A year ago I left everything behind to travel alone. This is how my life looks like today.

Spain, 2015. Picture by Alejandro de Lahoz.


Soon it will be a year since the day I got on a plane, shaking like a baby, wondering if I was making a disastrous mistake as I left my confused family waving behind in the boarding lounge. I was sacrificing nearly all I had for this blind adventure - 3 months travelling across the United States on my own with very little money. For a moment, I thought about turning around and calling the whole thing off. Now, a day doesn't go by without me being thankful that I didn't.

 

"This morning I've left Spain, terrified and broken-hearted [...] I'm afraid of having made a mistake. Maybe this will be a disaster, a failure [...] I feel so alienated [...] I feel alone."

 

17/10/2014

 

"I'm coming back to Spain after three months of growth, exploration and adventure. I'm full of thankfulness, vital lessons, new ideas, color. This journey has changed my life [...] I can see myself more clearly than ever [...] Everything seems so little from up here, except from love - love is gigantic, marvellous and so, so simple that I'm about to burst out laughing".

 

12/01/2015

 


Those are just tiny extracts from my adventure journals, which silently witnessed the greatest experience of my life. So, to celebrate its first anniversary and encourage you to embark in a similar odyssey if the thought has ever crossed your mind, here's what this nomadic journey gave to me.

 

Every place is a playground if you have the right attitude. (Dublin airport, January 2015)
Every place is a playground if you have the right attitude. (Dublin airport, January 2015)

 

I realized how little money I actually need to live and finally moved out of my parents' house

 

Travelling with barely any money taught me how little we need to live. Have you ever taken a look at your room and thought of what you really need? I seriously believe that hitting the road with a minimum budget is one of the strongest anti-capitalist pills one can take. When consumption becomes your Plan Z at the end of the long line of options such as sharing, exchanging and doing it yourself, you become a freer person. One of the first things I did as soon as I arrived home was putting two thirds of my clothing in bags and donating them. The feeling was so relieving that I started getting rid of many other belongings.

 

The less you need, the more you have. It's that simple. Today, I earn way less than the minimum wage here in Spain and I am living in a nice apartment in the centre of Madrid with two wonderful roommates. We take abandoned furniture from the streets and exchange what we don't need. Hearing these stories, sometimes my worried family still gives me homemade food from time to time because they are afraid I'm living in sort of an "extreme" way. But I'm not. I consider myself quite privileged.*

*Activist side note in this not-so-activist post: however privileged I may be, it is still outraging that I earn less than the minimum wage in Spain, especially considering that I work four mini-jobs and that I am a college graduate. This is the situation of thousands of people here and many have had to emigrate. Keep protesting, pals. Stuff is messed up.

 

This is how my room looked like when I just moved in, back in March.
This is how my room looked like when I just moved in, back in March.

 

I learned so much about myself that now putting me down has become a pretty difficult task

 

Three months of basic survival decision-taking, such as "How am I going to get to my next destination?", "Is this person reliable as to leave all my stuff at their house?" or "How much should I spend on food this week in order to buy some more next week?" have given me a whole different perspective of myself. First of all, as I tried to make the wisest decision each time, I kept making mistakes. Overplanning, underplanning, wasting, underspending - all of these taught me useful lessons for the future. However, more importantly, they also taught me to be less harsh on myself when making the wrong choice.  I am a human being. I make mistakes. And so this lesson stuck with me forever: it is not our mistakes that define us, but our attitude towards solving them.

 

The more you know yourself, the more you respect yourself. And the more you respect yourself, the harder it will be for other people to hurt you. And, at risk of sounding as a self-help book or a crappy commercial, I must say that embracing my imperfections made them smaller and more easily forgivable (and improvable). Self-acceptance killed all my unnecessary fears just like video killed the radio star.*


*Yeah, sorry for the terrible joke. I did not learn to make better jokes on the road. And now that song might be stuck in your head. Sorry about that too.

 

"Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere." Bridgton, Maine (November 2014)
"Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere." Bridgton, Maine (November 2014)

 

As adventure became a reality, my life-choices multiplied

 

Back in college I remember acknowledging that I only had a handful of paths to follow after graduating: applying for grad school, or finding a job, or even moving to a different country and trying to make a living. Anything slightly adventurous that deviated from those conventional paths belonged to literature or movies, because people didn't actually do that. But then I hit the road and suddenly all these inimaginable possibilities became real: hitchhiking, playing music with total strangers, sleeping under the stars of an unknown place. I met so many different people with so many different lifestyles - from rambling artists to organized activists to wealthy filmmakers to digital nomads - that now life seems to hold millions of possibilities. Taking risks doesn't seem so risky anymore, and excitement has meaningfully taken over fear. Now I don't know if I'll apply for a master's degree or backpack Iceland for a month. We'll see.


