (probably like a lot of my friends and family) that I was just “on a trip” and would someday “come back to reality” as people say. People would ask me where I was from or where my home was and I would answer “Australia”- but after a while it felt more and more like a false statement. I think maybe about 5 years ago I realized that this is just how I live and that there’s no other reality.
Me: When I was away people always talked about going back to ‘the real world.’ Gets a bit tedious right? Did you plan on making this a full time thing?
Rosy: You can’t plan anything. Practice acceptance and non-resistance and you’ll feel happiness.
Me: What would you say your style of travel is?
Rose: Slow. Free. Nomadic.
I have complete freedom. I move when and where I want. I like slow overland travel. I couchsurf, camp, hitchhike/ boat-hitchhike and dumpster dive (when possible) and my basic philosophy is stay if I like the energy and move when I don’t. I try to stay in most countries for at LEAST 3 months but sometimes I stay longer if I’m interested in learning the local language and sometimes I leave before that if I don’t like the vibes.
Me: Travelling slowly must mean you’ve sometimes had to stay in one place for a while. How was that?
Rose: I’ve never HAD to stay in one place for a while. I’ve chosen to stay in some countries for longer (was in Brazil for 1.5 years) but the longest I’ve ever been in the same city for (since I finished school) is one year.
I enjoy getting to know places in more detail, meeting the locals, learning their slang, creating relationships and building a community. You gain a lot from that experience. A lot of people think that takes years, but you can do it quickly if you’re observant, outgoing and socially mature. Being observant of your surroundings when you’re a traveler is NOT an option, it’s a MUST. You can build all that in a matter of months, you don’t need years. I have communities of friends all over the globe that I hold dear in my heart.
Me: Sounds like you’ve had some amazing experiences! Care to share one?
Rose: This question is too difficult to answer. My journey has taken me to some of the most beautiful places on Earth and I’ve been blessed with the presence and energy of some incredible beings. A child’s innocent smile or the soft sounds of leaves moving in the breeze or the flickering of flames on a fire can be the most human and spiritually inspiring moment, and touch your soul so gently. Any story could never rightfully portray the peace and bliss you feel from living freely and consciously- that way of life is and continues to be the most amazing experience I have every single day.
Me: Okay okay! I need to find a new question as no one knows how to answer that.. beautiful answer though. What about a bad experience?
Rose: This is the question that I get asked the most. It concerns me. People absorb too much media and have a misconception that the world is a bad place. Bad news makes good news unfortunately.
The world is an amazing place, safe and beautiful and full of good souls. If you truly believe this, live in the present and observe nature- you become really good at picking up on energies and will never encounter “bad experiences” because your energy alone will repel them.
In addition- “bad experiences” by definition DO NOT exist. You’re attitude towards the experience, your ego and your unconscious mind perceive it to be bad based on logic rooted in your social conditioning.
In truth, all experiences are positive because they shape and transform you into a more awake, enlightened and conscious person.
Me: That’s so true. Even bad experiences when you’re away seem like more of a lesson to help you grow. Have you ever felt at risk in your travels?
Rose: I was arrested in Tchad and don’t speak a lot of Arabic. Whenever I’m in a country where I don’t speak the local language I feel much more at risk. I’ve had a few moments when people have tried to assault me or attack me and I definitely did feel at risk. My mind’s reaction to the situation was “you could get hurt here, defend yourself” so I definitely “felt” at risk during the moment. I don’t shy away from risks. If I never took risks I wouldn’t know all that I do.
Me: What’s been your favourite country and why?
Rose: Can I give 3? Pleeeeaaassseee?
Palestine – mind-blowingly different from whatever stereotype you have in your head about the place
Brazil- because the people there really understand how to live freely and how to build community
Cameroon- living in Cameroon really taught me the perfect blissful beauty of living simply and I’m forever grateful for that.
Me: Really interesting that you’ve travelled in Palestine, what was your experience of it compared to what the media tells us? Did you encounter any of the conflict?
Rose: I didn’t experience any conflict in Palestine. I had an incredible experience and met amazing people. I couchsurfed with a guy who ran an NGO, a gay buddist who ran a cocktail bar and a filmmaker, all in different cities/ villages. I felt safe and I felt love from the palestinian people. I visited Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, etc. I hitchhiked and couchsurfed and it was easy enough.
Me: Amazing! What about your least favourite country then?
Rose: Your opinion about a place or a country is just a result of whatever experience you had there. If you go to Paris (one of the most beautiful cities in the world) and meet crappy people and have a crappy time, you’ll go away with a negative image of the place. Whereas you could end up in the middle of nowhere in a deserted town and meet a couple of AWESOME people with great, vibrant energy, have a blast, and go away with a super positive image of the place. So it’s really about the energy of the people then it is about the “place”.
I can’t think of anywhere where I had a terrible time- but I tend to avoid tourist traps like Cancun or Ibiza- those places have a very low vibration and are filled with negative energy, which I choose not to absorb.
Me: Very true, it’s always the people who make the experience. How do you continue to pay for your travels?
Rose: I spend VERY little money when I travel. And the little money I need I get by selling art that I create. I make macramé jewelry and sell it on the beach or in a plaza.
Me: Do you think money plays a big part in how much you enjoy your trip?
Rose: Not at all. If I have it I might choose to use it. If I don’t have it, that’s cool, I have other means of getting what I need. In Brazil I lived for a period without it at all and it was incredibly liberating, realizing that you don’t need this thing that you’ve been so conditioned to believe you do.
Your basics are accommodation, transportation, food and water. So if you’re camping, hitching and dumpster diving you literally don’t need money for anything. You can also trade and barter either something you have or something you can do/ provide for someone.
