Funding Globetrotting Lifestyle for Non-Bourgeoisie Members of Society

woman raising her hands facing cityscape near body of water
Is globetrotting possible if you’re less priviliged? (Photo by

Let’s be transparent. Do you think globetrotting is possible for everyone on earth regardless of their economic status?


It is very sad to see that some people are still disillusioned by this misleading campaign from European backpackers and digital nomads.

Each of us has no equal access to globetrotting lifestyle. What I mean by this lifestyle is someone who leads a life and constantly travels around the world and – what irks most – still makes money. A lot of money even!

And the example is just before my eyes.

There sat a Caucasian guy, with a towering and slender figure. His iPhone is not new but still it’s an iPhone. It’s not an Android phone with some Chinese, less known brand.

And a girl with hijab sitting wistfully opposite him, waiting for a chance to ask a question in her mind.

She ‘interrogated’ him mercilessly,”Okay, so I want to live a life like you, too. I want to travel around the world. How can you do that? Tell me.”

She is in her early twenties and I couldn’t blame her for her naiveness.

The white guy in his Western coast accent paused a while.

He weighed and selected his words really carefully, as if he had been dealing with a hopeful, gleeful children inside a dream bubble. He didn’t want to prick that bubble and destroy her wishful thinking in a second.

But he really had to get the bitter truth across.

“Hmmm, actually that’s not an easy question. True that I have privilege to be thankful for: I was born and grew up in the United States; my family is quite well-off; I have a proper education. I feel so lucky for all of this….”

He was lost. But he didn’t give up easily. He continued consoling her.

“But having that said, I also made efforts to deserve this.” The guy still tried to convince her that this lifestyle is possible but there are caveats she ought to not ignore.

The guy took advantage of his being a native English speaker by taking an English teaching gig at a developing country. Though he seemed a bit hesitant about whether being a white person automatically justifies his or her validity to teach English (he is very critical about this superficial standard).

Living as an English teacher won’t make him rich. But in a developing country, liviing on a wage of an expatriate English teacher is still doable and noble even. One is well-fed and not looked down by the society. It’s totally a secure job if one is fond of teaching and language and has nothing else to be passionate about in life.

What is often forgotten, he said, about this lifestyle is that someone is prone to financial instability. As he put it, “You’ll also have to live in a modest manner, though you’re not downright poor either. And at times you’ll realize that in such lifestyle, life can be so ‘dynamic’, everchanging and flimsy.”

That did break her heart and hope. I took pity on the fervent girl.

So when I was reading some travel blog where I stumbled upon an article that boasts numerous ways to make money as a globe trotter, I was far from being impressed. It was written by an illustrious travel blogger I have never heard of before. Despite that, she seemed to be enjoying quite a success back in her homeland. On her private travel blog, she claimed her blog is one of the best travel blogs there are. The design looks professional; the wording is awesomely enchanting and clean and efficient; the quality of images is above average; accessibility is well thought. Every single detail is talentedly crafted, I observe. I appreciate her hard work.

Yet, her advice in the listicle offers an oversimplistic approach that may be misleading to most less critical young readers and hopefuls.

Not all of the advice is doable, such as teaching English as a second language (TESOL). First thing first, you cannot teach just because you speak English as a mother tongue. Teaching is not something everyone can do without proper training, certification, and other professional preparation. Being able to speak like a native even is not enough to pove that one is capable of teaching a class of foreign students.

Web designing, writing a travel blog, photography may be some other popular options to survive during the globe trotting journey. But sometimes you have to know the limit is.

But it’s worth trying still even if you think this lifestyle is not for you.

I have tried once and failed. Pretty much because I’m not a carefree person with less regular schedules and routines. I want some consistency in life and regularity helps me focus better with anything I do. I couldn’t focus on my art when I am still worrying about how I can survive the next month or the other month. This anxiety may emerge without apparent symptoms but I felt so haunted by it. And in the uncertain economy, stability of economy seems to be everyone is after. One way to get that stability back is by trading some of your freedom. (*/)

This Is Why We Naturally Feel Happier After Taking Photos on Trips

Taking photos while traveling is a common practice, even an addiction among travelers. But to what extent does taking photos benefit us in experiencing our golden life moments? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Nils Öberg)

There’re moments when I’m traveling I would be so enthusiastic I forget taking pictures. As a yoga practitioner, I’m told that being so immersed in your positive experience means that you just have to forget taking pictures. Because taking pictures is deemed a distraction of my genuine experience. Also, I see some friends who are going somewhere just to take pictures for their Instagram feeds instead of experiencing things around them: nature and themselves. So why ruining our life moments with taking photos that are just shown for the sake of impressing other people?

