Blog

Why You Should Stop Not Traveling

This article may seem superfluous at first. You’re mentally admonishing me as such: “Seriously, Colin, I know I should be traveling more and I enjoy traveling and I will when I get the chance so lay off, sucker.”

I get it, I do. You want to be worldly and have a wonderful time, James Bond style, exploring exotic locals (and even more exotic women/men), enjoying the best the world has to offer, seeing the underbelly of the underbelly of a city that doesn’t even really have an overbelly.

I understand because I’ve been there. I have. In fact, I’m STILL there. I’m making plans, sure, but at this moment my dreams of travel are still just dreams, right up there with the ones where all my teeth fall out, flying down the stairs and trampolining with President Taft while wearing knickerbockers (what, you haven’t had that one?).

“But Colin,” you whine, “I took that trip to Aruba during Spring Break. Remember? I totally got hammered with some locals.”

An excellent start, for sure, but let’s be honest here: you stayed at a tourist trap hotel with a bunch of other people your age, from your country, and learned nothing new except what drinking games the locals play and what the natives think Americans like (wet t-shirt contests and keg stands…to be fair, that’s actually pretty accurate).

You need to get out there and experience something new, my friend! Stop thinking about it and do it! Take some time to prepare and do it right…you don’t want to be worrying about the fact that you have nothing to come back to or are completely broke the entire time…but seriously, now is the time to travel! While you’re young! Even after the safety net of school is carted off when you graduate, being young and malleable will still provide a respectable amount of leeway, so even if you make mistakes/lose all your money to gypsies/accidentally get married to the King’s daughter, you’ll be able to bounce back. Not only that, but when you return to ‘real life,’ you’ll have some excellent stories to tell, and later on down the line, your kids won’t think you’re a loser (okay, they still probably will, but you’ll at least have the photos to prove you weren’t ALWAYS a loser).

So stop not traveling. I’ve made a resolution (and given myself firm deadlines) to finally end my destructive cycle of not doing the things I want to do with my life, and you should too.

What have you always dreamed of doing, but haven’t because life got in the way? Share below!

Update: April 22, 2016

Hmm, I don’t like the tone of this one.

I agree with the underlying sentiment (if not the unnecessary and trying-to-be-funny floridness) that the sooner you get out there and travel, the better, and that it’s typically preferable to see how real people live than to seek out the local wing of a familiar restaurant chain.

But man, the tone. Admonishing people for not doing something I hadn’t yet done? Criticizing people for having different priorities than me? Yeah, traveling the way I mentioned above is preferable for what I want to get out of the experience, but my priorities aren’t everyone’s priorities.

I’ve become a hell of a lot more relativistic since writing this post, I think.

Blog, Project

About the Project

I started the Exile Lifestyle project to bring some semblance of order to a series of changes that I am instituting in my life. The most extreme of these changes is that I will be leaving the United States (I currently live in Los Angeles) and running my business from the road, moving to a new country every 4 months (each new destination will be determined by your vote on this very site!). I will also be undergoing some rigorous lifestyle experiments (including but not limited to selling everything I own except what can fit into a carry-on bag) and starting up a series of new businesses. Whew, I’m excited already!

Here’s the rundown of what my focuses will be for this site:

Goals

Minimalism
From April 2009 until September 2009, I will slowly be selling off, giving away and otherwise eliminating every possession from my life until I have nothing except what is necessary to run my businesses (which is not much more than a reliable phone and computer) and complete the other Exile Lifestyle goals. I’ve got a carry-on bag and anything that doesn’t fit inside will have to be gotten rid of.

The idea is to simplify simplify simplify so that I am more able to enjoy the people and events around me and focus on the things that are really important.

Mobility
A major component of the Exile Lifestyle project is leaving the United States to travel the world, living a few months in a given place before moving on to another country, culture, climate and – ack – language. Why this goal is absolutely hilarious will become more clear once you find out more about me (including the fact that I’ve never left the country and have always gotten terrible grades in Spanish class).

The purpose of this goal is to get a worldly education to compliment the knowledge that I already possess. I intend to see the world while I’m young, learn as much as I can and knock myself off the traditional entrepreneurial (read: make lots of money but work 24/7) path that I’ve been following for quite some time.

Sustainability
Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to purchase nothing but clothing made out of leaves, raw produce grown locally, and cloud computers that are actually clouds (“look! that cumulonimbus looks like the Linux penguin!”). I have high standards when it comes to quality and design, and I will be working hard to buy products that are extremely practical, durable, beautiful, and eco-friendly.

