Back in junior high, Tommy Walker always had this vision to travel the world, although he was probably a little confused about how to describe it at the time. He remembers looking at the back row of his fellow classmates during assembly one day, and thinking to himself, "I'm not going to be here in the future, I'll be somewhere else." Fast-forward two decades, and you'd expect him to be married, paying mortgages, and busy with a 9-to-5 career job as his everyday life.
Instead, having just turned 30, he has managed to visit nearly 50 countries and has become a professional travel writer, with a social reach of over 160,000. His travels gave him a bigger and better outlook on life.
Who's to say we can't do something? Who's to say we have to be like everyone else?
Here are his eight pieces of sage wisdom, thanks largely to his travels.
1. Life is not about age
Age doesn't matter at all in life, all that matters is what you've done or what you're doing. Forget the correct order you might think everything needs to be in. What matters is what you are and where you're going.
2. Your biggest investment is yourself
The person that makes things happen is you. Network, make new friends, and adapt to new environments, but most importantly, take it all in. Everything is an experience.
3. Every new place is a good place
Forget comparisons--a new place is a privilege, so treat it like you're opening your eyes for the first time. Embrace the novelties, look out for the small things, and enjoy the ride.
4. Choose more experiences over material things
An ex-colleague once told Walker, "The novelty of purchasing material things lasts for three weeks or so, then you're stuck with them". Experiences last forever, and what we can extract from experiences gives us better skills. There is no better way to obtain life experience than to travel. The relatable skills are something you can transfer to your life and career with no limits.
5. The world is full of good people
It doesn't matter what nationality, culture, or religion we come from--the world is full of good people. Most want to help you with nothing in return, so don't forget that--we are just humans with different databases of information.
6. Don't be blasé, travel isn't meant to be easy
We see all the images on Instagram and think the travel life is one big beautiful bubble. Traveling--real traveling--has many parts that you have to be mentally and physically strong for. Seeing a world different from your own environment is what it's all about, and that means going off the beaten track.
7. Remove expectation
With every situation, the ability to have no expectation is a true skill. Never compare and always look for the positives in every little thing. People always told Tommy that some travel destinations are boring, but when he's visited one (such as Paraguay in 2015) he made the little moments bigger than they were. He specifically recalls that finding a rundown sausage sandwich stall that sold beer for a total of $3 was a true find whilst visiting an eerily empty abandoned church--and it was beautiful.
8. Prioritize your happiness
Whether you are traveling or working in a typical job, happiness is most important. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, why keep doing it? If you have the choice, be happy. You see people working inhumane hours for a bigger paycheck, just for the little time they can spend it to make them happy. Why not find a way of life or job that makes you happy every day?
A Final Ethos
Walker's ethos is infectious and challenges the status quo on the traditional lens on life.
"For many of us, there is nothing written in the stars that says we have to live life a certain way. We have a choice. In a world that expects us to perform many roles, travel allows us to be ourselves."
Well said, Walker, well said. Time to pack your bags, folks.