I never thought I'd bike along the Mississippi River in New Orleans and there I was! (January 2015)
I never thought I'd bike along the Mississippi River in New Orleans and there I was! (January 2015)

 

I can see through you better and faster

 

Having to decide in a matter of seconds whether I would stay at a house or not, or whether to jump in a car or not, has improved my ability to sense danger - and non-danger, by that means. Now my distrust tickling sense beeps sooner, but I can also trust much more easily. This doesn't mean it doesn't take me time to get to know a person (obviously), but now I can probably say "yes" or "no" immediately from my gut, which is an ability I didn't use to have. Creating bonds has also become something naturally immediate, considering that I only got to spend an average time of 3-5 days with every person that hosted me.

 


I finally learned to say goodbye

 

There were times during my adventure when I felt the urge to stay in a place, to keep watering the bonds I had started building with the people I'd met. But then I would travel to the next destination and become glad I didn't, because a new experience awaited me there. Goodbyes have always been my Achilles' heel and travelling solo gave me the ability to accept that everything ends, or, better said, that leaving doesn't mean finishing a story, but transforming it into a new one. I still keep in touch with almost every friend I made on the road and I know I will see many of them again, somewhere, sometime. My feet feel lighter now and I learned the delightful perks of missing the ones I love, because they became my reason to come back home and to be happy as the journey came to an end. Choosing to miss those near me taught me to appreciate their company when I finally saw them again.

 

Creating bonds is one of the most beautiful and fun parts of travelling. Washington, DC (November 2014)
Creating bonds is one of the most beautiful and fun parts of travelling. Washington, DC (November 2014)

 

So here I am, one year later. Life is still confusing and difficult sometimes, but every day I'm thankful for everything that surrounds me. Now that I know that at any point I might pack my bag and leave again, I cherish what I have more than ever before, because I'm not certain that it will be there in the near future. This may not be an activist post as others here, but I had an inner need to write it. After all, it was that journey what made me create this blog and what brought you to read these lines right now.

And despite not being a big fan of quoting in texts, there is no better advice to end this post than Kerouac's words:

 

"Live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry".

 

Write a comment

Comments: 27
  • #1

    Maggie (Wednesday, 14 October 2015 23:50)

    I love this entry and I think it's a vital part of your blog, providing background on why and how you decided to write about travelling and sharing your experiences.
    It's really discouraging to see so many young people get disillusioned with adulthood once reality punches them in the face. Suddenly we realize that getting a job is way harder than we'd expected and it's quite often very different from what we'd imagined it to be. So, unfortunately, a lot of people end up walking the beaten path, doing the minimum and slowly letting their dreams and ambitions drown in the mundane. We're also encouraged from a young age to choose a career, get a degree, find a job (seriously, how? the market is over-saturated right now!), start a family, etc.. As if there's a step-by-step guideline to living your life and by the time you're about 25, you should have everything figured out and set up nicely.
    I try my best to avoid following that route and I question myself with every step. You had the balls to dive into this adventure, risking so much, on your own but with an open mind. And you emerged a different person, optimistic and inspired, which gives me hope that more people will take risks and try new things instead of sticking to the safe options.
    It's such a cliche to say that travelling transforms you and makes you appreciate life more. But I believe everyone should do it at some point, either a huge backpacking trip around the US or a couple of weeks in Europe, something to show them how diverse life can be. Even if they end up working a desk job afterwards instead of starting an alpaca farm, they'll do it with a clear conscience and a healthier perspective.

  • #2

    Revolution on the Road (Thursday, 15 October 2015 00:04)

    Maggie! It gave me the chills to read your comment and I agree with you in everything.

    To be honest, I was kind of afraid of publishing this post precisely because it's a very personal one, more emotional than the other ones. But as you said, it is a vital part of the Revolution on the Road, its root, really. I never looked at travelling as a "way of life" until last year, and I definitely didn't think it could change mine so profoundly.

    I'm so glad I get to share this with people like you. Thank you again :)

  • #3

    Gary St (Thursday, 15 October 2015 05:55)

    Beautiful. Just beautiful, Elisa. It was a joy to read this.

  • #4

    Revolution on the Road (Thursday, 15 October 2015 07:45)

    Thank you so much, Gary, it is wonderful to read such a reaction to it :)

  • #5

    Amber (Thursday, 15 October 2015 22:07)