That was what I used to think of taking pictures during travels. But finally our addiction of taking photographs while we’re on travel is justified by science.

Cited from American Psychological Association, scientists found that those who like taking photographs of their experiences usually enjoy the events more than people who don’t. A team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania discovered how taking photos impacts our enjoyment of life experiences. Compared to those who don’t take photos, those who do feel heightened enjoyment of positive exxperiences.

So how could this happen?

The explanation is this: taking photos helps us boost engagement in our activities we’re doing. And I can see that some of those who are enthusiastically document their experiences in photos are more enthusiastic and engaged. They look more motivated and high in spirits.

However, it’s not all about good news. There’re times when taking photos just won’t be advantegous to us as it is dependent on types of activities we’re involved in. If the activity is more about arts and crafts, chances are we’d better avoid taking photos to be more engaged in the experience. This totally makes sense. How can you enjoy making, let’s say, a vase with your hands if you’re always taking photos?

What is interesting is also the size and practicaility of the equipment of photography. Cumbersome cameras will slow down us on a trip and definitely less easy to use on the go.

The final conclusion is our documenting should not just about taking pictures with cameras. We also need to get actively involved and decide selectively as to which moments are worth documenting and which are not.

The researchers also touched on the importance of taking ‘mental photographs’, meaning that we so actively participate in whatever we’re doing we cannot forget all of experiences in it. So, again this is not always about how many clicks of camera shutter in your hands but more about engagement and participation with your mind, body, and soul. (*/)

Travel Writer Anida Dyah Berbagi di #awesomejourney

MERANDAI ITU BRUTAL! Ia memaksa setiap orang yang ada di dalamnya untuk melepas ego, mempercayai orang asing dan kehilangan semua kenyamanan yang selama ini sudah dinikmati. Menjadi perandai juga mau tidak mau mendorong manusia membuka pikirannya terhadap hal-hal yang ada di luar dirinya. Itulah sisi menantang dari kegiatan berkelana bebas alias backpacking di tanah asing. Begitu kata penulis perjalanan (travel writer) Anida Dyah, yang siang tadi di Conclave Wijaya Jakarta mencoba meyakinkan kami bahwa aktivitas melancong tak selamanya indah. Ada sisi-sisi liar yang harus dimaklumi dan diatasi.

Saya sepakat. Jangankan bepergian dengan orang yang baru dikenal, bepergian dengan keluarga terdekat atau teman kerja kita ke
tempat-tempat yang lazim dikunjungi turis saja sudah memunculkan banyak masalah. Apalagi jika kita harus bersama-sama dalam sebuah perjalanan dengan orang asing ke tujuan yang entah kapan akan berakhir. Karena rencana di atas kertas atau dalam benak bisa saja buyar dari detik pertama perjalanan dimulai.

Lain dari kebanyakan orang yang menganggap melancong sebagai cara melarikan diri dari rutinitas (baca: dunia nyata), Anida menggunakan perjalanan sebagai sebuah alat untuk memberikan terapi bagi diri. “[…] juga media untuk mewujudkan mimpi-mimpi saya waktu kecil dan pencarian jati diri,” ungkap wanita lulusan jurusan arsitektur Universitas Parahyangan yang telah membuahkan satu karya buku dari perjalanannya itu.

Anida ‘menyalahkan’ sang ayah atas hasratnya yang begitu tinggi dengan petualangan. Perempuan asal kota gudeg itu mengakui sudah ‘dicekoki’ buku-buku petualangan sejak kecil. Dari buku tulisan Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe hingga Lima Sekawan karya Enid Blyton dilahapnya.

Keinginannya merandai ke luar negeri makin berkuliminasi tatkala ia merasakan kejenuhan yang tidak terbendung lagi di tahun kelima bekerja dalam sebuah perusahaan Singapura.

Tahun 2009 menjadi titik balik bagi kehidupan Anida karena sang ibunda meninggal dunia akibat kanker. “Saya terpikir untuk keluar dari zona nyaman dan me-reset hidup saya dari nol,” kenang penulis buku Under the Southern Star itu.

Tak pikir panjang, Anidya memutuskan untuk melakukan perjalanan ke Australia. “Saya beli tiket untuk pergi ke Australia dan izin ke ayah saya untuk melakukan perjalanan setidaknya satu tahun. Saya sejujurnya tidak tahu kapan akan pulang.”

