Thinking Outside the Cube: Finding Happiness in Travel
Vino Vagabonds asked me a while back if I would be interested in doing a guest post.
I replied that I did not know what I would write about.
I think it was Jeff who replied back, "It sounds like you were unhappy in the US, and you are now happier traveling." Something along those lines.
I reflected back. "Was I that unhappy in the US?"
The answer was yes.
So, when Bush bailed out the banks, I began planning on bailing out of the USA.
Lots of politics, economics and activity being observed over the last 40 years. Too much to go into great detail. The conclusion was that the bailouts of the banks were just the beginning of a downward spiral.
I was not going to support it with my tax dollars.
I am single, I let my house go back to the bank. The numbers for equity, falling real estate prices did not add up to any benefit for me. It was financially wise to let the house go back to the bank. With that decision made, the question was, "Self, whatcha gonna to do now?"
Reflecting back over the years, I found that traveling was what I enjoyed doing most. I was not happy running restaurants. I was not happy selling cars. I was not happy driving a truck. (The last job I had before I left). I was bored and disconnected. I lived in Carrollton, and knew very few people. I existed there for 8 long years, no friends to speak of and nothing to keep me there.
After two years of no mortgage payments, the bank finally foreclosed on the house. I had vacation time and pay coming up in 2 months. So I hung around in a long-term hotel rental for two months until my vacation time arrived. Then off I went on my journey, heading towards Mexico.
Let me explain right here - I had no idea what the internet had to offer. I had a miniscule idea of what to do. In other words, I had no idea on how to make money to finance my trip.
So far, I have traveled through all the countries in Central America, ending as far south as I could drive - Yaviza, Panama. This is where the Pan-American Highway ends in Panama. From here you either fly or take a boat to pick it up again in Columbia.
I have now been traveling in Central America for over 1 year.
Here are a few of the questions that Jeff and Brittany posed when asking me to write this article.
1) You state that the system in the United States is 'anti-happiness'. How have you become closer to finding happiness since beginning your travels? I'll tell you two - I have met some great people and seen sites that blew me away. So, the only thing holding back happiness is lack of income. If I could achieve income from the blog the answer would be yes - I have found more happiness traveling.
There are so many needs just in Central America. Given an income, one could change lives here dramatically. A minor detail that will be solved!
2) So far on your trip, what place have you connected to the most and why? I loved El Estor, Guatamala. Just a quaint village that has been around for hundreds of years, untouched by tourists. A large mining plant has touched it, but is now closed down. Lots of things could be accomplished in this town to make a good life. The hosts at the Hotel Calle Real made it a place that I would like to get back to.
Santa Ana, El Salvador was another - the host of the Hostel, Carlos, made the stay an exceptional one. Lots of things to do and see outside of the town. I'd enjoy returning there.
3) What do you hope to get out of your travels? How do you want to impact the people and communities you visit? I just love seeing new sites - that is why I travel. I'd love to impact the communities and people I come into contact with, but after a year of travel, I know it will be minimal. Even long-term, you are talking about changing people's ways of thinking and traditions. It is a long process that I will affect very little in my visits.
4) What advice do you have for other people unhappy with their lives and situation in the US? I would suggest looking outside "the box". The US Government allowed the financial calamity to occur. It was in their best interest, their constituents be damned. The US Government is not the friend of the taxpayer. So, US citizens are living in a country that is anti-taxpayer - anti-middle class.
Robert Dale said it best, "I wanted to pursue the American Dream, but I could not do it in America" He operates a hotel and brewery in Honduras. (He owns the only micro brewery in Honduras)
Are you an artist? I met a woman in Guatemala that is a painter and sell her works over the internet worldwide.
How about a grocery store? I met a woman who runs an International Gourmet Store in Panajachel.
Restaurants and hotels? Many are owned by ex-pats here in Central America.
Know haw to bake? Bakeries are in big demand throughout Central America. Believe it or not, a good loaf of bread is very difficult to find in most towns.
Arts and crafts? I know a fellow in Honduras that would take a designer on board in the heart beat of a hummingbird. OR set up a factory for arts and craft production.
I know a fellow who set up a hotel, restaurant and hardware store for less than $50,000. He is the place to go for the locals to get supplies and the best meal in town.
All the businesses that one would set up in the US are needed throughout Central America: mass production of chicken, a cattle rancher and farmer.
The nice thing about Central America, if the right place is picked, it is so much cheaper than the US. Hot and cold water are easily available as is air conditioning, if you can stand the cost of electricity to run it . One can have all the comforts of the US, at a fraction of the cost.
Governments have incentives to set up businesses here. Tax breaks are given, there is tax-free zones and much less government regulations. For those dissatisfied with their way of life in the US, Central America might be worth investigating.
So, to sum up - am I happy I left? Yes Could I have planned it better? Yes Am I planning on returning to the United States soon? Not if I can help it!
Think outside the box, there are ways to finance travels through out the world and the world needs smart people to improve the lives of many.
To read more about John's 'Big Mozey' outside the box, you can find him at the following places: