Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Cross the world four times (sivers.org)
131 points by damir 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

Years ago I realized sitting at a desk was not making me happy. So I quit my Software Engineering job and took 2 years to drive from Alaska to Argentina, having the time of my life. [1]

Then I worked for a bit again to save money, and quit again and just got back this year from 3 years driving all the way around Africa. [2]

The people I met, the places I saw and the lessons I learned will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I personally love the life.

I've decided I want to be a travel writer and photographer, because it makes me happy. I have way less money, but I'm happier than I've ever been. I have written a couple of books about my adventures, and I write for a slew of magazines now too.

Do what makes you happy.

[1] The Road Chose Me Volume 1 - https://amzn.to/2wkxceX

[2] 999 Days Around Africa - https://amzn.to/2H93IUH

I have been working as a JS dev for the past 17 years, I'm now 40, and what you wrote resonates with me so much. Even though I like coding and learning and trying out new stuff, I've developed this love for Spain's coasts, I just wish I could be there discovering it every single minute, being outside, being physically active. And the older I get, the more I feel this urgency to stop wasting my life at the desk. On the other hand, I have 2 small/ish children and a wife I need to provide for, virtually no savings, living in a landlocked Central European country with dark, cold winters. I wonder if I'm ever going to be able to escape this somehow and really do what I love, or be where I want to be, before I turn into an old man unable to do any physical activity.

And the winter is coming...again. :-(


P.S. Will definitely buy your book, so I can daydream with you.

You absolutely can do it. I met plenty of families living on the road, home schooling their kids, etc. etc.

For me, it all starts with savings. If you really, really want to break out of your current lifestyle, you have to start putting money away, and you have to start now. It might take 5+ years, but if you want it badly enough, you will find a way.

Keep in mind it's a lot (A LOT) cheaper than you think. Most people spend around $1500/mo for absolutely all expenses to drive around the entire world. [1] If you already have a place to live, it's really common to air b n b it out and live off the income from that while you're on the road.

We only get one life. Make sure you're doing what you want with it.

Good luck!

[1] http://theroadchoseme.com/the-price-of-adventure

I'm 47, and finally stopped daydreaming about a different life when I was around your age. You need to make the life you have better instead of fantasizing about escape. Work less, spend more time with your wife, spend more time with your friends. It worked for me

I'm working on this same inevitable outcome. I'm just not happy sitting at a desk doing development for a company. I'm happy when I'm traveling, meeting people, eating great food, and that's why I've grown a food/drink marketing side business. Soon, I'll depart from this 9-5 world.

Wow I thought your story sounded familiar, then I realized I follow you on Instagram! You have great content and a great story, but I didn't realize you had a book also.

Thanks! I'm locking myself away for this upcoming winter to write The Road Chose Me Volume 2 - Africa.

Also starting to get a more serious about planning the next big one!

Do post your Instagram, would love to follow you too!


Videos from all over Africa too - getting bribed in Nigeria, getting stuck in the Congo mud, rolling the Jeep in Uganda -


Did you have to get a new car insurance as you entered a new country or is there another way to do it?

Depends where you are in the world.

West Africa has a group of countries that use one kind of insurance (called Carte Brune) and East Africa have a bunch of countries that use one kind (called COMESA)

For central America you buy it for every country that need it (about $15/mo) and South America you can get it for multiple countries, or buy it separate.

Really interesting countries like South Africa the insurance is automatically included in the price of gas.

If you're going to travel the world many times, learn to sail and favor trains. Or define "world" as smaller than the actual globe.

The benefits of travel are numerous. They were there before our understanding of global heating and pollution. Times have changed since sentiments like in this post.

We have to factor our new understanding into our models for a good life. Seeing as how billions of people before flying led happy lives, flying around the world four times isn't necessary.

(To clarify, Derek didn't say you have to fly around the world four times. He wrote it generally enough that you could interpret it several ways, but I expect many people will interpret him to mean fly around the world four times.)

>If you're going to travel the world many times, learn to sail and favor trains.

Don't do it just for "the climate". There's something magic about sail and rail. Traveling this way makes the world feel immense. And it is. We just mostly miss it now riding in sky-cans from one Starbucks to the next.

We've travelled to Europe by train instead of air, and the journey is as much part of the experience as the destination. The cities we've stopped at, the new and often mostly tourist free places we've found, that still have unique national flavour. The travel time is no longer wasted, but part of the holiday. Some of the most magic views have been from the train.

We've also discovered far, far more nationally, and a lot of jewels off the beaten track away from the famous and touristy.

We'd miss that if we started going by air again. We mostly don't want to.

I once traveled Europe by car with a friend. Some 8000 kilometers, 13 or 14 countries, 1 month. It was magical.