Dan mental Anida diasah begitu ia tiba di Perth, Australia. Ia yang sudah merasakan kenyamanan bekerja sebagai seorang project manager di perusahaan besar saat itu harus rela bekerja kasar sebagai pelayan restoran selama 3 bulan yang gajinya ia tabung untuk biaya berkelana.

“Setelah 3 bulan itu, saya melanjutkan perjalanan dengan mencari tumpangan dari Perth untuk sampai ke Melbourne,” ucapnya.Ia mencari tumpangan dengan mengiklankan dirinya di sebuah situs di negeri kanguru. Ia dipertemukan oleh takdir dengan sebuah rombongan backpacker yang isinya 3 orang Jerman dan 1 dari Prancis. Kisah perjalanannya selama 30 hari bersama rombongan inilah yang kemudian ia tuangkan dalam buku Under the Southern Star.

Dari Australia, Anida berlanjut ke Selandia Baru. Sebagai penggemar berat film trilogi Lord of the Ring, ia mewajibkan diri berkunjung ke setting film tersebut di sana dan menyaksikan pemandangan dari langit. Bekerja sebagai fotografer lepas, ia pun menuju ke Skandinavia (Finlandia) dan Afrika Utara, tepatnya Maroko.

Anida mengklaim destinasi bukan hal terpenting. Ia juga sudah mengabaikan panduan, biaya, dan sebagainya yang biasa diperhatikan pelancong reguler atau turis. “Kita tidak bisa menentukan budget karena tiap orang bisa berbeda tergantung cara melakukan perjalanan,” cetusnya.

Dalam mengabadikan pengalaman perjalanan, Anida mengandalkan cerita yang bermuatan emosi yang bisa mengajak pembaca terlibat di dalamnya. Seolah pembaca turut berada di belakangnya. Ini yang membuat kisah perjalanan menarik diikuti, bukan cuma sederet fakta atau jurnal pribadi biasa.

ANIDA BEBERKAN KIATNYA untuk menulis kisah perjalanan yang bernas. Yang pertama yakni setting/ latar tempat. Jangan hanya menggambarkan secara mentah tetapi juga membagikan kisah di balik latar itu.

Interaksi juga penting untuk dilakukan dengan manusia yang ditemui di sekeliling selama perjalanan. Karena dengan begitu, asumsi-asumsi dan stigma dalam benak kita yang terbentuk pasca observasi semata bisa diverifikasi. Apakah memang benar demikian atau tidak? Sikap skeptis itu perlu dipelihara seorang penulis perjalanan. Anida mencontohkan saat ia menulis tentang detil mengenai tato seorang teman
perjalanannya yang bertema Viking. Nuansa unik dan personal inilah yang ia telisik dan angkat untuk memperkaya kisahnya. Dan untuk itu, ia tak segan bertanya pada orang yang bersangkutan. Untuk bisa mendapatkan detil unik itu, Anida menyarankan kita untuk selalu mencatat. Urusan nanti dipakai dalam tulisan atau tidak bukan masalah besar. Yang penting mencatatnya dulu serinci-rincinya.

Temukan juga hal-hal baru dan menarik yang belum banyak diangkat orang. Caranya bisa saja dengan menjelajahi tempat-tempat yang tak banyak dikunjungi wisatawan. Anida sendiri menemukan bahwa ternyata Australia bukan hanya kota-kota besar modern dan tempat tinggal koala dan kanguru, tetapi juga sarang banyak hewan beracun seperti kalajengking, ular, dan sebagainya. “Australia juga duta masa lalu — duta purba,” tuturnya sambil menunjukkan fotonya di sebuah bebatuan raksasa lebar di tepi pantai selatan benua itu yang ia katakan sebagai titik patahan antara Australia dan Antartika puluhan juta tahun lalu saat Pangea (satu benua raksasa) masih ada. Sejarah masa lalu ini bisa diselipkan dalam kisah perjalanan juga.

“Konflik itu pemicu agar orang terus membaca,” saran Anida. Jadi tidak hanya dalam novel atau cerpen saja penulis membutuhkan konflik. Dalam kisah perjalanan pun, hendaknya kita bisa mempertajam konflik agar pembaca terus membaca hingga lembar terakhir. Konflik kecil bisa digunakan sedemikian rupa untuk menarik kisah perjalanan. Memilih makanan untuk dikonsumsi saja bisa dijadikan satu konflik menarik, jelas Anida. Konflik yang dialami rombongan Anida saat itu misalnya adalah saat mobil mereka melintasi gurun di tengah musim panas yang suhunya bisa mencapai 45 derajat Celcius dan kehabisan bensin sebelum mencapai tujuan.

