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Sell everything you own, and buy experiences

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Take this as prescription or take it for what it is, either way, selling everything and using the proceeds to buy experiences, can’t be such a bad idea. I had done exactly this to follow my passion; sold the complication brought by needless possessions, and invested my entire focus in new experiences, and more specifically, to become an adventure travel writer.

Not everyone needs to go somewhere of course, but then not everyone decides they want to explore the world for a living.

Irish blogger

Irish Blogger, Derek Cullen

Seven weeks in Northern Thailand

Seven weeks writing furiously in a box room, ninety eight meetings with the same street vendors, another forty nine bowls of 2-minute noodles for breakfast; I had seen very little in Northern Thailand, but it was only the beginning, and I was about to learn the full extent of why I choose the uncertain terms of this digital nomad lifestyle.

Half light was filling the room, and it was time to start writing again for small money, except the feeling of content which accompanied most mornings, was suddenly absent. I had been happy in Chiang Mai, but the sleepy nature of the street outside was having a stagnating effect. It showed in my writing, there was nothing creative about the words anymore, I always know it’s time to leave when the writing stops.

Tuk tuk thailand

The art of moving

Moving is not something most people associate with obsession. In fact, even just thinking about the very process of moving seems too simple to be any more than mandatory, redundant or irrelevant. Not for me, it is my obsession, and often, it is all that matters.

Moving forward, enabled me to dismantle a lifetime worth of anxiety on my Africa bicycle tour. Moving on, allowed me to forgive myself for all the mistakes I had made in the past. Moving, is the simple process that illuminates my emotions, and turns my deepest insecurities into something I do for a living – writing.

When I feel like I can’t go on, I keep moving, when someone lets me down, I move on, when something needs changing, I move. I am obsessed with moving, travel, adventure and the fleeting moments of happiness they promise to bring forward.

Buy experiences

Buying experience

With my entire world in a backpack, I leave the stagnant side street outside my apartment behind, and another mysterious story with the cleaning ladies. The tourist who never left his room. The driver seems impatient as our tuk-tuk is swallowed up in the chaos of the main road, but we reach the station, where I sit on top of my few worldly possessions, and wait. I wonder where to go, but then the next train only has one destination.

Another day, another adventure, and a surge of excitement as the train pulls into the station. What an incredible notion; that I can write on a sleeper train, and wake the next morning in a new home, in another strange part of the world.

Sitting in the murky restaurant carriage, unfamiliar faces stop and then pass, each of them searching for a toilet, coffee, family or peace. Across the table, a small boy is lost within a scrapbook, his eyes so fixed on the paper that he doesn’t notice my rude stares; jotting down the nights takings, he appears to finish counting and then start again, unsure of something he missed.

As we journey deeper into the jungle interior of Thailand, an old man with a worn tattered jacket sits opposite in the last remaining seat. An army officer, a young waiter, a gentle old man and a strange species from the western world are now sitting at the same table. As moonlight flickers on the branches outside the window, I am a million miles from my family, yet I never feel so at home as when I am moving in search of new experiences. I am shaking off the shackles of the modern world and basking in the feeling of freedom that comes with having no possessions, no ties, and no obligations.

It’s 4am as I write in my journal; I never want this adventure to end.

Thailand train

Small jobs for big experiences

Very little in life can compare to the excitement of going somewhere new, but exactly nothing compares to the freedom I have to do so at any moment. My nomadic lifestyle is lonely, and it brings no financial status, but it holds my interest, even on the bad days. I never want to lose this feeling, to stop travelling into the unknown, or stop choosing to leave comfort behind, and risk it all for this life I love so madly.

I had worked hard for seven weeks to allow this lifestyle to continue, to have this priceless amount of freedom, to reignite the fuse of adventure and wind up in a new country, looking up at this sublime and majestic wonder of the world.

These are the moments that make all the risk worthwhile, and this is exactly why I choose to live this way. With no possessions and no distraction, I don’t care for the important titles anymore, I spent too long working for the man with no real personal gain. Now nothing of material can define who I am, for there are no labels at all; I am just an average guy with a simple plan, a nomad who will work hard at small jobs, for small money, and then use it to buy these big experiences.

Angkor wat temple cambodia

Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia


I'm an Outdoor Adventure Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 I began riding a bicycle across Africa and it was during this adventure when I discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the general uncertainty of life on the road. Next April, I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.


  1. Joe

    March 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Inspiring stuff Derek. It’s true that, ultimately, a slavish desire for material things that we arguably don’t really need that keeps us locked in a routine that keeps travelling full time at arms length. It’s all about bravely taking that first step and letting go…

    • Derek Cullen

      March 17, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Thanks for the comment Joe, I completely agree! Derek

  2. Edwina

    March 23, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I’m calling it “experience rich” vs. “material rich”: It’s the experiences in life that make me feel rich, and it doesn’t matter whether they are far away from home or just around the corner. And a rich experience can be both a stay in a luxury hotel or a free walk on the beach. With that in mind, I aim to become really rich! Experience rich.
    Edwina recently posted…Belmond La Residence Phou Vao: A Standout Luxury Haven Amongst Luang Prabang HotelsMy Profile

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