A big part of my studio business is to bring green materials and processes to otherwise non-green industries and companies; I think bringing that same mentality to this project and my lifestyle will increase the challenge and also show other travelers/minimalists/tycoons that it can be done (with style and dapperness).

Stages

Preparation
The preparation stage is actually a handful of mini-chapters, all leading up to my leaving the USA. During this time, I will be streamlining and optimizing my businesses, automating them as much as possible and if necessary coming up with entirely new businesses to help passively fund my venture. I will also be slowly selling off everything that I won’t be taking with me overseas (which means there will be some sobbing during this stage) and purchasing any additional equipment I don’t already possess.

I will still be running my current businesses during this stage, and as a grand finale my girlfriend and I will be hosting a break-up party (to the shock/awe of our friends and family). She will be moving up to the neo-bohemian, java-sipping city of Seattle (to re-establish her acting career in a new city and start up her own design practice) while I move down to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the first leg of my adventure.

Exile
This stage will be all about new experiences, adaptability and learning. I will be spending 4 months in a foreign city, one after another, doing my best to learn the local language, customs, culture, design scene, sustainability-level and anything else I can fit in. I will also be taking as many classes as I can fit into a day, mostly relating to local customs (seriously considering taking up tango while I’m in Buenos Aires). I’ll still be running my businesses and designing things while I’m traveling (because I like it; so there).

The added bonus of traveling the world will be the opportunity to meet up with the movers and shakers in a wide variety of fields, from design to technology to social media to education (all things that I am interested in and are related to projects I’m currently working on). I will also be seeking speaking opportunities during this time so if you or your group are interested in hearing me speak about my experiences, drop me a message.

The end of this stage is fluid – and in fact may never happen if I enjoy myself enough. I really have no end date for the Exile Lifestyle project in mind, which is simultaneously ridiculously cool and ridiculously foolhardy on my part. Either way, at some point I will be writing a book about my experiences and hopefully it will read more like an edgy graphic novel than a tragedy.

FAQ

What is an Exile Lifestyle?
The term ‘Exile Lifestyle‘ encapsulates the a philosophy that I’ve developed and will be abiding by for the duration of this project. Tenets of this philosophy include:

  • Frequent travel: I will be touring the world, though not as a tourist. Every 4 months (or so) I will be pulling up my roots and moving on to a new city in a new country. The goal is to get a better understanding of the people, language, culture, lifestyles, etc of each location before moving on. Over time I’m hoping to develop my ability to quickly assimilate into an area, learning the language and building up personal and business relationships with greater ease. Where I travel will be determined by people viewing this website via poll. The first poll has already been conducted, and the first country I will be living in will be Argentina!
  • Mobility: While traveling, I will be constantly working to refine my travel skills, with the end goal of having only the necessities (but the best of what I DO have) and being able to pick up and move to another country at a moment’s notice. I also want to be able to run my businesses and establish new ones from the road and basically to become a very capable and culturally conscious traveler. A big part of this will be figuring out how to conduct business virtually, how to automate my finances and how to do business on an international level.
  • Self-Improvement: I’m a big believer in improving myself in any way possible, so a big part of this project is constant self-optimization and improvement. At each location I will be taking language courses while at the same time working to improve myself in many other ways. I may take up a local sport, try my hand at a native art form, or maybe even settle in and learn to meditate and get a better sense of myself. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be documenting my progress and giving tips on how others can do the same even faster and more effectively.
  • Sustainability: My main business is a sustainable design and development studio called Colin Is My Name. Considering the ethics I use to run my business, I think it would be fairly hypocritical of me to take on a project of this magnitude without considering the sustainability-level of each step. To this end, I will be opting for the most sustainable option available in my gear, travel plans, living situation, etc. I will be taking a very practical stance on this, making use of the sustainable options that are available, inquiring after others that are not (hoping to change things!) and cobbling together new solutions when possible, though in some cases I predict, I’ll simply have to choose the lesser of the evils (though I will make note of my efforts so that others can start to move in a more eco-friendly direction, as well).
  • Experience: A big part of why I started this project is so that I can experience new things and encourage others to do the same. I think it’s vitally important that people all over the world expand their horizons, see and experience new things, and mingle with other cultures in an unfamiliar environment. I will be doing my best to document my travels with photography, video and writings on the different things I see and do, while also writing articles about the other components of this project and lessons that I’ve learned. There will be quite a few ‘travel writing-style’ pieces to go along with the ‘how-to’ articles once I get on the road, so if you’re a Travel Channel or Matador Network fan, you’ve come to the right place.

