Interview with David Weeks, of www.ThisCowboyTravels.com
Visit his Instagram site at www.Instagram.com/ThisCowboyTravels
Who is David Weeks, of This Cowboy Travels?
David Weeks, a real estate investor and business owner who lives in Northwest Florida, discovered his love for traveling when he visited South America a few years ago.
“I had a friend who visited South America, met a girl, and fell in love, and moved there. He kept telling me that I had to visit South America. For the beautiful girls and for the beautiful country,” says David. “I went and everything he said was true. Now, I travel on a regular basis.”
Was there a turning point in your life that inspired you to start traveling? If so, tell me about it.
Yes…I have been traveling for the past 12 years and had become more and more comfortable with it. But the true catalyst to me moving to a position of making it more of a lifestyle was a divorce. The thought of staying in the same setting was getting under my skin and since it was only me now, I felt I could really get out there and truly explore.
Can you tell me, in detail, what your life was like before you reached that point?
Real Life like most of us…fighting to make money to buy things I didn’t need to impress people I didn’t know or didn’t like. I have many businesses and am “successful” in some regards, but just not fulfilled. Money is necessary but is no longer my focus. I focus on my continued growth spiritually, mentally and physically.
Do you travel alone or with a partner? If alone, what are the pros and cons? If with a partner, what are the pros and cons? Which do you prefer? Why?
All my traveling has been with a partner up until this point. It was great having someone to share things with and to discover. Lili (my ex) was also from Brazil making communication in Latin countries much easier. That being said, I am currently in Medellín, Columbia flying solo. I make less plans now and just explore with a moments notice. I’m no longer worried about safety as much and spend more time meeting and greeting people. Being in sales since my teens, I have a natural gift for gab and rarely feel nervous or reserved. I chat with everyone😊.
When traveling for extensive periods of time, what sort of things do you miss about the conventional life? (For example, hot water, internet, NetFlix, coffee, etc)
This may sound crazy, but very little. Yes I love my clothes hung up and neat. And miss time with my children, but I adapt quickly. Not having hot water sucks, but there is nothing more invigorating than a cold shower. I’m sure Netflix will have the same movies I’m missing when I do go back home plus some more. I always travel with my protein shakes in case I’m not digging certain foods or just want to avoid late night jaunts in an unfamiliar place. If your very picky about small things, you may want to rethink this travel lifestyle or just be prepared to “ADAPT”.
Now that you’ve traveled to so many places over the years, when you return to your hometown or a hometown kind of place for 6 months or more, do you feel that “you can’t relate to normal people”?
I have to admit it takes time to get back in the flow of things. But, the pressures of Real Life always find a way to harden us back off. Then, as soon as I start flowing again, I’m ready to pack up for another adventure.
How did traveling shape your views and change your perspective of people who lead conventional lives? Those who work 9-5 jobs, stay in the same place, hang with the same friends, etc?
I have a true respect for those that are comfortable with a 9-5 schedule. And I believe that if your soul is complete in those routines, by all means, keep it up. That being said, it has never been high on my priority list.
I moved around a lot as a kid and always have the need for change. I get very bored with mundane conversation and systematic schedules.
I love being around people I do not understand, which makes me constantly strive for growth. Those that know me, know I always have something to add and and can very seldom hold my tongue. That changes when I am in a different country where I am not understood as well. It may sound crazy, but just the art of “Being” is where my focus is now.
What are your thoughts, and please be honest, about the “travel and lifestyle bloggers” and “travel and lifestyle influencers” on Instagram who are posting seemingly perfectly curated pictures of meals, fancy hotel rooftop swimming pools, luxury cars, private jets, expensive hotel lobbies, etc?
I love this question.
As I build my social accounts, I am constantly torn between picture perfect and down and dirty factual posts. Unfortunately, many of the social accounts with huge followings only push for pretty opposed to informational. Yes, we all love pretty, but i really want those that follow my feeds to feel what I am feeling, taste what I’m tasting and smell what I am smelling.
