This morning I got a message from a famous Hungarian travel blogger from backpacker.hu. She was currently in Colombia and saw I was too. As luck would have it, we were both in the town of Taganga so in less than 10 minutes after receiving her message, we met up. She connected me with the entire travel blogging community in Hungary, introducing me to important people and practical tips. What are the chances?

I always meet the right people at the right time. Travelling had been by far the best thing for friendships, business, learning and self-development.

What’s in it for me/them?

As much as it sounds troublingly simple and raw, I always ask myself when I meet someone what kind of relationship can this become? The answer boils down to two options:

  1. I benefit big time
  2. They benefit big time

Either way value is exchanged and our encounter was written by destiny. On many occasions when I’ve been picked up hitchhiking, the driver tells me how they envy the way I live and wants to do the same thing. So I give them a head start by sharing the knowhow of backpacking, and guess what:

When I went to Madrid and met the guy….

Before I left Europe and crossed the Atlantic ocean by hitchhiking a boat (video here) I went to see my friend in Madrid. On the second night I found a MeetUp happening for the local startup community and I thought to myself, tonight all the ambitious, funded, smart and success-hungry people will meet for drinks, I have to be part of this!

In my mind, I knew I had to find someone who can help me with video editing and – with no exaggeration – the first gentleman I talked to is currently developing an interactive, automatic video editing software for GoPro and phone footage. Exactly what I was looking for! In exchange for valuable marketing tips, he promised to give me the finished product for free.

Yes. I was just as surprised as you are now.

FREE for everyone

We all like things that are free. In fact, in the marketing world, this is one of the most recommended words to use when you are selling a product or service. There is nothing more valuable than free information. By being social, helpful and expecting nothing in return I get more than I ever imagined. When I arrive at a new hostel, the first thing I do is talk to everyone who is staying there and invite them out for the evening.

We share our travel stories and give each other suggestions. We teach each other about how to save money here and there. As a low budget nomad, this information is nothing but gold to me. I don’t have to spend hours and hours on TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet or WikiTravel. In fact, I spend one hour with each traveller and I already know everything about the whole continent. Honestly I don’t like researching online. This way, I save myself precious time and invest in human relationships. Which is why I’m hardly ever with only new people, as sooner or later an acquaintance will show up at my current location.

Here is a list of things I’ve received for free through simply networking:

  • Ended up in the best hostel of my life on the Dominican Republic
  • Got my first paying writing gig
  • Was introduced to the entire Hungarian travel community
  • Saved hundreds of dollars on flights, bus tickets, food and accommodation
  • Got invitations to the house of dozens of locals
  • Free lunches
  • Free video editing software
  • Free beers all the time
  • Volunteering job in a hostel
  • Love (even if due to circumstances it didn’t last for as long as it could have)
  • Countless new friends and a soulmate
  • Business partners

I could carry on with the list, but you get the idea of what are the benefits of networking while travelling.

Because you are on the road and mostly staying in hostels, you get to meet thousands of people with different backgrounds and life stories, different skills and existing networks sharing their ideas, experiences and time. Where or how else would you find such an extensive opportunity?

Travelling is an investment

That’s right. Those who never travelled view the nomad as an irresponsible hippie who doesn’t want to pay taxes and save for retirement. Well, to these people I say: Goodbye. Many conversations are not worth having when you know you’re just going to hit a brick wall of closed minded people, but it’s not your responsibility to open their minds up anyway. Just move on.

I tell you what being a hippie nomad means to me and to everyone on the road. It means the present and the future. During an adventure I feel completely worry-free. No weight on my shoulders. Happy. Confident. Brave. Happy.

On the road I get to network like crazy and ultimately, invest in my future. I discover locations where I find myself feeling at home, – which is why I’m staying in Colombia for 3 months even though my family asked me to stay away from this country – discover new job opportunities, and I might find out about a school or a mayor I never heard of and make friends rapidly.

Since I began the biggest adventure of my life, I clarified my life goals, I set tangible targets, I practised a language for free, I immersed myself in international culture, learnt about adapting to cultural differences, I mastered human verbal and nonverbal communication, I learnt to socialise better and effectively, I surrounded myself with people with similar interests and mindset and so much more. But you know all this by now if you have been reading the previous blog posts.

Do you still think I’m just here for fun, spending my money that I should keep for 40+ years for the time I’m wrinkled and retired? I will never become that person. I won’t retire because there is nothing to retire from. I already set my goals and I do what I love more than anything. You can’t retire from life.

Now I’m working on making a living out of my passion and it’s just the beginning. It’s risky to only stand on one foot – as in having an income from only one source – so I’m building towards a stable and relatively safe life where my job fits the lifestyle I chose, and not the other way around.

I’m creating my own job, my own life.

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