Who are you?
I’m Colin! Find out more about me here.

Who is paying for all this? Are you being sponsored?
At the moment, I am paying for all of this. Part of my personal challenge is to streamline my businesses so that I am able to maintain and grow them while traveling the world. That being said, this project is one of my businesses, so I would have no qualms accepting sponsorship from companies I respect and that share my priorities. You might also see ads sprinkled throughout the site periodically, though at the moment I’m leaning toward an ad-free approach. If you do spot an ad on my site click them if you like, but otherwise feel free to ignore the little bugger. This site is one big no-sales-pressure zone, so I don’t want you to ever feel like I won’t love you if you don’t click something I put up.

So how will you make money while traveling?
As I said above, I will continue to run my studio while on the road, and I will also be developing other income streams as I travel. One idea that I’m currently working on is creating premium eBooks and courses to compliment the free content (like my eBook on Personal Branding) that I’m providing to my readers. I’ll be posting information as these products are completed, so stay tuned.

Will you come visit me at (name of country here)?
I would love to! In fact, I’ll be keeping a list of people to visit when I find myself in a certain part of the world, so shoot me a message and I’ll make sure to contact you when I’ll be heading your direction.

Who took those fabulous photos that adorn the site?
That would be miss Cris Dobbins, who is a fantastic photographer and a hell of a person. Check out more of her work here and hire her. Okay? Okay.

Will you speak at my school/organization/business/church/campground?
Sure! I’m looking to have a few speaking engagements set up in each country I live in (and even if I’m not near you I’m going to take every opportunity to travel) so drop me a message and we can discuss the details.

What kind of backpack/water bottle/mobile phone/laptop/etc do you recommend for travel?
You can see all of my favorite products (most of them travel related and the best available because of my ‘only the best’ policy for owning anything these upcoming months) at my Amazon shop (which will be online very soon). I’ll create a post about my store when I’ve got it up and running.

What does your family/girlfriend/friends think about all this?
My family and friends have unanimously been very supportive, and my girlfriend even more so, especially considering the odd circumstances (we actually have a ‘Breakup Party’ planned for the end of August right before she leaves for Seattle and I leave the country…hardcore, right?).

How will you be deciding where to go?
My readers will be voting on each destination (about a month before I leave). For obvious reasons I will be screening the results to a certain degree (I will not be going to Iraq or North Korea in the near-future, despite how interesting those locales might be!), but I’m a big proponent of the wisdom of the wiki, so in general whatever rises to the top of the poll is where I’ll be going.

Is this a really long FAQ, perhaps unnecessarily so?
Yes. Yes it is.

How can I connect with you on the Interwebs?
Oh, there are a wide variety of ways! Take a look at the Social Networks page, click on your favorite network, and friend me. Easy breezy.

You didn’t answer my question here…what will I do?!
Relax! You can leave my a question as a comment below and I’ll get back to you lickety-split, or you can contact me at the aptly-named Contact page.

Update: April 22, 2016

Okay, I’m pretty sure this is the first post I wrote on the blog after renaming it.

Little known fact about this blog: it started out with the monicker Third Education. The idea was that I had gone to school, and I’d done my time in the business world, and now it was time to go out and learn all the stuff that I was so completely ignorant about — pretty much the whole world outside of school and business.

I renamed it Exile Lifestyle because it seemed a little more clear that travel was involved, and because it rhymed. I was kind of hoarding domains at this point in my life, though, so I went through dozens of different concepts before settling on the two that I eventually used. Thankfully, no one was really reading it at that point, so probably three people noticed the change.

It’s also pretty clear that at this point in my blogging career I was still trying to figure out how all this would fit together. Maybe I’d have ads? Maybe I’d make a living from an Amazon store? Maybe I’d write ‘premium eBooks’ — which, I should note, is the parlance of someone who’s writing a book for business, rather than because they want to take a stab at writing a book they actually care about. Shows something about where my head was at during this time period. Lots of business-speak.

It’s interesting looking back at these early posts, too, because it’s difficult to remember what it was like before I knew how to travel; before it had become my normal. I imagined that I’d be going to these places and largely learning by taking courses, when in reality most of what I learn is just from going to the grocery store and talking to people. I imagined I’d be spending my time building, I don’t know, import/export businesses of some kind, when in reality it made more sense to focus on things that weren’t location-dependent at all.