    Hello dear friend
    I was so excited to read your blog. I had so many questions about your travels I never got the chance to ask you when you returned. Reading this entry reminds we of all the wonderful, inspiring conversation you and I use to have together when we got the chance to talk in person.
    After reading your entry I thought how true the words you wrote were. I felt so emotional realizing how much you as a person have grown. You were always so wonderful, but you seem so free now. What an inspirational look on life you have. I loved your point on how it has become easier to make bonds with people faster, because you had to appreciate the short time you had with them. I think in a world where everyone feels so alone it is important to learn that we're not alone at all! We've all buried ourselves in our own lives that we've forgotten to look at the lives around us. When you travel and stay with strangers you are forced to look at life through someone else's eyes, and we realize there is company all around us. We have forgotten how to make bonds because we're so focused on media and rely on devices for company. I've been guilty of this at times. I've learned that I love people and learning about someone else. And as a result I've learned a lot about other people's lives that have sparked new passions in my own. I hope to have the experience that you've had one day soon. Perhaps I'll travel Europe and visit you and we can finally catch up on life!
    I hope you are doing well and things only keep getting better for you. Echo de menos mi amiga! I hope to see you soon.
    Love Amber

  • #6

    Ieva (Wednesday, 28 October 2015 13:21)

    Hi!
    I loved your story truly and completely. I'd love to share your adventure in my Story section - it's interview-a-like section where I get to know variety of travelers, creatives and bloggers. You can take a look here: www.therandomp.com/stories

    & Please contact me, if you decide to participate! :)

    Kind regards,
    ieva.

  • #7

    Marsy (Wednesday, 28 October 2015 13:33)

    Come to Iceland ;)

  • #8

    Kabir (Wednesday, 28 October 2015 21:41)

    bravo bravo bravo ! so inspiring, true and subtil analysis ! thanks

  • #9

    Sameer (Thursday, 29 October 2015 01:02)

    This is sounds amazing... I wish I can do the same, but I can't.
    The problem with you travelers is that you are indifferent to other peoples lives and restrictions. You try to encourage and inspire people to travel and explore and follow your footsteps. And I know that this is a life changing experience and actually essential. But that only if you are a privileged European or American with a strong passport that lets you do all of these stuff, but not for people which their passports are so weak that they can't go anywhere without applying for visas and lots of paper work and restrictions and requirements that aren't easily met.
    Reading these kind of blogs, watching road and traveling movies, reading books about it, is instead of inspiring becomes so tiresome, it feels like a knife stab in the heart knowing that you can't just because some politician decided it. I live in Palestine and I can't tell you how everyday I struggle to take away the idea of suicide out of my mind to continue my day as normal as possible, but then I meet with my friends and they are talking about how boring their lives are because they can't travel and explore and make adventures the idea comes back until next day to start the same struggle again. So I don't know if these kind of "inspirational" stories are good actually, they are rather really bad and harmful, until we live in a just world and have equality for all of it's citizens we must stop these inspirations.
    Thank you

  • #10

    Mike Robertson (Thursday, 29 October 2015 05:48)

    What a great read and I can very much relate to a lot of it having sold up everything I had back in Scotland and embarking upon a life on the road only about 8 months ago. De cluttering before I left was quite liberating, so much stuff in my cupboards was kept because they may be useful one day, they weren't, we just like to keep things. I had planned to do a one year post as well but don't worry, I shan't steal your post :-D Keep it up though, the freedom of the road is so much better.

  • #11

    Revolution on the Road (Thursday, 29 October 2015 07:09)

    Hello everyone and thank you for all the comments :) I'd like to reply to you personally.

    First of all, Sameer - I read your story as soon as I woke up and it really impacted me. While in the Nomads Gathering last summer, we talked about the privilege of travelling and those who, far from having it, sometimes are forced to travel to save their lives. It's a very dramatic situation that should not be ignored, especially by us travellers and especially now. I recently conducted a workshop on travelling where the question of "what if I can't travel?" was broadly discussed and if you contact me we can talk about it if you want. You are living in a particularly difficult place and I'd love to help you in any possible way that I can - even if it's just talking about it. I would also like to hear more about what you have to say and maybe write about it so that more people know. I think the problem here are not inspirational stories, but the lack of stories that point out that the inspirational ones are a consequence of privilege. "If you don't have to think about it, it's a privilege", right?

    Ieva - I emailed you with an absolute yes :) I'd love to participate in your story section, thank you for thinking about me!

    Amber - Thank you for your beautiful words, it's so good to hear this from someone I haven't seen in so long and miss so greatly. I hope I can see you soon again.

    Marsy - I'd love to!!

    Kabir and Mike - Thank you guys, this really helps me going on. Mike, I hope your trip is going wonderfully. If you come by Madrid, email me!

  • #12

    Angel (Friday, 30 October 2015 02:24)

    Me alegra saber que hay compatriotas que hacen estas cosas. Llevo fuera de España 5 años y un año de viajes por toda Norte América, Caribe, Asia y Europa. No me he topado con ningún hispano que este viajando por curiosear y descubrir, si no que lo hacen por trabajo. Asi que me gusta oír esto, ademas que comparto mucho lo escrito en tu texto.
    Un abrazo!