The prettiest person in the room may get all of the first looks, but its the human connections made that spark our interests and long term attraction. When I decide what I want to post, I remember the Wendys lady yelling, “Where’s the beef”?
Do you make money while traveling? If so, how do you accomplish this? How do you afford to travel?
I am constantly working on promotions, marketing, connections and ideas. Fortunately, I have a small income stream from investments that help with basic needs, but the possibilities are endless as a freelancer. Not wanting to spill the beans now, but I have some “How to guides” coming soon that may help others who wish to pursue this lifestyle.
What are your experiences traveling alone as a man? Are people generally friendly or do they regard you with suspicion?
As a man I feel blessed. I know if I was a woman, I would probably be a lot more hesitant to go to some of the places that I go now without a second thought. Now, I don’t want to scare off the would be lady travelers, but just like anywhere, pay attention around you and think a lot. As far as others perceptions, I feel all different kinds of energy, just like anywhere I guess. I really just try to use common sense and just try to be friendly and polite.
How do you stay healthy when traveling? Generally speaking, do you lose weight, keep your average weight, or gain weight while you are traveling? (When we traveled in France, in one of our accommodations with our WWOOF hosts, we gained weight because of all the bread we were eating. LOL. At another place, we lost weight due to the manual labor and meager food rations. LOL.)
I actually gain a little weight each time I travel. I am in Medellín, Colombia as we speak and with all of the easy to get cheese bread, fruit and empanadas, weight comes quick. I am actually walking many miles a day and still manage to put on a little weight.
If I lived here longer, I would be a little more disciplined. Food exploration is always a travel perk, so just be prepared for a few extra pounds. I practice yoga, go to the gym and walk lots.
Before you leave for your long-distance travels, do you have a daily budget allowance? If so, what is it? Since you are pro-budget travelers (ProBu Travelers), do you usually stay within that budget?
As I travel more frequently, I find that I am becoming more money conscious. I know that if you want to get down and dirty, $10-20 per day it is possible. I find that my personal budget runs closer to $30 per day. It has to do with your level of comfort more than anything. At 50 years old, I prefer a little more quietness, my own bathroom and food that I want. I know that if I was back in my 20’s I would be just fine with a down and dirty budget.
How do you handle your business while traveling?
Running my businesses back home and traveling for life no periods of time is tough. Lots of things get dropped and fall through the cracks. That being said, each time I return home I work harder on designing systems that work while I’m away. With WhatsApp, Skype and calls through Mac devices make connecting very easy. I will respond to calls, texts and emails just like I’m still in the US. I will then pass it off to someone who can handle it. I know I lose business when I’m on the road, but, life goes on and I’m doing what I love to do. I can’t really state a best and a worst, just that I am constantly working to get better with all business relations.
What’s the worst experience you’ve had while traveling?
The worst experience was once I was in Brazil and I ended up in a boat in the Amazon with a couple of rough fellas. I was with my wife at the time and it was by far an event that shook me. Nothing happened, but a gun was involved and I was very thankful when we hit a crowd of people and were able to get ashore.
What’s the best experience you’ve had while traveling?
The best experience was by far meeting my wife in the Amazon jungle one evening while she was on a teaching project in a small town. Even though we have chosen different paths, it lead to a wonderful romance that would easily be a best seller on a book list. Maybe that’s another thing for my to do list.
What are your favorite things about traveling?
Since I’m rolling solo now, I’ll skip the comparison, but love the thought of seeing my a partners perception. As far as myself, I love the new experiences, foods, and all of the interesting people I meet. I’m the guy that knocks on your door if your having a party to introduce myself. I love the challenge of doing things most people want do. It may end up crazy sometimes, but usually has a totally unexpected outcome. Oh I could tell you the stories.😮😊
Do you have a favorite country? Do you have favorite countries?
