It takes a lot to leave your comfort zone to be a Digital Nomad. Whether it’s for two months, eight months, a year or four years, it can be hard to take the leap. Some people I’ve met during my travels have been nomads for years, months or just have one week under their belt. They’ve made a commitment to live outside their comfort zone and abandon the status quo, each for their own reason.
While living in Chiang Mai, Thailand I met Pat, a nomad making money through his graphic design business. I knew he was living in Chiang Mai working in co-working spaces, but then I discovered he hitchhiked across the U.S and documented the whole thing.
I had to know more.
During my down time I binge watched his TrueTransient YouTube videos. I admired his courage to hitchhike, even though he didn’t need to. He owned a car, but sold it to start his travel adventure. His journey was about getting from one side of America to the other with the help of strangers. Starting in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, Pat gave himself 43 days to hitch rides to San Francisco, California.
His journey didn’t stop there. He then went on to WOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Hawaii and now is traveling around Southeast Asia currently stationed in Hanoi. He’s been making videos about living the life you want to live and it’s made me realize that the people with whom you surround yourself, either physically or via the web, can drastically change your attitude about life, your hustle mode and eventually increase the commas in your bank account.
Here’s what Pat has to say about his presence in the universe.
Do you identify yourself as a millennial and why?
I truly value the ability to be dynamic ‐ the ability to adapt your skills to different situations in a creative way. Therefore, I tend to shy away from labels. I barely even like to call myself a Graphic Designer because I know that is essentially putting myself in a box and self‐limiting my abilities. Oddly enough this is a common conviction among most “Millennials.” So I guess you could say I fit within that mold, but I do believe that if my parents were born in the year I was they would be of a similar mindset, it’s just a matter of circumstance.
You hitchhiked across the US. Besides having to rely on people picking you up what was the best and worst part of your adventure?
Relying on people to pick me up was the best part of the adventure. In Western society, we value individualism and independence, which leads to extremes like isolation and distrust in others. To truly rely on someone else, a random stranger even, is something the majority of Westerners have strong opinions against. The fact is, people haven’t gotten more violent, it’s the safest time to live and the only thing that has changed is our perception of others due to the increasingly stronger influence of pop culture and media in Western culture. There were no negative experiences for me during this journey. I knew that the hours I had to wait in the hot sun would end up paying off and the countless drivers who gave me clueless or dirty looks while passing would make the ride I got even better. Anyone who engages in any form of open‐ended adventure will either enter the journey with this mindset, quit, or learn it by the end of it.
What was the defining moment that made you want to go hitchhiking?
I was driving to the beach in the Summer of 2013, alone in my car with my surfboard in the backseat. There was a man walking along the side of the road with a cardboard sign on his backpack that read “SOUTH.” I weighed my options, said“Fuck it” out loud to myself and made a U‐turn. I remember turning on the audio recording option on my iPhone, I didn’t want to miss any bit of the conversation I was about to have. I was so curious as to why this person was doing this. After picking the man up, (his name was Jarret and he was 25 years old) I drove him 30 miles to the highway, we had a pleasant conversation consisting mainly of me asking him questions regarding hitchhiking. What I found out was that this man had hitchhiked from Canada to Florida within a month. That was the moment my perception of hitchhiking changed. It became an adventurous and viable form of travel rather than something a homeless person did. Six months after picking Jarret up I embarked on my first hitchhiking trip.
Would you do it again? // Have you been doing it around Asia?
I haven’t hitchhiked in Asia due to my focus being shifted. I basically came out here to put work in and learn from others. I feel that I got a lot of my adventure fix when I crossed the states, my cup was overflowing. However, I do know that further down the road I will most definitely want to replenish the adventure that spills out over time. If that is in the form of another hitchhiking trip, I definitely won’t fight the urge to throw my thumb out on the highway.
What are the differences between the people you’ve encountered in the US vs. people you’ve encountered outside of America?
Americans are rich in comfort. As much as we are told we should be ashamed by these comforts, I value them highly and feel fortunate that I was raised in a place where I at least had these options available. These are small comforts that add up to something big: Good customer service, relatively clean air quality, flavorful and endless food options, the ability to flush toilet paper down the toilet, etc. At a certain point we can be a bit too entitled to these things, so I think it is necessary to go to places where these comforts aren’t offered to us. If you don’t see the other side of things, you will take what you have for granted. Other than these subtle differences in entitlement, I see no gap in what an American wants versus what someone from say Southeast Asia truly wants out of life.
By being a traveler/digital nomad what do you feel like you miss out on in life, if anything?
The Digital Nomad scene is so unique in the fact that many of it’s practitioners are so vocal and have such a large presence online. The positive aspects of being a Digital Nomad are posted all over the internet by Digital Nomads. This can be misleading, as there are definitely pros AND cons to this lifestyle, like any other. I find myself craving steady friendship. Deeper connections that last longer than a few weeks or months. There are lonely moments for sure, but these are blessings I disguise. You truly learn who you are after doing this solo for a while. I probably won’t choose to live this lifestyle for the long‐term, instead inject aspects of it into my own life as I move further on.
What is the craziest moment of your travels so far?
I had a smoky exhaust leak in one of my dorm rooms in Central Laos a few weeks ago actually. I was totally clueless of it at first, because it was only leaking into my room at night as I slept. At first, I developed symptoms of Dengue Fever, so I wrote it off as such and figured I just got bit by the wrong mosquito. I noticed though, that these symptoms (muscle aches, headaches, exhaustion) were only prevalent in the nighttime. I got up one night and smelled a thick aroma of smoke. I opened my bathroom door to find the room veiled in a thick fog of smoke leaking through the ceiling. The intake pipe that was sucking up all the smoke from cooking in the kitchen was directly linked into my room. Don’t stay in Phousi Guesthouse in Luang Prabang, Laos. There’s also the countless stories from hitchhiking across the USA. From a driver smoking crack as we entered the highway to getting a pedicure with a marijuana dispensary owner in an Oregon mall. I am currently writing a book detailing this journey across the USA.
Do you have a life motto or quote you live by?
Burn the boats. There are legends from ancient seafaring times telling of captains who ordered their crew to burn the boats they rode in on after reaching the shores of hostile lands. This meant the men would either have to conquer or be conquered, there was no retreat at that point. This may be seen as a drastic approach to life, but it seems as if this is going to be it for us. This is our chance to make something out of this life and if you really value this opportunity, you are going to burn the boats as well.
Get to know Pat more by checking out his YouTube Videos here or scroll through his website here. If you’d like to be notified when his book about his hitchhiking is for sale click here! *All images used in this post are credited to Pat Daley*