  • #13

    Revolution on the Road (Wednesday, 04 November 2015 12:37)

    Muchas gracias, Ángel, me alegra mucho leer eso y saber que estás viajando tantísimo y tan bien :)

    ¡Un abrazo!

  • #14

    Revolution on the Road (Thursday, 05 November 2015 00:07)

    Hey, Sameer! If you (or anyone in the same situation) ever come back to this site and read this, this article may interest you. It's called "How to travel the world with a third world passport" and it has some tips that might be useful to you: http://iamaileen.com/how-to-travel-the-world-third-world-passport/

  • #15

    Louis (Saturday, 18 June 2016 07:48)

    I really like this line from your journal: "I'm full of thankfulness, vital lessons, new ideas, color." I know the feeling and you really put it into words here. Keep up the nice writing.

  • #16

    Revolution on the Road (Saturday, 18 June 2016 15:06)

    Thank you, Louis! I've been checking out your website and Facebook/Instagram pages and I like your style, I will be following your adventures :)

  • #17

    Julen (Tuesday, 18 October 2016 13:44)

    Me ha encantado, simplemente. Preciosa historia, contada con muy bonitas palabras. Una cosa que aprendí hace mucho, es que, cuanto más viajamos, más nos damos cuenta de que menos cosas necesitamos.

  • #18

    Revolution on the Road (Tuesday, 18 October 2016 21:23)

    Muchísimas gracias, Julen. Y sí, estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo :) Un abrazo.

  • #19

    Truth (Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:55)

    Hi,

    I am happy that you made this experience. Because there is still a big majority in the world that hast 5dollar or less a day to spend.

    We are privileged! Even in your 12 meter square room with 4 jobs. As long as we can waste money on Party, Travel and others luxuries we are privileged.

    Everyone of us should at least once have the experience to live like the poorest to understand that we life in a bubble of "everything anytime" and that others suffer for that.

  • #20

    Mika (Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:57)

    Nice x)!..... I would like write more but I think that one Word is enought x) thanks for shareing ! :)

  • #21

    Revolution on the Road (Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:03)

    Trutu: I absolutely agree, that's why I travel the way I do. Last summer I spent some time helping out in a refugees squat in Athens and it was incredibly shocking and I learned many important lessons. I wrote an article on it: http://www.no-yolo.com/ah-poor-refugees/

    Mika: Thank you :) :)

  • #22

    Rita Stewart (Wednesday, 19 October 2016 13:29)

    Thank you for intimately sharing, I can so relate. I long to go, I will... I too will learn how to say goodbye...

  • #23

    Prunella (Friday, 21 October 2016 08:27)

    Spot on. Great post. So happy for you.
    A fellow traveller and blogger.
    Pru

  • #24

    Revolution on the Road (Sunday, 23 October 2016 20:35)

    Thank you both, Pru and Rita :)

    I'm checking out both your sites and I really appreciate your comments on this article. Safe and fulfilling travels!

  • #25

    Alina (Thursday, 27 July 2017 17:46)

    I thought about travelling the world for some time now. For a few months, years or forever, my ideas weren’t that precise. But, yes, there’s a but, every single time I talked to people around me about that, their reactions were quite negative, discouraging and very pragmatic : “it’s expensive; you’re a girl, aren’t you afraid?; girls don’t travel alone!; it will be difficult to find a job when you come back; travelling the world is a nice idea, but it remains an idea; how are you going to survive, etc….” For a long long time I told to myself that they were right, that it is difficult to find a job so I’d better keep the one I found, that yes it’s difficult to travel alone, that yes it is expensive, that yes, it is idealist. And I told myself that for years, while I was unhappy with my different jobs, the city I lived in and a conventional way of life that is not right for me. But courage is taking over fear (I hope and I encourage myself every day). I know people are afraid for me, but I also know that I am right. Because guess what, it’s my life. And, as you said, after following rules and people that make you unhappy, you have to follow your guts. I hope I’ll do it soon. For now I don’t have that much self-confidence but I work on it every day. Thank you for your inspiring entry. And thank you for telling me, in an indirect way of cours, that I’m not that crazy :) Keep on rocking!

  • #26

    Elisa (Revolution on the Road) (Friday, 28 July 2017 10:16)

    Alina, I was very happy to read your comment. Every thing you said, I was told as well (especially the job part!! That was one of the hardest to answer!). And yes, I got a job when I got back. And I got one that I liked better because I knew myself better, I knew what I wanted. So I encourage you to keep on that path, follow your guts and do it. If the idea is already in your mind, I have no doubt that you're going to do it, so hold on to it and the time will come when you'll find yourself thinking what to pack in your bag. I send you all my good wishes!!

  • #27

    Abid (Monday, 30 October 2017 06:27)

    M from India , and i also wanna travel this whole world all i need is just someone to hold my back if i get loose like idk wat i have to do and wat i'll do. idk how to survive i just need a partner to with i can travel .