Will never forget the owner of a small camp in rural Spain who didn’t spoke a word of English and was sooo excited to see foreigners that he fed us homemade grappa basically until we dropped. His treat of course.

Or the random village on the border of France and Belgium where we had a flat and had to ride our longboards into town and mime to people that we need help. They got us a tow truck from 2 villages over on a Sunday. All without us knowing a word of French or them a word of English.

Don’t waste travel time folks. It’s the best part of a vacation.

Yeah, it's exactly these sorts of lucky encounters in tiny restaurant or village, with a few local characters, or the bar lock-in you didn't even know you were invited to etc that stick the longest!

Sure beats 2 hrs in departures. :)

I think the author is suggesting to cross the world figuratively, not literally.

Crossing the world is exploring businesses, people, trends, culture. If you live in a big city, you can go around the world 10 times in a few miles.

It's nicely written. I have personally always felt traveling is very underrated as a means of education. In my late 30s now and feeling I missed a lot in my 20s. But life moves on.

To take it even further I'd suggest moving abroad for at least a year. It doesn't have to be far in terms of distance, but ideally it's reasonably far in terms of culture. For me personally this is what really broadened my horizons, much more so than traveling here or there for a few weeks. Moving sucks, and certainly moving abroad can be real hard work, but it's definitely a learning experience like few others I feel.

This. The 'working holiday' program offered by many countries is such a wonderful opportunity. It's a shame more don't take advantage of it.

The British call it a Gap Year, but it's common in many cultures (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) to live abroad and travel for an extended period of time.

Thank you, I had never heard of a working holiday before. Doing research now.

agreed, but it's a hard thing for many to do. I've been fortunate that I've had family in other parts of the world so I've been able to 'live like a local' in some places, even just for a few weeks at a time. By that I mean living with people who are carrying on regular lives - going to work, doing laundry, etc, and living in an average house/apartment (or.. sometimes above average). In essence, just the opposite of a package tour/hotel/sightseeing holiday trip. I know it's still not quite 'living' there - I'm not commuting to a job or going to school or whatnot over there, but it's different than living in a hotel just seeing tourist attractions.

Right, that it's hard is actually my point – it builds character. Even if you might be fortunate enough to not have to deal with the practicalities it's still difficult to acclimatize in a new culture, but it's an incredible learning experience. Even if you end up hating it, you'll have learned so much, and that easily offsets the bad parts I think.

For me, I lived in London for a few years. I hated most all about it. If I never live in London again it'll be too soon. But the experience – warts and all – taught me so much, that I don't think I'd ever learn "at home" so to speak. I grew as a person for it, and for that I'm ever grateful.

What did you hate so much about London?

If you don't have kids you can still do it.

Edit in response to replies: Going on vacation with kids is not the same as traveling the world and doing that with the family only works if you're upper class and have no worries about mortgage payments or job security so it's definitely not an option for most people.

We just came back from a month in India with our lovely 1.5 y/o twins. They honestly made the trip 10x better. Their awe and wonder really opened our eyes. And getting help is easy when you're around backpackers.


Arriving in India with a six-week-old child after an overnight flight taught me something about travelling with children: Problems evaporate.

Everyone was queuing for passport control — our whole flight and several others, probably close to a thousand people queuing in a very large room. One of the minders saw me carrying the baby and waved us out of the queue at once. Would we please go over to the VIP&Diplomat queue. So we did, and another minder waved us out of the queue again. No, we should not queue with the VIPs&Diplomats, we should go straight past that queue and be processed immediately. The whole thing took about a minute.

That was how the trip started and that was how the rest was, too. 10/10 would do again.

This is not how it always goes, especially in India. You were incredibly lucky.

Incredibly lucky? Incredible means unbelievable. People consistently bent the odds in my favour, is a positive outcome unbelievable then?

If you want to play semantics then let’s say exceptionally lucky instead.

I wondered whether that's what you were doing... setting up a sneaky strawman comparison using "always" and "incredibly", which are everyday words and unremarkable because of that, but both words strong in literal meaning.

If having no problems in a place like this: http://yris.yira.org/essays/1150 is the exception, then what's the rule?

You can also do it if you do have kids.

Way too often we think about kids as limiting factor. We try to tell them what they should do, while all we need to do is to show them.

This. I'm in my 30s, and have two kids. On my 3rd trip of the year as I write this and my wife and are planning trips 4 and 5 before the year is up. First trip of next year is in the works as well.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. It's difficult and at times frustrating, but absolutely worth it.

The way I think about it is: kids are difficult at home or abroad. You might as well go on an adventure and do something interesting with them regardless.

I’m Australian, married with three young kids. Earlier this year, we flew to the US, bought an old bus, renovated it cheaply in Walmart carparks and drove across the continent twice. 20+ states over three months, including a lunch in Mexico. Slept in the bus, in motels, etc. Kids are 1, 4 and 6. It was brilliant.

