Vagabonding Case Study: Jarryd Salem

On December 25th, 2015

 Jarryd Salem of NOMADasaurusJarryd Salem Portugal Cabo Da Roca Vagabonding

Age: 27

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Quote: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?

I was working back in Australia saving for my current trip. I was getting really jaded with life, thinking that I was never going to reach my idealistic monetary goal before I could leave again. I did some research on books to inspire and motivate me and Rolf Potts’ ‘Vagabonding’ kept coming up. I ordered it online and read it in the month leading up to me finally leaving. It helped reaffirm my ideas that leaving my home country again was the right path for me.

How long were you on the road?
Since leaving Australia in 2007, I have spent about 4.5 years overseas traveling and working. At the moment I am 9 months into my new adventure, backpacking overland from SE Asia to South Africa without using any air transportation.

Where did you go?
I moved to Canada for my first solo trip overseas, then returned a second time. I loved the Great White North, and met my current girlfriend, Alesha, there 6 years ago. After Canada we spent 8 months backpacking around Central America and are now based in South East Asia.

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
I worked primarily in the construction industry in Australia to help fund this journey. A range of different jobs ranging from residential building, machine operating, heavy transportation and civil construction.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?
In Canada I worked a lot during Summer and as little as possible in Winter. I just wanted to make sure I had enough money to fund my snowboarding and partying lifestyle when I was younger. Now I am trying to make a living from travel writing and blogging.

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
I would have to say Guatemala. The people were so patient and welcoming, despite their turbulent past. The landscapes were varied and captivating and I fell in love with the Spanish language. A fascinating place that constantly surprised me everyday.

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
Definitely not a least favorite, but Myanmar was by far the most challenging. As the country has only recently been opened up to tourism there is very little infrastructure setup for travelers. I love this kind of travel, but the mix between highly dangerous transportation options, the difficulty in finding food in some towns and constantly being approached by curious people proved to be challenging. That being said I would go back in a heartbeat.

Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?
Definitely my Leatherman multi-tool. I have had mine since before I started traveling in 2007 and still use it to this day. Whether it is cutting up fruit or fixing parts on my motorcycle, it has proved to be invaluable. Least useful is some straps I bought to tie my smaller backpack to my larger one, thinking it would make long walks between stations and hostels easier. I haven’t used them once.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Constantly evolving the way you interpret situations and value experiences. Becoming more aware and tolerant of different cultures. Pushing the limits of your comfort zone to the point where very little worries you anymore. I look at how much I have changed and who I have become today, compared to the person that first left home in 2007, and I am immensely satisfied. The vagabonding lifestyle has allowed me to appreciate the small things in life and become a better person.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Having  fleeting  friendships  with  people. Even though I have made plenty of lifelong friends over the years, most of these great people I have only spent a couple of hours, days or weeks with. It makes it hard to actually get to know anyone on a deeply personal level. Having little routine in life is also a blessing and a curse. I love that every day is different, but sometimes I long for some form of structure in life. But only sometimes.

What lessons did you learn on the road?
Trusting my instincts is a big one. Also to be more open to different opinions and ideas. I never realized how closed-minded I was until I started traveling, and being on the road taught me to see the worth in every person.

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
I never used to view vagabonding as a way of life really. To me it was just “being on the road”. That has changed since I have been on this current trip. I have started to develop the notion that “vagabonding” is a mindset, a mission, an attitude and passion. It is longing to pursue your dreams, and striving to achieve them no matter what the obstacles It is seeing the world through fresh eyes and respecting every piece of it. It truly is a way of life.

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
Say yes more.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
Decide if it is something that you actually want to do. Think about what you want to achieve from embarking on a new adventure. Picture yourself not just in the incredible situations, but also the stressful. Ask yourself if you want to grow as a person and in what way. If you have questioned yourself on these things and still want to become a vagabond, do everything in your willpower to make it happen. Keep your eye on the goal and never except no for an answer. Your soul will thank you for it.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
I am already on my next long-term journey. While the ultimate goal is the one of backpacking overland with my girlfriend from Thailand to South Africa without using any air transportation, the current mini-journey-inside-a-journey has been traveling around and riding a cheap Chinese motorcycle in South East Asia for the last 9 months. With no ‘end date’ in sight, the adventure continues, and vagabonding is now my way of life.

Read more about Jarryd on his website, NOMADasaurus.

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Image: davebloggs007 (flickr)