Akhirnya, semua konflik eksternal itu menggiring kita untuk masuk dalam diri kita sendiri. Refleksi diri juga menjadi bagian penting dalam sebuah kisah perjalanan sehingga membuat kisah itu lebih personal dan emosional. Sepanjang perjalanannya, Anida kadang teringat dengan ingatan-ingatan masa lalu yang masih tertanam dalam.
Kontemplasi internal ini menarik pula untuk dikemukakan. Bagi Anida, aspek kontemplasi ini disimbolkan dalam judul bukunya. Bintang selatan itu melambangkan sang ayah yang sejak kecil mengenalkannya pada rasi bintang pari yang menjadi penunjuk arah selatan. “Dan kebetulan rasi bintang pari juga menjadi lambang dalam benderanya. Bagi kaum Aborigin, rasi bintang pari itu jelmaan dari ketua suku mereka Mirabuka yang setelah wafat diangkat sebagai dewa langit dan bertugas menunjukkan arah bagi mereka yang tersesat.”

Colin Thubron on the Arts of Travel Writing and …KGB?

I should tell you I was clueless when Deepika Shetty mentioned Colin Thubron as her featured author on that fine Friday morning (3/10) at Ubud Writers Readers Festival 2014.So apparently he is a renowned British traver author and novelist. Having travelling in China, Central Asia, and Russia, his monumental works among other things are “Among the Russians”, Behind the Wall”, “In Siberia”, and “Shadow of the Silk Road”. Since 1960-s, he has won many prizes and awards in literary world. That was a pinch of information I got from the guidance. And I was glad I was there watching Thubron discussing a lot of things in travel writing.

It’s all about finding differences, he explained. He travels to find the differences that you cannot find only by seeing maps. By travelling, he wants to reassure himself that these countries are humans, too. “They’re not mere blank spaces on the map,” he
confirmed,”They’re human beings with the sort of problems like all of us.” But aside from differences, Thubron are also interested in searching for common elements in these people in foreign countries.

One interesting story was when he told he was chased by KGB agents who wanted to know what he wrote on his notebooks. Luckily it was written in English and his handwriting was too small for others to read. He never expected anything bad happened during his travel. As a travel writer, Thubron claims he travels not for enjoyment but for
experience, which reminds me of why I came to Ubud. I wanted to experience this literary festivity!

Having gone to a boarding school since the tender age of 7, Thubron said it wasn’t easy as he was to constantly adapt to ever changing environment and social circles. And his early experience with boarding school helped him to a certain extent to understand the diversity of humanities. But not everyone in a boarding scholl has got the same impact on their lives. Some grow with less ability of giving empathy to others and lower adaptability to environment.

Thubron also told us that there are grey areas in life, that the borderlines in the map of the world are just lines. They don’t guarantee that a country is free from other countries’ influence or impact or mixture. He witnessed directly how blurred these lines can be in real life. He found blue eyed people in Afghanistan and China as he roamed these two countries, making us rethink those stereotypes we have in our mind about nations around the world. He referred to this as “ethnic reality”.

As he was asked what the most ambitious journey for him has been so far, Thubron answered,”Afghanistan.” He was amazed by the cultural complexity.

Details could be the key to his being a great travel writer, Thubron stated. That said, I really wanted to purchase his book but alas, the copies were sold out during the festival.

He’s working on his new book (a novel), and still travels at 75, which is like MARVELOUSLY HEALTHY AND FIT! Because my grandmother is 76 and she’s bed-ridden due to stroke. She’s alive but not as lively and lucky as Thubron. The writer who visited Bali for the first time 20 years ago told about his new novel which he desribes being
“complicated” and related to his memory.

One of the oddest thing about being a published author, Thubron who is a son of a diplomat said, was when the time of release was approaching and an author has lost his interest towards the work but he still has to deal with a lot of book interviews. He’s apparently not alone because Elizabeth Gilbert also complained the same issue as well on one of her interviews as long as my memory serves.

Suddenly what you wrote in the newly launched book seems stale, silly and childlike and doesn’t reflect who you really are now. But that’s pretty much normal because that means we are evolving.

Not everyone can be a travel writer, I guess. You need to be single or if you’re married, you have got to have a very understanding spouse. At least that’s what Thubron – who is childless – told the audience. His wife is a scholar and his being a travel writer who enjoys nomadic life style seems to be the result of compromise between the two.

I was lucky enough to ask one question for Colin Thubron on what country he considers the most challenging or interesting to write about as a travel writer in the future. I ask if North Korea would qualify, and he nodded. He argued as soon as a closed country like North Korea can be more open and accessible to foreigners, he won’t mind going there and write about it.

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