Does anyone have a few ideas or pointers how one could move across the world for 6-12 months as a single parent to two children under age 6?

do you need to work or not?

3 people can live like kings in most of the western hemisphere, thailand, etc. on $20K a year, or live decently on $10K a year. you won't be moving locations often since that tends to be more expensive than just "living" but you can definitely do a stint abroad on a few thousand.

if you need to work, get a remote setup either via contract or remote company, understanding you'll probably need to work a lot less given your necessary expenses.

Even if you have kids you can still do it. Tons of people travels with their kids (including demanding travels).

Indeed. Whilst travelling I've met people quite a few people who had no idea how differently other people lived around the world until they saw it themselves. That knowledge of "other" is typically of great benefit to someone.

Don't worry. Traveling will be taboo in a few years when environmental disaster hits us all for real. It's already happening. People who keep flying will be frowned upon.

People were journeying around the world before the Wright brothers were born. Getting from Austin to Bali for a "weekend getaway" might no longer be feasible, but travelling will.

All the protests against carbon taxes and other policies that avoid CO2 make me believe otherwise. For me the weird part is that those who fight against climate change seem to always be on the winning side.

it is metaphorical. (to the people arguing how expensive it is to travel)

very nicely written, but i disagree with it because i believe that we have to look more inward than outward in order to be able to die (not sure how to express that correctly, but i hope you know what i mean).

I wonder how many of those commenters didn't even read TFA before commenting.

Taking advantage of it. Mid 20s, Moved my stuff to parents house and exploring Asia while working remotely. Sometimes it’s lonely and pricey, but its one of a kind opportunity.

And lastly hackernews: cross the world infinitely by allowing future generations to turn us into data

You are already data. Energy is essentially bits. Matter is an arrangement of information. Biological life and your conscious mind is a temporal phenomenon that arises on the gradient of density.

The Sanctuary and I await your contribution.

To the people saying it's too expensive for most people to travel: you can work and travel simultaneously. Lots of hostels offer room and board in exchange for working there, others pay cash. You can work as a club promoter or a laborer or as a freelance programmer, since this is HN, abroad. I have met people that have been on the road for over 5 years continuously; I assure you they didn't start out with any significant savings.

Not to mention travel is almost definitely cheaper than rent in San Francisco.

The real trick is not keeping your apartment while you go travel for a long time.

Jesus christ hackernews, not everyone lives in SF

Well I do and it crosses my mind often how much I could travel on a $3500/month budget :D

But anywhere you are, foregoing a home base makes travel a lot more affordable.

> To find old friends, and find that they’re gone

That line almost made me cry.

The pain of loss. I know. Your mind always tells how different things could have been if only if you did that one thing differently. I wish I could travel the fifth time to the past and probably change my stupid and cruel ways. If not that at least say sorry to them. I can now say sorry to the image I hold of them in my head.

Nice if you can afford it.

tldr; travel the world in your 20s, 30s, 50s, and at the end of your life.

I'd actually change it to 20s, 40s, 60s, and 80s.

I'm 40 now and I know nothing.

I'm 21 and I know everything. Or at least I think I do...

This feel excessively glib

I agree.

This is pretentious and pretty bad advice.

Does the author believe most people can afford to quit working for a period of time, let alone afford to travel around the world? Does this author look down upon those who aren't so well traveled, view them as lesser or less deserving?

I don't like it either. I don't think Sivers is especially pretentious, but to me this just reads like a third-rate poem - I see what he's saying, but I don't think he says it well

edit: Just realised Derek will probably read this. Sorry dude, I think you're a good guy, but you can do better than this

Perhaps I'm just unfamiliar with the rest of his work. But this, and a brief perusal of his page, carries the same air as those self-help books written by the wealthy and privileged.

If this is intended as advice, I stand by my judgement that it's just not good. But I also think others would see that it's not good, we all generally understand travel as another form of consumerism and something available only to the wealthy. So it probably isn't advice.

But if this is a metaphor, then there is meaning that I don't understand and I withdraw my judgement.

I can’t say for certain, but I don’t think that is the case. However, the author did have the benefit of making $4MM off of his company before selling it for $22MM in his late thirties. I didn’t get the sense, though, from a brief perusal of his site that he’s remarkably pretentious or looks down on those less well-traveled.

> This is pretentious and pretty bad advice. Does the author believe most people can afford to quit working for a period of time, let alone afford to travel around the world?

It's a metaphor.

I don't see how this is a metaphor, it seems to be pretty much on-the-face as recommending people travel the world four times.

It didn't strike me as one, and I'm not sure what it would be a metaphor for.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact