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The Art and How-Tos of Full-Time Travel (Toby Israel)

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Toby Israel Humans Outside Podcast

Toby Israel calls herself a “vagabondess.” Her book of the same title, part personal exploration, part practical guide for female travelers, gives readers are a window into what it’s like to wander the world happy and free.

In this episode of Humans Outside Toby gives us a window into that experience, and offers some practical tips for making full time travel happen for yourself that any one — man or woman — can use. Someday we will operate in a post-pandemic world. For now, prepare for that reality by hearing Toby’s great advice.

Some of the good stuff:

[1:15] Toby Israel’s favorite outdoor space

[4:33] About Toby’s book

[6:40] Why a female-specific travel focus matters

[11:33] How spending time outside has changed her travel experience

[17:14] Using travel to connect with intuition

[25:00] The practicalities of a travel-focused lifestyle

[31:00] How to be a vagabond

[35:40] How to afford a travel lifestyle

[42:45] How to know when it’s time to stop and stay put

[44:19] Toby’s favorite outdoor gear

[45:09] Toby’s most essential outdoor gear

[46:02] Toby’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Vagabondess: A Guide to Solo Female Travel

Toby Israel’s website

Favorite gear: Osprey backpack (65 litre)

Most essential gear: headlamp (we like this one); portable UV filter

Register for our newsletter to win a decal: https://humansoutside.com/contact-us/

Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:01

What would your life be like if you weren’t tied down to a nine to five job, didn’t own or rent a home, shed your self-inflicted responsibilities and possessions and instead chose the adventure life? That’s the life Toby Israel has shaped for herself as an empowerment yoga and self defense facilitator, and writer and editor. She’s currently out of Costa Rica but has spent the last several years wandering around the world as a solo female traveler. That’s an experience she talks about in her new book, Vagabondess. Toby, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.

Toby Israel 1:04

Thank you, Amy.

AB 1:06

So we start all these shows talking to our guests and asking them to invite us into their favorite outdoor space. Where are we with you today?

TI 1:15

Well, I have two answers to that, because right now we’re in San Jose, Costa Rica, which is quite urban. And so my outdoor space is sort of in the imagination, and I’m looking out the window of my apartment to the really beautiful mountains just out of reach outside of San Jose. And when I’m here in my home base in the city, that is my outdoor space. It’s not quite within reach, but it makes me feel like I’m not trapped in the city, that I can see those mountains. And then recently, I visited some friends at a farm they own near the Pacific coast in Costa Rica. They have one of the most magical rivers I’ve seen running just past their property. And it’s just one little pool and waterfall after another to the point that I just spent hours trying to sit in every single one of the pools because they all looked so perfect and delicious.

AB 2:23

I love that description as delicious. So I you know, I think that that’s totally a thing.

TI 2:31

Especially with water for me. Yeah.

AB 2:34

Yeah, absolutely. So okay, start by telling us why you decided to travel full time, just wandering around the globe, immersing yourself in the world and give us some basics. Okay, like where you’re from and when you started and just walk us into your why.

TI 2:47

Sure. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and I had the incredible good fortune to be raised by a family of travelers. So I got the travel bug, really young. I had family vacations that brought me to Italy to England to India to China, before I was out of high school and just had this curiosity about the world, partly from that, from traveling with my family and partly from reading, just constantly works of fiction and historical fiction, nonfiction, that opened up all of these other worlds to me. So, by the time I finished high school, I felt very clear about the fact that I wanted to travel more and won a scholarship to live and study in Paris for a year out of high school. I spent a good chunk of that year not studying and traveling around Europe, came back to the US to get my degree in anthropology from Middlebury College in Vermont, traveled more, took time off to travel more, and by the time I graduated, I was ready to just be a full time nomad, and I designed my entire work and lifestyle to support that dream. And so I started working as an editor, as a writer, as a marketing consultant and lived in East Africa, in South Africa, in Italy and Morocco, and a few other places before ending up in Costa Rica, where I’ve been for almost three years.

AB 4:23

Your book is meant as a practical guide for women who want to solo travel. So how did you come up with the term vagabondess and why is it important?

TI 4:33

It’s a practical guide. It’s also an existential guide. I want to clarify that because there are a lot of practical guides out there and I wanted to sort of go beyond that. So it’s not just where to go and how to pack it. It goes a lot farther than that.

