Adventure Travel – A Life on the Road

João Leitão
Updated on July 4, 2018


Yes, while in search of destinations one may find those places that do not actually exist. I’ve traveled to the de-facto country of Transnistria (Pridnestrovia), and spent a few days in Tiraspol. Filling anonymous voids with experiences while committing them to memory, these places then take on another life. Now, I can say they definitely do exist.

Then, there are the other nonexistent places between destinations, the interstitial and transitory “places”. Lived during moments when we may be recollecting where we just were while foreshadowing what is soon to arrive, these unnamed territories can also be the most memorable. I’ve experienced three one-month train journeys across Europe. On the road, I’ve passed 15 days driving in Iceland along the Ring Road and Westfjords, then driving solo through Afghanistan followed by a 14,000 km. (8,700 mi.) road trip through South America, across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Next, I took a 4,383 km. (2,723 mi.) Russia road trip, driving 20 days throughout the bitter cold month of February, and an equally cold yet fascinating two-week Antarctic expedition to its Circle. En route, I’ve even found myself becoming a member of an 18-man local convoy enduring a 22-hour trip in northern Mali, from Gao to Timbuktu, perched atop a pick-up truck’s cargo. By water, I found a cheap last-minute Galapagos cruise in Puerto Ayora, later also passing 550 hours crossing the Amazon River by boat and while sleeping in a hammock for several months. The means are endless!

While traveling, I’ve learned it to be imperative to keep an open mind, to be prepared for and even embrace the unexpected as these experiences can offer invaluable life lessons. Following such a belief has led me to live six months in Istanbul, then another half-year in Lviv, Ukraine. I once stumbled upon Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech, finding it one of the craziest and most delightful places in the world! Putting stigma aside, I even rerouted to visit North Korea and, quite unexpectedly, ended up liking it a lot! Another day, I found myself taking bread baking classes in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Sure, why not?

Yes, there can be downfalls to the Traveler’s rhythm, even danger. Precautionary measures must be readily accessible, and consciously aware, at all times and in places-unknown. I’ve had guns aimed at me in Mauritania, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Mali while, because of several travel-related misunderstandings, I’ve been detained by police in South Sudan, Spain, Mauritania, Barbados, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monaco, Uzbekistan, Germany, Nagorno-Karabakh, Lithuania and Russia. I’ve even been afflicted with malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo, taking 8 months to fully recover. Conversely, there are times when the experience obtained by setting aside one’s own fear is beyond rewarding. I can now say I’ve traversed the infamous Chernobyl Dead Zone, where the worst nuclear disaster in mankind’s history took place and departed unharmed.

So, why travel as a way of living, if for even a short while, and not just take a holiday?

My answer is this:

Life is made of moments and the World is out there full of precious and unique adventures waiting for us.

In this way, you are incorporating the world into your own life and your life into the world while becoming a part of it and its global society, not only seeing it through a protective (or pixilated) glass window. Wherever you may find yourself along with your journey, aspects of life usually put on hold for a vacation remain, or return, as they are already a part of you. Attributes such as work, spirituality, education, friendship and even family resurface because they are human, existential needs and will somehow need to travel with you.

Feeding Wild hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia - Travel Blog

Feeding wild hyenas in Ethiopia

We all carry our beliefs with us, the extent of our knowledge and opinions of people and the world. Whether discovered in a group, partaking in others’ rituals or finding one’s self alone in a moment of quietude after scaling a mountain, travel can truly reinforce and challenge our convictions greater than any experience. Alone, I’ve camped in the Kazakhstan mountains’ wilderness and even lived like a monk in a Nepalese Buddhist monastery. One of the best travel experiences I can recall was attending an authentic Amazigh triple-marriage in the Sahara Desert. Then, the unexpected reward can occur, like a century-old, evening ritual concluding by feeding hyenas in Ethiopia.

Of course, necessity sometimes brought about periods when pausing to work was imperative. Or, was it really a pause? I’ve worked on a farm in upstate New York, spent countless hours in six months compiling a list of 2300 travel blogs, then making it available online.

The result? A growing list of notices and awards for the work, finding unexpected places while in search of work-driven answers, even arriving just-in-time to be the first travel blogger to enter the new country of South Sudan! Then, having the ability to reach out to you and share such advice and incredible stories as these – stimulating movement, awareness, and inspiration on a global scale.

In summation, the most important aspect of travel, of Adventure, is that it is mind-expanding, offering free life lessons and a lasting education. I remember New York, attending photography classes with world famous photographer Steve McCurry, then taking part in a student exchange art program at SAMK (Satakunnan ammattikorkeakoulu) while living half a year in Finland. Among so many others, these opportunities prepared me for an unforgettable experience as a volunteer in Almaty, South Kazakhstan, where I was responsible for teaching self-expression through plastic arts, to 30 eager children. All of my personal studies, observations and experiences resulted in the ultimate exchange – moments when I can give back, seeing others’ same smiles I had when I began my journey, half a lifetime ago.

Stats On the Road

Traveling since 1999

United Nations countries
UNESCO World Heritage sites
Airplane flights
Non-recognized countries

Wish list

Sudan, Lebanon, Belarus, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi
Madagascar, Mongolia, Japan, Algeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso
Ghana, Somalia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Yemen, Niger.

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The Author of this Blog

HI! I'm João Leitão. Traveling independently since 1999, I explored more than 130 countries and territories in Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North & South America and Oceania. Welcome to my adventure travel blog, where I gathered useful information and inspiring narratives to motivate you to travel more. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest e YouTube.

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