Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkien
“Where are you from?”
My friends laugh when they hear somebody asking me this question, as it opens a Pandora’s box. My dad, mum and sister were born in 3 different countries (Italy, Morocco and France respectively, although my sister is now Australian and living in Switzerland). I grew up, studied, worked and lived in all the countries listed on this website, and keep traveling.
Why, how? I didn’t wake up one day with the idea of exploring the world… I was born that way. Wanderlust is genetic, it runs in the family. My father was a marine officer (then a geologist, because consistency also runs in the family), so I grew up following my parents in a variety of countries, in Africa, Asia and Europe.
Since my family is like a small United Nations, it was only natural for me to start working with the UN after graduating from university, and thus continuing my nomadic life. My first UN job was with FAO in Kenya, and after just one week I realized I was ready for retirement. My mind couldn’t compute the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 lifestyle. “Your lunchtime is at 1pm”, but hey I’m hungry at 12h?! “You have to dress up with a jacket and tie”, but hey it’s scorching hot outside?! “You have to be in the office at 9am”, but hey I jiggy-jiggyed until 2AM last night?
You know the axiom, “no work=no money”. So, I had no choice: I kept working, but with the clear intent of retiring at 40. I only applied for overpaid jobs, in the harshest environments possible, where skilled staff are hard to find, and the allowances are the highest. Fourth-world countries, civil war, terrorism, raped kids, hostages crisis, I’m all in! For example, I worked in Angola during the civil war, managing a project against trafficking in minors for sexual purposes. Then, other opportunities arose: “Would you like to monitor a similar project in Nigeria”? OK no problem! “Oh by the way could you also check out the situation in the Edo State, it’s not safe but we will provide an armed escort”? OK no problem! “Oops sorry no armed escort available but just go by yourself and we’ll discuss later”… OK no problem!
Despite earning a lot and saving like crazy (by living below my means), in my mid-30s I realized I would never save enough money to ensure financial independence at age 40. So, while managing a large SME fund in Ghana, I started studying the topic seriously. Not the theoretical BS taught by college professors, but real-life advice from streetwise gurus. I set up a digital library of about 3000 E-books, audio-books and videos on a variety of topics, mainly wealth building (business, real estate, trading etc.), but also general self-development (time management, goals settings etc.), health (fitness, nutrition etc.) and relationships (both for personal and business purposes). I started with speed reading and accelerated learning, and blasted my way through almost 2000 books in a 5-year period (the “Pareto” years). The wealth of information I learnt from these training materials was staggering! Who knew how to participate to real estate liens auctions? Buy structured ETF to benefit from bear markets without the limitations of short-selling? Legally establish personal residency in countries where foreign income is not taxed?
Upon retiring on 1st May 2013, at the ripe age of 39, I had already started the diversification process, mainly through online trading and real estate investments (vacation rentals, what else!), and the creation of multiple streams of passive income. This ultimately led to my ideal lifestyle, one which doesn’t require my presence.
I heard this one countless times, in all languages, in all countries. You’re crazy, tu es fou, sei matto, boang, điên, thing thong, loco!
Well yes, if being normal means living an unhappy life until finally retiring at age 70 and dying shortly thereafter, then I am crazy. Real madness for me has different meanings, for example spending your life in a 9-to-5 cubicle, doing things you don’t like with people you don’t want to meet; or, blowing yourself up in the name of a beardy ethereal entity.
When confronted with the “You’re crazy!” line, I reframe it as a compliment and graciously thank my interlocutors. What they were trying to say was “Your thinking is really different, we do not understand it yet but would certainly be grateful if you could teach us more about it, when we will be ready to learn”.
So beware, once you leave the beaten path, you will hear that line a lot, especially from the people who love you the most. They are just trying to protect you (and somewhat protect themselves, so if things go wrong they will be able to say “I TOLD YOU!”), as they are unaware of the fact that being “crazy” is a necessary requirement to achieve superior results: if you do what everybody else is doing, you will end up with their same unsatisfactory outcomes.
I realize there are easier paths to financial success, which do not require the “craziness” of working in war zones and studying thousands of books: many of you are certainly smarter than me, and might just develop an app from your parents’ comfy California villa, submit your idea to a venture capitalist living down the street and become an instant millionaire. That was not my case: I chose a hard road, who took many years of sustained effort, because I didn’t know any better. And I would do it all again: independently from the financial gains, the real benefit is the set of skills I learnt – something even more valuable than the money itself. And the end result of waking up in the morning whenever/wherever I want, and meeting whoever I want to do whatever I want, is absolutely PRICELESS.
Working in such “crazy” environments also allowed me to visit places normally inaccessible to normal tourists. It is true that traveling is not about discovering new destinations, but seeing with new eyes. It changes you, and allows you to live many different lives… from a white kid growing up in Africa, to real estate investor in the Caribbean, trekker in the Patagonian wilderness, “toy boy” in Shanghai, credit facility manager in Ghana, stock exchange trader in the US, writer/publisher of illusionism books in Canada, museum buff in Venice, disaster relief consultant in Pakistan, public speaker in Vietnam, radio show co-host in Italy, and, as I write this introduction, travel blogger in Thailand.
About the travel blog
So, the LifeTour travel blog. For each destination I lived in, I selected some of my best video clips and pictures (these were not meant to be showcased in a website, until recently all pictures and movies were only shared with family and friends). I then added my opinionated reviews.