AB 4:49

Would you consider it an essential guide? To be practical?

TI 4:59

Yes, definitely. So I started in 2013, I just came up with a slogan and I slapped it on my website on my blog and I started literally writing it on walls and Sharpies and paintings when I was doing murals a few places, and the slogan or phrase that stuck with me was be happy, be free, vagabond. And that since using vagabond as a verb, and so the idea of vagabonding or being a vagabond, has been just this running theme through my travels for a really long time. And then the name for the book popped into my head just over two years ago as I was landing in Guatemala. And I had not really thought of the word vagabondess before that, but I also knew that if for when I wrote my book, I would want it to be gendered because my experience as a traveler has been gendered, you know, it’s the experience of being a woman traveling alone. And so once that I had that word in my head, I was completely completely stuck on it. And lots of other things changed about the concept for the book, but the title did not.

AB 6:18

Talk to me about that for a minute. Why it is important to focus on being a woman traveling alone? Why that is a unique experience? I think that some of the obvious things come up to our minds immediately, but maybe talk about those and maybe something deeper or different that we aren’t thinking about, you know, you’ve done this a lot.

TI 6:40

I think the most obvious answer is that there are obvious safety concerns about being a woman traveling alone that most men I know who travel alone generally don’t think about. And that’s really encapsulated by the fact that the question I get asked most often as a solo traveler is — well, aren’t you afraid? Or how do you stay safe? Aren’t you afraid to travel alone? And I don’t know many male solo travelers who get asked that question quite so often. But every female solo traveler I know does. So the experience is sort of colored by that myth or that assumption that it’s incredibly dangerous to be a woman traveling alone. And so then I feel like anytime I’m talking or writing about my experience, I have to dive into that question. It’s the elephant in the room.

And then on sort of a more subtle level, which maybe isn’t so obvious. I think there’s a quality to the way that I travel to the way that I engage with the world that is for like, for lack of a better term, feminine, or gendered. It’s a way of listening, a way of curiosity and a kind of communication with our surroundings that sort of adheres to those stereotypical qualities that we deem as feminine or female.

AB 8:14

How many countries have you visited?

TI 8:17

Around 50?

AB 8:20

And I’m not gonna ask your favorite because I get the sense from your book that that’s impossible, one and two, that there’s levels to being a favorite, right? There are reasons to appreciate all sorts of things in the world. You know, it’s like saying, you have a favorite movie without talking about a favorite genre. Right? Ah, but talk to me about a few places that stand out in your mind and why?

TI 8:46

Sure.

Let’s start with where I am now. Costa Rica. I’ve been here nearly three years and that’s the longest I’ve been anywhere since 2008 and it’s hard to say exactly what grabbed me. I mean, Costa Rica is always at the top of all of the top places to travel list and eco travel list. So it has that going for it. It is an incredibly lush, biodiverse, beautiful country. But I’ve lived a lot of beautiful places and, and in the interior I’m living in San Jose so obviously didn’t just stay for the nature. I really stayed for the community that I found here and this community of people where I felt very much at home and, and loved and, and like I could focus on some other projects other than traveling like writing this book, like I focusing on my work as a facilitator. And this was just a really ideal environment for that. There’s a lot happening. In the yoga space in the retreat space in the sort of conscious or transformative travel space, and that’s all really interesting to me. Another top of my list spot is Cape Town where I lived for almost a year in South Africa. And that for me is a city that has everything because you can be surfing 30 minutes on a train from the city you can be hiking just literally take a bus to the base of Table Mountain, and you have a plethora of amazing hiking trails and you can just hike straight up above the city. Music culture and also complex history, but I love living there as well.

AB 10:48

Here on this podcast, we of course focus on our experiences outside. I think that there’s a lot to be said for creating experiences and a connection with the outdoors in wherever you find yourself, but there’s also something to be said for seeking those out. And so I’m wondering if you can juxtapose your experience and your connection to the outdoors before you started traveling with the experience you’ve had since you know wandering the world, and how that has maybe colored how you see or, you know, enriched your experience in the outdoors now that you’re staying put again, for a little bit.