I think of money as a tool that makes some things easier- but not necessarily more enjoyable. If you have a swiss army knife, you can do a lot of cool things with it and save a lot of time. But what if you didn’t have it? Well you’d still get everything done, maybe you’d borrow a knife from a fisherman, maybe open your beer bottle with a spoon or the side of the steps…you figure things out and become more resourceful and more creative. You walk instead of catching transport so you observe more and meet more interesting people and become orientated with the place. If you have a lot of time money becomes of a much lesser value.
In response to the question, I think lack of money plays a really important role in how I travel. If I had a lot of it, I really don’t think I’d enjoy travelling like I do, it would be too easy, really monotonous and nothing of a challenge.
Me: Interesting way of looking at it. When you very occasionally need money, what’s the worst thing you have had to do for it?
Rose: Bartending in Sydney. Pretending to be someone that I wasn’t and not holding true to my values. Throwing away food/ alcohol and contributing to so much waste.
I decided a very long time ago that I would never do anything for money. If I do something that results in my acquiring dollar bills, it’s never the money that is the main objective. For that reason and to keep it true, I give away a lot of art, especially to children and sell all my art at a massively undervalued price, to make sure that the $$ is not my motivation for getting out there.
Me: It definitely changes the way you travel if money plays a central role. It’s more about how much something costs as opposed to the experience that will be had. What are the biggest challenges with this lifestyle?
Rose: Being away from my family and people that I love is definitely emotionally straining at times. Not being able to have a solid romantic relationship is the one thing that makes me think I would like to stop moving so much one day. It’s hard to find other people that live in a similar way- partly because there’s not too many of us but also because we generally keep a low profile.
Me: You say it’s hard to fine people who live like you – what would be your best advice for meeting nomads on the road? Does it really matter if you’re absorbed in the local culture?
Rose: The best way to meet other nomads is just on the road living life. I’ve often met them and moved with some people for a little while. These days there’s a lot of social networks online that make meeting people like that a little easier (alternative lifestyles, sailing communities, permaculture communities, rainbow family, couchsurfers etc).
And no, it doesn’t really matter, nothing matters at the end of the day. My intention is always to experience the local culture and community, but sometimes its emotionally beneficial to have someone with a similar outlook to reflect and meditate with.
Me: Do you regret not following the traditional life – get a job, a house, a mortgage, etc?
Rose: Not at all. The above things have never been things that I personally felt would make me happy so I’ve never pursued them and don’t intend to unless they become things that I believe would make me happy.
Me: What about travelling solo – does it get lonely? How do you deal with it?
Rose: It doesn’t get lonely. If you desire it, you will always be meeting people and making friends. I love meeting people and am happy to be around new people but I do enjoy my solitude so whenever I get it, I embrace it. I love reading, writing, exploring, swimming, playing guitar, making art, meditating, and these are all things I do alone.
If you are a person that is not comfortable and peaceful in your own company, I personally consider that very emotionally and spiritually unhealthy, and I would consider working on that before you take off travelling solo. Or heck, jump on a plane and force yourself into it!
Me: Very good point – not being happy in your own company seems to be a symptom of modern life. Do you get homesick much?
Rose: I don’t get homesick in the sense that I miss the land of Australia- because I consider it a useless thing to feel. Home will always be home and always be there to indulge in so I choose not to miss it and rather BE completely wherever I am physically.
I do miss my family though- mainly when something or someone reminds me of them. It might be a song on the radio, or a smell at a market, or something someone says…and it will remind me of someone I love and I miss them. I just think about them for a moment and send them good energy.
Me: What keeps you going when you are missing family and friends or when you’re not liking a place?
Rose: Vegemite!! No, in serious, meditation and just spending time in nature. Nature heals all. And love heals all. I’m never spending time in a place I’m not liking because if I don’t like the energy in a place I always move on.
Me: Seems like your style of travel has opened you up to a lot of wisdom. What would you say you’ve learnt?
Rose: The real answer to this would take up pages. But in short, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and others and about this gorgeous organism that is the planet. The only thing really worth doing in life is loving. And in order to love fully, you must be healthy.
Growing up I was taught to focus a lot of attention on my physical health (nutrition, exercise, drinking fresh water, taking care of my skin etc). This is obviously important, but travelling around and living in different cultures has taught me not to neglect and to focus also on my emotional, mental and spiritual health and I’ve been blessed with a great deal of guidance and growth in all 3 of these aspects of my health.
Me: Being healthy is definitely a lot more important than many people think! What would you say to anyone reading this who is thinking about hitting the road?
Rose: Now has never been a better time. These days, with social networking on the web, travelling in alternative ways and (in particular) travelling nomadically without money, has NEVER been easier. More and more communities are popping up all over the globe. People think the world is in chaos and on the brink of disaster but in truth, we live in beautifully fascinating times.
More and more beings across the globe are waking up every day. More and more people are realizing that the social system that we’ve created (around money- a tool invented VERY recently) doesn’t work. It’s not human and it negates the fact that we’re innately connected to each other and to this earth.
The BEST way for you to understand this, is to observe nature. And the best way to observe nature, to REALLY observe it, is to step out of your daily environment, step away from distractions of all that social conditioning and get lost amongst the humanness that still exists all over the world. It exists in the smile of a friendly shopkeeper, it exists in the ocean breeze, it exists in the blessing of rain and in the laughter of love. And most importantly it exists in silence. Silence of the mind and of the ego.
We’re here to support each other because your success and happiness is also mine to rejoice in. We are one. If you need more inspiration or advice I and many more nomads are more than happy to be there for you.
Me: So inspirational, thanks Rose!