I try to experience countries in an holistic manner, from local fauna to natural landscapes, historical sites and monuments, artistic exhibitions, culinary delights etc. The only exception would be nightlife: I don’t smoke, don’t drink and don’t do drugs, so don’t feel the need to go to noisy dark places selling overpriced drinks on weekend nights and “party” to forget about my weekdays. Instead, I strive to make my weekdays awesome.
For each destination, you will see some self-explanatory thumbs up / thumbs down ratings:
I separated the ratings for “Living” and “Visiting”, because it is very different to briefly visit a destination for sightseeing, and to actually live there! For example, the Salar de Ujuni is absolutely wonderful to explore, but living in that shanty desert town with no internet and no infrastructure is a no-no.
Here are some other icons you will encounter:
Must Avoid: Some places are just… bad. But your judgment will always depend on your previous experiences. For example, if you never saw the sea, the mere sight of a beach will amaze you – even if full of algae, stinky rubbish and hoards of Arab youngsters blasting loud music from their car stereos. Colin Farrell summarized this concept in the hilarious movie “In Bruges”: “If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me”.
Check out some of my worst travel experiences here.
Tourist Traps: in such commercial destinations, you will need to be aware of your surroundings, or be ready to shell out a lot of cash. Examples would be Venice and Machu Picchu.
Retarded Backpackers Awards: cheap, unusual destinations which attract backpackers, despite the lack of actual interest. Examples would be Ushuaia and Banos.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
“FAQ”, I love to say swear words with the excuse of saying something else, and without having to fake the La Tourette syndrome: for example, my favorite animals are seals (translated in French, “phoque”, pronounced “fok”). So many hilarious possibilities while trekking in Tierra del Fuego! “This seal is so big, it’s a fat phoque”, or “this seal seems unhealthy, it’s a sick phoque”…
Thanks for your interest! I am unable to meet you in person, but if you have questions or comments please post them below or in the relevant sections.
You have amazing communication skills, and a bright future ahead. This said, see answer above.
(Oh well, you might want to send me a message while you’re at it)
I don’t have a permanent home. I don’t have a car either. Not even a bike, TV, or any unnecessary “stuff”: Everything must fit in my luggage. I control many properties, though (“Own nothing, control everything” – Nelson Rockefeller)
This answer changes every 3 months, subscribe to my mailing list for updates. I generally tend to stay in areas that I already know and appreciate (mainly in South-East Asia), and occasionally try a new country.
Coming from a Christian family, with mainly Muslim friends, Jewish business partners, Buddhist girlfriends, and Voodoo neighbors, I respect all beliefs. But I am a spiritual being, therefore allergic to religion.
I am also allergic to politics. And sea food.
Yes, unless I am in a relationship.
Nope. Just to give you an idea of how I feel about phones, in 2015 I crossed the entire South American continent, from the Caribbean to the Cap Horn, without a phone.
Once this travel blog is completed, I will return to my older passions: magic/NLP, and music. And I will keep traveling of course!
I love food from South-East Asia, but probably Nutella would come above everything else. And young, freshly-cut sugar cane. Consume in moderation!
I haven’t watched TV in the past 10 years.
I do like movies. Too many to mention, but some of my favorite directors are Werner Herzog, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick, the Cohen brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Andrei Tarkovsky, Terry Gilliam…
I am a big fan of alternative music, you can get a taste of what I like by listening to the soundtracks of my videos.
Some of my favorite labels are 4AD, Clairecords, Hyperium, Prikosnovenie… Some of my favorite albums include Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, Spiderland by Slint, The Dream of a Modern Day by Mahogany, Orange Blossom’s first album (self-titled), Forever by The Cranes, TV Sky by The Young Gods, Burn and Shiver by Azure Ray, 5 ways of disappearing by Kendra Smith… And so many more authors: Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Mojave3), Cocteau twins, Sylvan Esso, Die Antword… Even “commercial” music such as Joy Division (Closer), Enya (Shepherd Moons), Depeche Mode (Music for the Masses, Violator), Primal Scream (Exterminator), The Prodigy (Music for the Jilted Generation), Aphex Twin (Selected Ambient Works), Elliott smith (Either/Or)… I could fill an entire website on the music topic: songs create a life soundtrack.
Football! A.k.a. “soccer”, for US readers. I used to play a lot, until my knees and ankles told me to relax and just go to the gym.
This is a great question! I hinted at the creation of multiple streams of passive income in the paragraphs above – check out the Resources section for more details.
I apply strict time management rules… No TV, no phone calls, no social medias. I layer multiple activities (for example listening to training audio books while driving or exercising). And I outsource everything I can.
Not for the time being. All pictures, movies and texts are my own.
It depends, please contact us with details.
Yes, but please make sure to keep the Lifetour watermark, and insert a link to Lifetour.net from each item you copy. Contact us if you need high-resolution pictures.
No, it is too time consuming. I first planned to translate a summary in French but then, as Samuel Beckett wrote, “Le français a un effet affaiblissant”… We did however insert an automatic translation button at the top-right corner of each page: the translation sucks but it is better than nothing.
You are a bit creepy, and it is time to stop this Q&A session, but thanks for asking. Let’s write “Been everywhere, done everything”. And perhaps add a footnote: “Don’t you have anything better to do than staring at my tomb?”
Feel free to add any questions, comments and suggestions on the comment form below (in any language). Are you “crazy” as well? What is your personal experience? How do you finance your trips?