I also imagined I’d be doing travel writing of the ‘eat at this restaurant’ and ‘go to this hotel’ variety, which is something I tried my hand at for a few publications, for a few years, but never really enjoyed.

Blog

On Failing Gracefully

I remember my first day of Ultimate Frisbee practice. There was a lot a catch to be played, running to be done, stretches to be learned, and ideals to be ingrained. One such ideal I still maintain today, because I’ve found it to be incredibly useful in nearly every situation I’ve thought to use it in.

The ideal is this: in Ultimate Frisbee, you always chase the disc. It doesn’t matter if that thing is 30 feet in the air and cruising way too fast for you to catch and already out of bounds; because of the floaty, finicky properties of a frisbee, there is still a chance that the disc will catch a burst of wind and fly back at you, slow down enough for you to get under it, or maybe you’ll be fast enough to catch it regardless. Whatever the case, you don’t stop just because defeat seems inevitable, and since I started applying that same guideline to all aspects of my life, I’ve learned a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise, achieved many victories that I would have walked away from, and had a lot of fun that I would have missed out on.

Consider that, with every failure, you grow as a person, and much faster than you would with a success. Winning is easy, compared to losing and learning. It takes humility and grace to be able to look at the broken remnants of your plans on the ground and think “Wow…I sure learned a lot here today. Niiiice!”

Let me share with you a particularly mortifying moment in my personal history.

In college, I started and operated a culture magazine called Stim. I planned the whole thing out with a friend and colleague who I had worked on another magazine with, but after all the planning on ad selling and blood and sweat and tears, she had to pull out before the first issue hit the presses (she worked for a local newspaper, and they threatened to fire her if she took part). Setback and a half! I worked extra hard to get that first issue out, the first ads sold, and to set up and run the celebratory first issue event, Stim One.

Long story short the Stim One event was a huge success. Hundreds of people showed up, the bands all had a good time (it was a combination concert and fashion show), and we were even able to pay the bands more than we initially thought.

I was on cloud nine. I’m thinking, this is easy. What’s all the fuss about?

Enter Stim Two. The second event for Stim was to be a Rock the Vote event, and even grander than the first. We got permission to set up in the center of downtown. We got the licenses, the paperwork filled out, the right hands greased and the right bands signed up. The school was behind us, and several clubs contributed their time and money and prestige to the project. It was going to be big.

Then on the big day: rain. Lots and lots of rain. Buckets of it falling from the sky. I was mortified.

I rushed into damage control. Months of work had to be undone and redone, and before the voting sign up deadline. I had one week to rebook and redo everything.

I was able to secure a new location; an art gallery all of two blocks from the downtown square that was the original concert location. After a whole lot of negotiations and reallocation of my supporters’ money, the event finally took place. The bands arrived and set up their gear. The doors were opened to the public and the openers tore into their instruments. It was a hell of a show.

And in total, about 8 people were their to enjoy it.

It would be safe to say that I didn’t want to show my face after the Stim Two event. SO many people had put their trust in me, assuming that their money and time would be going to something exciting and productive, and I delivered something pitiful. I wanted to die.

A few days later, I took stock. Sure, I was crazy embarrassed and humbled in all the wrong ways, but I had also learned a LOT about what not to do, how to handle a situation when everything goes wrong, and really how to cope with failure. Great. Big. Failure.

And that’s the real point of all this: most people are so terrified of failure that they don’t even try. If they see a frisbee flying out of bounds, they don’t even think about chasing it. That’s a guaranteed loss! Why even put yourself in that situation?

I’ll tell you why. Because you gain very little from a win, but everything from a loss.

If you are someone who avoids being in losing situations at all costs, or even someone who just ALWAYS wins, try this: go play a game with someone and lose. It can be a board game or basketball or pool (which, in my experience, is very, very easy to lose at). Whatever you like. Just get the experience. I know it sounds very Fight Club, but it really helps to intentionally face that fear and realize that this thing that we are so innately afraid of, this worst-case scenario, is really nothing serious. It’s piddly. A pansy.

Become a graceful and productive loser now and you won’t have any trouble winning when it matters.

Update: April 22, 2016

Yes. This concept from Ultimate Frisbee is something I still think about and remind myself of frequently, and the failure with Stim is a fun story to trot out because it was an incredibly mortifying moment that essentially helped me become the person I needed to be in order to build my post-school career.

It’s also the moment I think about when I experience failure today. I’ve had objectively worse moments since then — bigger failures — but the first big failure stings most memorably, and recalling the moment I decided to get back up and keep going is still the reminder I need at times that I can do the same again.