When I was 19, I left on my first solo trip. It was a pretty big deal considering the fact that I was born to parents who had never left the United States. I really can’t remember why or how I did it, but I remember wanting to experience more. I didn’t even know what a hostel was at the time, so I booked the cheapest hotel I could find (the only one I could afford). After walking up and down the airport terminal for 2-3 hours, I finally got a taxi to my hotel. I got ripped off and I was terrified. After spending about $50, the driver took me to a really dodgy end of town. I had read a boatload of articles about drive in robberies or whatever they’re called. The guy even told me he was surprised my hotel would be in such a crappy part of town. By the way, transport in Mexico City is awesome (cheap). You can get anywhere in the city for 5 pesos, or $0.27 and shrinking thanks to the strength of the dollar. I had no idea.
I had intended to stay in Mexico City for a month to experience the culture and practice the language. I stayed in the worst hotel in the world. 3 days into it, there was a mass murder by a drug cartel just a couple blocks away. basically, they murdered pan-handlers for “dirtying up the city”, and left their bodies on the freeway median.
Anyway, I was just working away on my computer in my hotel room, when I had an epiphany: I was so bored and even disgusted. What did I come to Mexico City for again? I left my hotel room with all of my stuff and went to the bus station. I bought a bottle of tequila and I boarded the next bus leaving to anywhere. I ended up in a small town called Zacatlan. The town I beautiful, but I ended up just doing the same thing: sitting in my hotel room and working. I found a nice cafe this time and ended up working there, but I can do that at home. I really wasn’t getting it.
I found myself in Puebla when I was chatting with an old coworker who had heard about my Mexico trip. “Go to Puerto Escondido, it’s cool and super fun,” she wrote, “go to Hostel Akumal. The people are loads of fun.” I replied, “Hostel? You mean hotel?” I had no idea what I was doing, so I went directly to the bus station and bought my ticket.
I walked into the hostel: suitcase in hand, large backpack in the other had. It was way further than I thought it would be, and my bags were much bigger. You could almost see heat waves coming out of the door, the room was so hot and musky. Inside sat one haggard looking guy. I locked up my stuff and opened my computer while that guy slept for most of the day. When he woke up, we talked. He’s from Australia, I’m from the United States. I just came in from Puebla..he made his way from Chiapas.
We hit it off right away. We drank, we smoked, we met dozens of other really cool people, and I was hooked. The best part: I spent no more than $20 any single day in Puerto Escondido. I went back to Mexico City with a different mindset (thanks Caitlyn). I could have fun, experience new things, meet new people, and even go on vacation for a lot less money than I ever thought possible.
Before I left for Mexico, I was just beginning a web design business. That has since evolved in a number of ways. You can check it out here. I left a few more times while I was attending university. However, after a 2-month stint through Central America, something hit me: I wasn’t trying to travel on a budget necessarily. I wasn’t even really trying to make money while I was gone. I was just trying to have fun and keep my business going (on autopilot) in the process. But I compared my bank account at the beginning of the trip, to the same account at the end, and after having only been working about 10 hours/week, the account was actually bigger at the end of my vacation.
The sudden realization that I had subconsciously created a means of location-independence was absolutely liberating for lack of a better word. I want the Rogue Traveler to help you accomplish the same.
Why the word Rogue?
1. The literal definition: A person or animal who operates outside normal or desirable controls. I abide by respect and honor when necessary and conducive, but I pride myself on my ability to both resist superfluous control/restrictions and not care what other people think about me.
2. The term “rogue spy” is derivative of the literal definition above, but it’s more than that. A rogue spy is an all-around badass who does what’s necessary.
3. I come from a place called the Rogue Valley in Oregon. The valley is named after the Rogue Indians who lived in the area before white people got here. My blood is in no way native to the region, but I admire local Native Americans for their appreciation of the land, and the fight they put up to defend it.