Ecuador was at the top of my list for many years, but Colombia has just captured my heart. Australia, Peru, Mexico, Canada and of course Brazil all have wonderful sights and people. There is so much that we are ignorant of in the US about the beauty of the rest of the world and the ease of exploring. Traveling will open your eyes, so be prepare to be amazed.
What countries do you intend to visit in the future?
Ecuador is back on the list for July with India to follow.
Does travel ever start to feel repetitive and exhausting? If so, what do you do to overcome these feelings?
It’s great to pack the bags and go, but I always love to come home too. It’s a constant rubber band effect that keeps me growing, longing and learning. There will always be bad and good days wherever you are in the world. Just embrace both knowing that this too shall pass. Get out of your head and be in the moment. My yoga practice is helping me with this immensely. Between stretching, meditation and constant growth, it has been a journey that I only recently started and one I can not see myself living without. Namaste
Do you get a lot of travel gear mailed to you, like backpacks, shoes, electronic items, for you to review?
No…I have not received any monetary value from my traveling, but have only recently started to build a tribe. I have also started to promote local favorite spots on my journey and know that if I “Build it, they will come”.
When you cross the border into another country, do you have to get vaccinations? Vaccinations, with their combination of mercury and thimerosal are known to be toxic and dangerous. How do you deal with this?
Making sure tetanus shots are current is the primary one that you must do. The others, like malaria, etc. are all things you just need to look at all of the pros and cons and decide on your own. You must however, plan on taking an anti-parasite medication when traveling through any third world location. This is also best addressed in the country you are traveling in. Most meds for this can be obtained for only a couple of dollars. Black walnut, wormwood and grape seeds are all things that will help if you choose a natural course. I have a Giardia story that really popped me when I first started traveling that keeps me in check now.
Oh yeah, don’t eat salads. They are difficult to clean and the water they use is not great in many locations. Only drink bottled drinks and wash all foods and fruit first. Always choose well cooked meats to raw ones. Those are the basics.
What is in your backpack?
I always have plenty of underwear. I can wear the heck out of shirts and shorts, but not the unders. I have to have my shake mix and of course all of my electronic cords, chargers and JBK Bluetooth speakers. I only use an iPad Pro, and you gotta have a phone. I am also constantly throwing snack bars, fruits and nuts into my bag. A jacket, cap and flip flops are always must haves. Watch the weather often on weather apps so you can plan accordingly. Major temperature swings are very common in many locations.
What was in your backpack when you first started traveling? What is in your backpack now that you have your current travel experience?
Ha Ha Ha..
I used to take multiple suitcase. All contingencies were met, and I was miserable. Remember, there is always some place to wash your clothes. 7-8 under garments, 5-7 shirts, 3-4 shorts, 1-2 pair of jeans and a bathing suit are all the primary clothes I take now. I used to get so frustrated after toting big bags for weeks only to come back home having not used a third to half of the stuff. If in doubt, leave it out.
When you travel, where do you stay? Hotels, hostels, WWOOF accommodations (wwoof.net), CouchSurfing accommodations (CouchSurfing.com), or other ways? Which do you recommend? Why?
Hotels and Airbnb are my first choices. $10-$20 daily is an easy daily budget lodging budget to hit for many locations. On a tighter budget? I would look hard at the hostels as a decent option. The one thing I always suggest is to not ever book entire stays before you arrive. Maybe a night or two is good, but you are sure to find a better priced place with a better location once you arrive. Don’t worry, you’ll find something. Just stay the first night or two in you booked place and then go hunting early the next day.
I need to also checkout your suggestions above for more options Kris.
Do you know how to speak other languages besides English? Are you learning any other languages?
I’m only fluent in English, but seldom feel left out. I survive nicely in Brazil with my basic Portuguese and in other Latin countries with my Spanish. You will learn the names of foods, where to go to the bathroom and general greetings very quickly.
