Thought Catalog

I Travel For A Living, And Here’s What You Learn Living Life Through The Lens

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For the last 11 years, I’ve traveled the world with my long-time travel buddy — my camera — documenting my incredible global experiences for my worldwide audience. What started off as a hobby has quickly grown into a full-time career, and I couldn’t picture my life any other way.

I’ve been to 50 countries and have experienced incredible and life-changing experiences: dancing for a king, studying under His Holiness the Dalai Lama, working on a vegan commune, climbing an active volcano, and rafting in the Amazon rainforest, just to name a few. During my travels, I’ve witnessed the many differences we share as a species, but more than that, I’ve seen the many similarities we share regardless of race, culture, gender, or nationality.

I’ve filmed all of these adventures on my YouTube channel, Hopscotch the Globe, sharing my experiences with over 85,000 people each week. Seeing the world from behind a lens and watching how people interact with each other, behave, and respond has had a profound impact on me. It’s allowed me to see and connect with people in a way I never imagined.

beetlejuice

1. Kids love the camera — but adults don’t!
Kids love to be on camera. They go nuts over it. I remember when I was living in Cape Coast, Ghana, and a group of kids I would see every day outside of my house would literally run at full speed toward me when they saw the camera. They would make me take photos of them and especially loved when I hit the record button. They’d make funny faces and laugh with and at each other. They LOVED it!

I’m always surprised at how camera shy adults are, on the other hand. I think this is because as we grow up, we become more judgmental of ourselves and dwell on our flaws rather than celebrating what we love most about ourselves. Kids aren’t as self-conscious and just love seeing themselves on camera.

2. Family is all you need.
About nine years ago, I was filming my first documentary in Peru and I met a family of eight living in extreme poverty. They were living under a scrap metal roof and had to walk many kilometers just to get clean water, yet they had a bond they shared with each other that was unlike any I’ve seen in Canada. They never stopped smiling. As the mother said, “We may not have much, but we have each other and with my family, I am happy.” I’ll never forget that.

3. People are good.
Today, when the world seems like it is on the verge of disaster and there are so many bad people doing horrible and unforgivable things, it’s easy to forget there is more good than evil out there. The news always dwells on what’s wrong in our world and doesn’t celebrate all the amazing people and things that are happening. But, people around the world want peace and understanding, community and togetherness than don’t. That’s why love will win, because there are more people filled with love than hate.

The more you travel, the more you see how much love there really is in this world. I especially felt the love while I was living in India. People were always helping one another regardless if they knew each another. During my first month in India, I arrived at a train station late at night and had no idea where I was going to go. This family saw me kind of panicking and offered to take me to their house. I know this might seem like a red flag, a situation where you would politely decline the offer, but I followed my gut and said yes. (Turns out the family worked in Bollywood, lived in a mansion, and spoiled me like no one had before.)

4. Everyone wants to be a star.
We all dream of being stars. As soon as I tell people that I travel the world and make videos on YouTube for a living, they cannot believe what they are hearing. Everyone replies with, “You have the dream job!” and “I wish I could do that!”

People always ask me how I do what I do, wish they could be on Youtube, or just do something that gave them a little bit of a spotlight. Traveling has taught me the majority of us harbor secret desires to be in the spotlight and be in front of a camera.

5. People are more alike than they are different.
The more I travel and the more cultures I dive into, the more I realize how similar we are and that our differences all come from the same needs. We want to believe in something bigger than ourselves, we want to love and be loved, we want to be respected and to feel safe, we love to celebrate something whenever possible, and we all love to eat. Even though we may approach these basic wants and needs differently, in the end we are all alike in regard to these basic things in life.

6. Solo female travel isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be.
I’ve travel by myself often. People often think that traveling the world as a solo female is dangerous and foolish. I used to internalize that fear and was nervous when I first started. But the more I traveled, the more I realized that solo female travel is no scarier than being back at home.

I’ve never felt unsafe, even when traveling solo for three months across India (which many people find intimating). Of course, like anywhere in the world (even your own backyard), you use your common sense and follow your gut in every situation. That’s my biggest tip for anyone thinking of taking a solo trip.

You can’t live in fear. Traveling the world has made me a stronger, more independent woman by giving me the chance to break out of my shell and prove that I’m a capable person.

7. Travel is a privilege.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for getting to do what I do. I know that people dream of seeing the world, and I get to do it for a living. More than 2.8 billion people — nearly 40% of the world’s population — survive on less than $2 USD a day! Those who are too sick, have parents or children to care for, work two jobs to make rent, or just lost out on the “golden passport lottery” might never be able to even explore their own country, let alone travel the world. Travel is privilege, and the more I do it, the more I am thankful for the luck and opportunity I have compared to so many others. I think that has been one of the biggest lessons of them all for me.

beetlejuice

Video connects us in a way words never will. When you watch a video of a place, the colors, shapes, smiles of the people, and sounds draw you into the story and make you feel as if you were there, experiencing it with the person filming. It can be a magical and very inspiring experience. When I watch video and playback what I’ve shot, I’ve transported back to where I was and feel even more connected to the world. Travel is an eye opening experience. It may not be for everyone. Long term travel the way I do it might make most people cringe but the more I travel, the more I get to understand the world we live in.

But more importantly, it’s allowed me to find and understand myself – my hopes, dreams, and desires. It’s taken me out of my comfort zones, made me less shy, more outgoing, and more confident in who I am and what I can do.

I think that’s been the most important lesson of them all. TC mark

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