TI 11:33

Hmm, it’s a good question. Two things come to mind. Growing up, I spent most summer vacations with my family in Vermont. I grew up in Boston and we would go out to Vermont for the summers for a good chunk of my childhood. And the whole family got into hiking together in a way and it as I traveled solo or with friends that continues to be my favorite mode of transport is walking or hiking. Wherever I am, I’m always seeking out the trails, you know, where what can I get to that will take me into the mountains or into the woods. And there’s always a way. And really anywhere, there’s always a way to get to a walking trail. Or if there’s not, you can just walk instead of taking a bus instead of taking a taxi. So and then along with that, I have really clear memories of family vacations, where my father always wanted to get to the highest point, whether it was the top of a clock tower in a city or the top of a mountain. Wherever we were is like this constant trend or this motif in our family vacations, getting to the highest point and getting to view – and I’ve definitely carried that with me into my own travels and dragged quite a few travel companions with me up a lot of stairs or up mountains. And I’m asking myself right now actually what is it about the view because of course, views are beautiful, and they’re good photo opportunities, but it’s not about that, it’s this deeper drive.

AB 13:14

I think it’s about feeling context. Um, you know, so we have a lot of mountains here in Alaska right? We like to go up them and the, you know, the sort of compelling thing I find about that, you know, why am I suffering uphill for this long? I mean, these trails, aren’t they there are no switchbacks, they go straight up. This is not an easy exercise. Okay. There’s a lot of sweating. Sometimes there’s a lot of swearing. There’s a lot of ask yourself in the moment — why am I doing this? Okay? And the answer is found when you get to the top and you see the world around you and you understand your place in it. Does that make sense? That’s that’s my experience.

TI 14:03

Absolutely, it’s context and perspective and especially in a new – it’s often something I like to do when I’ve just arrived some places – get that vantage point. And it’s sort of like a way of getting your bearings in the bigger picture sense.

AB 14:19

Very practical, as we said, practical and existential. But, um, I, you know, I think that we live in a world where it’s very easy to make it all about us and, and I haven’t traveled extensively. So I know in your book, you talk about learning to understand and appreciate other cultures and the fact that it’s not all about us. But you know, especially if you’re, if you’re not traveling, it’s very easy for that to become your experience that, you know, my world revolves around me. And getting out in nature helps me understand that is not true, it’s obviously just one of the ways to understand that. But getting on top of the mountain like that I can see what I feel in that moment to be the whole world. And it gives me this perspective of having conquered something big because I got up there. And that was not that easy, right, having conquered something big, but also at the same time being nonetheless, still very small.

TI 15:34

I love that and I have to admit, travel is a good way of getting out of that. That ego of sort of self centered focus, but it’s also not a permanent solution and sort of this constant process of turning the lens outward.

AB 15:53

And always more mountains to climb. How do you decide where to go next?

TI 16:00

It’s an intuitive process, or sometimes it’s just a matter of convenience. For a good chunk of my travels, I was just going to the next friend with a couch for me.

And coming to Costa Rica, I chose a master’s program in peace studies that was located here in Costa Rica. Traveling to East Africa, I was traveling with my partner at the time, and we were we looked at a sort of Venn diagram of the places we could both go without visas and the list was really short. So sometimes it’s just practical, it’s — Where can I get to and where can I get to cheaply? Where is someone offering me a place to stay? And sometimes it’s just intuition. I went to South Africa without knowing anyone there and just it had come up in conversations a lot. I had South African friends who had told me about Cato and told me I would love it. And I just had this feeling that that was the next place.

AB 17:14

One of the things, speaking of intuition, that you talked about in your book is using nature to connect with your intuition. How did you realize that this connection was being made? Walk us through that sort of process if that’s even possible, and, and then talk to us about that benefit about how you’ve seen nature and intuition connecting?

TI 17:38

Sure. Uh, huh. I think I can speak more to the benefit because if I, I’m not sure I could articulate how just an awareness connection.

AB 17:51

Yeah, maybe it’s just, um, we’ll just walk back for a second. Maybe it’s just a side benefit of doing it right? Like there are some things I think in our lives that we can’t plot out as much as we would like to. I’m a little bit of a control freak. And so I would like to have a plan for all things, right?

TI 18:12

And it’s true. And it’s interesting with intuition, because I am also, as you mentioned in the introduction, I’m an empowerment self defense instructor. And I talk a lot about intuition in my classes, and so people are often asking, Well, how do I get in touch with my intuition? And the same goes for travel when people come to me asking for advice about starting off on a big trip, and they’re asking — how do you know where to go? How do you tap into that voice of intuition that tells you where to go? And I try to break it down a little bit in my book, because I think it’s a really important question. And so many of us in the modern world have a really hard time coming back to our intuition because it’s so we’re sort of divorced from it for so many different reasons. And what I’ve started comes down to a few really basic practices that for me, have helped me connect and reconnect over and over and over again with my intuition. Those are mindfulness practices, somatic practices are getting into your body and being in nature. And it is. And it’s not necessarily something you can consciously do. It’s more than just by doing those things by being in nature by being in your body, you just naturally come back to intuition because intuition lives in the body and it lives in our sort of experience of the natural world maybe.

AB 19:39

And then, how does that intersect with experiencing nature itself?

TI 19:49

So it adds another layer.

You know, I think a lot of people start spending time in nature because it’s beautiful or because it’s good for them to get outside or to exercise and then it adds this deeper layer to our experience of being in nature that maybe can turn it into a lifelong passion or a lifelong pursuit. It’s where it becomes not just being in nature and going for a walk or going for a hike and getting outdoors but it becomes this transformative experience I want to say, of meeting ourselves and meeting our intuition and meeting our own mind.

AB 20:45

I feel like it’s almost like I want to call it a drug but I don’t mean a drug in a derogatory sense. I mean, drug like coffee, okay, like, I love coffee. Why do I love coffee? Because it makes my brain happy, right? When I, you know, they call coffee, liquid sunshine, okay? There’s something happening in my brain when I drink caffeine that makes me feel more alive makes me feel more alert, right? It connects me with the world around me. I feel like nature is that kind of drug for me. I need it. I need to refuel that way. If I want to continue to do the good things the rest of my life, right? I feel like the adrenaline or the hormone release that happens after I go for a run is that drug in my life? Right? Without the running there is no working. Right? Without the coffee, there’s no talking to people in the morning. Okay, without going outside and connecting with nature, that way there is no being for me.

TI 22:04

I think you nailed it.

AB 22:07

I’m encouraged to hear that that’s not just my experience. I think in a way maybe this podcast is a selfish pursuit for other people to tell me I’m not wrong.

TI 22:20

You’re definitely not wrong.

AB 22:23

Ah, if I wanted to have a podcast where we talked about controversial things we would do that but I don’t, so –

TI 22:31

Definitely withdrawal too. You know, I live in a city now and I have for the last year and a half and before that I lived outside of the city in the woods, but I’m usually leaving every couple of weeks either for retreat or to visit friends on a farm or to go to the beach. And I notice if I stay too long here, I feel the difference and I wonder if this is how people who just live in cities all of the time feel all of the time. But I know I noticed some really sort of dramatic shifts in my personality and how I sleep and how quickly I get annoyed about things. And how creative or I feel or don’t feel.

AB 23:18

Yeah. Do you think that people in cities, just who don’t have that connection with outdoors, or even not cities? I mean, there’s plenty of people who live all sorts of places who don’t spend a lot of time outside, right? They just don’t know what they’re missing.

TI 23:33

I think so. Because I know so many people who didn’t grow up necessarily spending time outdoors, but then once they sort of discovered the outdoors, then it stuck.

AB 23:44

Yeah, I think we spend our whole lives looking for something that’s right in front of us. It’s cheap. It’s free. It’s natural, right. It’s right there. All those things are true. Absolutely. You know, and it’s it’s so simple and obvious that it almost makes it harder.

So I want to talk about some of the practicalities of this. Because I imagine that hearing you and this, you know, talk about your traveling and talk about getting outside and climbing these mountains. People are thinking — yeah, sign me up, right? And then comma — but okay, so first of all, what’s the first step like from like, not existential, practical, actual practical, right? What’s the first step to letting go and heading out and doing this like, first actionable thing? Give us action.

TI 25:39

So are we talking about long term traveler just getting outside?

AB 25:43

What’s the long term track?

TI 25:47

Okay. First step is to commit to yourself. Because then you can very easily spend years saying — Oh, I really want to do that. I think I’m definitely going to do that at some point. I don’t know when, maybe next year. If you really commit to it and, even better, set a date that like by this time I will have sold my car, I will have bought the tickets to my first destination, I will have packed up everything I’m not taking with me and either stored it or sold it. And then all of a sudden it becomes much more real. And I’ve noticed not just with traveling but really with any kind of project or endeavor we want to take on, committing not just to ourselves but to people we love and trust around us, makes a huge difference. So getting some accountability buddies and telling them about your plan so that when you sort of double think it or second guess yourself, you have people around you who are holding you to your word.