The longer you stay at a location, the more you will be able to converse with the locals. But remember, don’t talk more than you need to just to be heard. Just looking and talking differently, you will attract attention.
Many times you will find this attention to be unnecessary and even unwanted. If you are with locals, let them negotiate and handle most basic questions when dealing with businesses, etc. Remember, the price goes up as soon as you open your mouth. Your a gringo and are rich, HaHaHa.
P.S. Google Translate is wonderful. Make sure you download the files in the app for offline translations.
For both of you, how did you go about eliminating your possessions to go minimalism to travel? Was there a method? If so, what was it? What is your advice to eliminate extra stuff in order to travel abroad like you both do?
I am currently renting out my home and am storing some things that are important in storage. I would never suggest dumping everything, since one day I may be too old or sick not to have a permanent place to lay my head. Who know where I may need up in 10 years. If you are younger and do not have much, Go Go Go. If I could go back in time, I would have saved money after high school and would have walked across Europe or South America.
What’s the best advice you have for someone who wants to travel, who is hungry for adventure, but is scared and afraid, since so much of the TV and internet news broadcasts fear-based journalism about the dangers of other countries?
It’s never as bad as its made out to be in the press. Just use your head and read as much as possible from fellow bloggers about your planned destination. Find groups in areas that you like where you can meet like minded people. This will help learning more about an area and will help with making connections. Remember, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Blend in and welcome change. Always have a plan B exit strategy.
David, if you could have any 3 superpowers, what would they be and why, and how would you use them?
Do you ever get depressed or unhappy while traveling? If so, what do you do to feel better?
We all have our days. Yoga is my refuge. I also read, walk and exercise.
Are either of you religious? Did you grow up in religious households? If so, did that shape your life or perspective in any way?
Yes, and I am a Christian and always have faith and a devotion to a higher power. You will also find that most areas in South and Central America are very religious and are good people just as I try to be.
How do your parents feel about your travel lifestyle? How do your friends who live in the States feel about your traveling? How has traveling shaped your view of your conventional friends? Your view of the world?
Parents are an issue, but many people tell me they think its neat that I travel. The problem is most people will never do it. The fear of the unknown is a very big hurdle to many people. It’s usually more of an insecure feeling about being in a different place with different people and different foods more than anything. It’s really not that hard and very liberating once you dive in. So, dive in!
When your parents were your age, were they traveling, like you were? Do you feel you got the travel “DNA” or “gene” from them?
I am a first generation traveler for sure. My parents had that 1 or 2 Trips of a lifetime, but for the most part are just simple folks. I have traveled more in the last year than most of my family added together over their lifetimes.
For someone who says “I want to travel but, I have no (money, time, one to go with, don’t know how) … “ what is your advice for them?
Start saving something so you can get your feet wet. I am sure there are cheaper ways to travel than I do, but you need some funds. I am a big believer of Guru, Fiverr, Etsy, etc. to help you earn while traveling. Being broke at home sucks, but it’s really bad if your on the road. Build a skill that you can use while traveling so you can earn something. Study the travel blogs out there and just do it.
Do you see yourself traveling in 10 years? Where do you see yourself in 40 years? Is that something you think about?
Oh yes. I have so much I want to see. Europe will be high on the list in 2019, and then I will start running years as some place new and some place I love.
Any last words of advice or thoughts that you would like to leave with people reading this?
Get your passport now which is by far the first step. Next, read and study a location until you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Befriend groups, people and businesses in an area so you can make a few contacts before you go so you have a purpose. Going and hanging out can be fun, but its great to have some plans and meet ups.
Stop contemplating and planning and just do it.
Stop looking at traveling as a big thing, it’s not. We all have pissed away $400-500 on a weekend of food, gas and Walmart shopping. With that amount of money, you can jump on a plane in the morning and be eating lunch overlooking the ocean in Peru on a hillside. Stop contemplating and planning and just do it.
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