AB 26:55

It’s hard to take action if you never decide to do it. Is that too silly and simple to say?

TI 27:02

It seems so obvious. I had a teacher who had a dance teacher who said — You have to do it, you just have to do it. Right?

AB 27:15

It’s funny because you said if I was, you wondered if I was asking about travel or going outside, but it’s actually the same step for both things. Like, you just have to make up your mind and do it, the end.

TI 27:27

And then the, you know, the really practical things of — Well, how do I get there? What gear do I need? All of those questions are very, actually very easy to answer. And there are so many resources to answer those questions, whether we’re talking about getting outside or long term travel. But to look for those answers, you have to take that very first step first.

AB 27:52

When people tell you they can’t or give you just like all these reasons why this isn’t going to work out or you know, excuses essentially right – which is not to minimize them so much is to label them, right? Because I think that people have a lot of reasons for not doing things. Family commitments would be a great example of something that seems like a bigger barrier, financial constraint. And I don’t want to minimize anybody’s, you know, experience with that or cultural ties or anything along those lines, right. So those are all things but if you really wanted to, you could find a way to overcome those things. Do you find that people bring those to you? And is that your reaction as well? Or am I a big jerk for thinking that, which is a fine response by the way.

TI 28:49

No, you’re not. You’re not a big jerk for thinking that. I think along similar lines, I do want to mention something I say in my book – that there are you know, everyone is living a different experience. And with different limitations, and maybe your way of being a vagabondess isn’t selling everything you own and moving to the other side of the world, maybe your way of being a vagabondess is committing to get out to the nearest hiking trails every weekend. It’s really more a way of a commitment of being in the world in a certain way with curiosity and openness and adventure, rather than — Oh, I love being in a specific place in the world.

AB 29:28

I love that. So I mean, I absolutely did read your book before talking to you, by the way, but, you know, I’m so glad you brought that up, because I somehow just sort of skated by that takeaway. And that is so so rich. Maybe that’s my own personal viewpoint, right? Because I come into things like less I said earlier, give me a list. Give me a checklist. Give me a plan. You know, you don’t have a plan. That’s me. And that is not necessarily one not necessarily the best way to have the most intuition seeking experience in something right? As you just pointed out, super unnecessary constraints on how we’re experiencing and perceiving the world. And that this concept is more about where you’re coming from than where you’re going.

TI 30:30

Exactly. And about who you are in every moment as you live it. I think that more than anything, if I had to break down what this archetype was, this character of the vagabondess — Who is she? She’s someone who very much exists in the present.

AB 30:54

Hmm.

TI 30:56

But I do so but I do want to answer your question about people sort of making excuses. Yes, there are real limitations. And not everyone is going to choose to sort of embody this vagabondess in the way that I’ve done. But a lot of people do come to me with those excuses. And they are excuses because they’re scared. It’s not that they’re really practical limitations so much as they’re mental limitations. And I guess, when I thought about who my audience was for this book as I was writing, I was thinking — Who am I writing this to? I had sort of specific women in my mind, who had come to me over the years that had been traveling and writing about traveling asking for advice, and their women who really did want to go. So it wasn’t a question of whether they really wanted to or not, it was that they were scared or they were using these practical excuses to to avoid making the commitment and chasing after the lifestyle that they really wanted to explore. And I really felt like most of them were just looking for someone just to look at them and listen to them and say — yes, you can do it. You don’t need to be scared. And you should go. Because there’s so much fear, especially for women traveling alone, especially for, I think people in the US leaving the US and going to foreign places, because there’s so much fear around that if you turn to the average person in your life with that idea. They’re going to list off any number of reasons why that’s a terrible idea and dangerous and you shouldn’t go.

AB 32:48

Have you personally experienced any of the things that people are worried about?

TI 32:54

I’ve had some sketchy situations as a woman traveling alone and I’ve been followed places more times than I can count. I’ve had lots of sort of negative interactions with men all over the world. It’s definitely not culturally specific. But I’ve never been in any really serious danger or dangerous situations.

AB 33:28

So it’s not that I don’t even want to call it fear. I want to call it caution that is unfounded. Or rather, it’s not that the fear is unfounded. It’s that it should be caution.

TI 33:41

It could be caution that drives us to take specific precautions like I have to plug self defense because I’m a self defense instructor. Now having done that training, I really would recommend it to any woman who wants to travel alone because it just gives you a lot more confidence in what your body and voice are capable of. It teaches you to de-escalate situations before it ever gets to the point of needing to physically defend yourself. So there are precautions we can take, we can take sort of practical steps in response to that feeling of fear or caution. But this is really important to me, this is sort of like a key point for me and I mentioned it in my book, and I mentioned it in my self defense classes, and I talk about it all the time. And it’s that it’s just not safe to be a woman in the world, whether you’re abroad or whether you’re at home, and actually the vast majority of violence towards women, if that’s what we’re afraid of. Traveling out there, the vast majority of those violent attacks and assaults happen at home, from intimate partners, from friends, from coworkers and from family members. So it’s not that there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not that, you know, it’s not dangerous to be a woman. It’s just, to my mind, looking at those numbers and looking at the reality of violence towards women, there’s no reason to be more afraid, being out there in the world than being right here at home wherever home is.

AB 35:20

Makes perfect sense. So back to practicalities, because I can’t get away from who I am as a person. The next big question is — how can you afford that? So how can you afford that?

TI 35:40

Sure. There’s lots of answers to that. The first trips I did, I saved up money. I didn’t buy any extras. It was just rent and groceries for a year and saved up enough money. And “enough money” really depends on how you want to travel, if you want to stay at nice hotels or nice Airbnbs and all and fly everywhere and go to a lot of different places, because the most expensive thing about traveling is getting from one place to another. I actually couldn’t even estimate what that would cost. If you want to go to one place, spend a long time, maybe do a work trade on an organic farm or a camp, if you know if you want to bring your lodging with you. That’s going to be a very different budget. But regardless, what it looked like for me for about a year of travel was I think it’s between $5,000 and $8,000. So it’s a large sum of money but it’s not astronomical for a lot of people. And a lot of people I’ve met traveling, we’re working professionals who were making good salaries and were able to save up a fair amount of money and then they just left their jobs and sold their cars, sold all their stuff and had enough money to travel for a few years non stop without working.

The other one other way you can do it and it’s what I did for most of my years of travel is you can try and get work that’s remote. And actually this is a really interesting moment to be talking about remote work because so much work has gone remote during this pandemic. And a lot of companies are realizing that actually what they thought needed to happen in the office can just as easily happen from home or happen remotely. So it might actually be an easier sell than it was a few years ago of trying to convince your boss and whatever your job is if you have a job that primarily happens in meetings and on the computer, trying to convince your boss that they should let you work remotely. And then there are jobs like editing and writing and graphic design that lend themselves to and teaching English as well and a few others that really lend themselves to being remote and working from anywhere.

AB 38:01

I was gonna say, one of the few blessings to come out of the pandemic, right, I’m always looking for the good over here, is that if we had to hunt for something, it would be that work from home is becoming even more friendly. I think that a lot of companies have seen that this is an entirely workable, maybe, I don’t know, is that a question? In a way that maybe you hadn’t seen before. And so the world is now our oyster, not to be cliche, in a way that it wasn’t before because of that, on the flip side, I know that there are and you sort of like brushed by this in your book, you know, that there are complexities as a American specifically working overseas, with taxes and all sorts of, you know, legal things in terms of doing so legally. And that of course, you want to be careful and make sure that you’re taking only the risks that you are okay with taking without giving any legal advice.

TI 39:13

So definitely not going to give any legal advice. I guess the only legal advice I would give is it’s a good idea to file taxes, just to be safe. And just to check, because another option and I, this, I see a lot of people doing this is to get work abroad. So to be teaching English at a school or to be teaching yoga, or surfing or, or working in a cafe. There’s lots of work, you can pick up other places, but you do want to be checking, if you’re worried about legality, you want to be checking about the legality of whatever that work is in the place that you are in the laws will obviously vary.

AB 39:55

Yeah, we have, I think listening to this podcast, quite a few military spouses which is a community that I come from, and they are, they face the challenge of this all the time that you are stationed somewhere abroad and trying to hold a job and suffering through all sorts of rules with taxes and the host country and base rules. It is a legal complexity nightmare. And so I probably honed in on that more than the average person would just because I have that experience listening to those stories from from the military spouse community. So something I noted probably because of that. What other practicalities are there?

TI 40:42

Hmm. I think the big one is sort of relationships with people at home. So that’s something people often want to know is — okay, they’re going to leave for a long time. And is it even possible to come back home after a trip like that, and what if they don’t have any friends when they come back? And what if everything’s different? And I think that’s a real concern that stops a lot of people from ever leaving, because they’re worried about how it will be to come back. And my answer is pretty simple. And it’s that don’t worry, things will probably be exactly the way you left them. That’s usually been my experience.

AB 41:33

Yeah, that’s it. That’s such good, good insight, because that is a fear, right? That you will experience some sort of loss due to lack of presence, and that’s certainly possible. But people, you know, families still exist, and they’re waiting for you to come home.

TI 41:55

And friends as well. It’s kind of a you know, you could sum it up by saying it’s a kind of FOMO fear of missing out, you know — what am I gonna miss out on if I’m gone for a year, six months or two years? Whatever it is, right families, family ties are stronger than that. My family’s stretched out all over the world now. And I don’t feel like they’re any less present or available to me. And some of my closest friends I see once a year, or once every couple of years when I visit the US or when I visit Europe. And maybe we stay in touch frequently, and maybe we don’t, and it doesn’t matter. Because I think strong friendships are stronger than a year of distance or a few thousand miles of distance.

AB 42:45

I guess maybe a final practicality. How do you know when it’s time to stop and it’s time to stop for a minute?

TI 42:51

It always comes back to intuition. I didn’t have a lot of practical reasons to stay in Costa Rica as long as I did, or to stay in South Africa as long as I did, it just felt good being there. For me being such a sort of nomadic traveler, there’s this strong pull to the unknown, to whatever’s out there, or to be somewhere else, to go somewhere else. And every time I’ve stayed longer, that pull has not been as strong. And the sense of wellbeing in the place that I am has been really strong. And then usually that switches when it’s time to go, and there’s this sort of sense of dis-ease, where I am in this really strong call to go somewhere else.

AB 43:48

I love it. All right. Well, I could talk to you for the rest of my life. But but maybe people don’t want to listen to that. So we’ve come to the end of our show where we talk about just sort of, I guess other practicalities, right. While acknowledging that gear isn’t as much a part of your life based on, you know, your lifestyle as it is for other people, certainly there are things that make it easier than you know than not. So tell us what is your favorite outdoor gear?

TI 44:19

I actually do have a very favorite piece of gear. And that’s my Osprey backpack. And I’ve had it, it’s still in great condition. I have had it since 2014. So it’s clearly very durable. I lived out of it non stop for about three years, maybe longer, lived, maybe four years, lived out of that backpack and carried it with me all over the world. I still take it on trips now when I go other places in Costa Rica in the region and it’s the 65 liter. I love it. If anyone wants a good pack, I definitely recommend that one.

AB 45:05

Awesome and what may be the most essential gear, something you can’t live without?

TI 45:09

Speaking to being in the outdoors, I would say a headlamp. And I know it’s essential because I have forgotten my headlamp so many times and you really need it because sometimes your phone dies or the flashlight just stops working, so it’s definitely up there. Also, if you’re going to be traveling someplace where you can’t drink the tap water. I love the portable UV filters. Those are really fantastic and a lot healthier than things like iodine tablets or chlorine which you don’t want to be using for a long time.

AB 45:48

Talk to us about, as a sort of final walkout, your – not necessarily a favorite as we discussed earlier – outdoor moment, but something that comes to mind if you close your eyes and pick for a moment of joy in the outdoors, where are you? What are you doing?

TI 46:04

Yeah, it would be impossible to choose a favorite because five different things just flashed behind my eyelids when you said that, but the one that comes to me right now was on Quran Island in Cambodia, where I went with the intention of spending just a couple days in 2013 and ended up spending a few weeks. And they have that phenomenon there on that coast of the phosphorescent plankton that light up at night. And one of my favorite, most joyful, magical travel memories is playing in the surf at night with a bunch of friends that I had just met there. And just watching these trails of luminescence sort of spread out around us and then you come out of the water and there’s just this sparkling water pouring off of your skin and it is one of the most special moments I’ve had in nature with the sea while traveling.

AB 47:13

Thank you for being on the Humans Outside Podcast today.

TI 47:15

Thank you for inviting me.

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