Who doesn’t fantasize about quitting their job and travelling the world? While many of us simply allow ourselves to daydream, Daniel Baylis turned his dream of world travel into a reality. He saved his pennies, left his job, and took off on an ambitious adventure: a yearlong, six-continent expedition to explore volunteerism and community involvement. He spent a month in one of 12 countries, taking the opportunity to volunteer with a local project and get to know the people he encountered.
As he describes it, his travel adventure was “an imperfect journey.” But he lived to tell the story, and for the good of all of us, he documented his travels in a self-published book, appropriately titled, The Traveller. IAYB has three copies of the book (digital or hard copy) to give away to three lucky readers. All you have to do is answer this skill-testing question: If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?
Answer in the comments section below before 8pm EST Friday, March 21 to enter. Three names will be drawn at random and contacted by email. (NOTE: the email addresses of all entrants will be added to the IAYB and Daniel Baylis’ mailing lists. If you’d rather not be added to the lists, write OPT OUT at the end of your comment.)
Baylis also answered questions about his adventures, his yoga practice, and his future plans.
What made you decide to quit your job and leave your comfortable life in Montreal to travel around the world?
To a certain degree I felt conscripted to do this trip. However, instead of the ruling voice coming externally (such as the government or army), it was a calling that came internally. I realize that might sound completely hokey — I’ve already accused myself of it! — but there was a sense of inevitable inscription for a large journey. It was like if I didn’t do the trip I’d always be wondering if I could have or should have. Finally, it got to the point where that calling became loud enough that the only way to silence it was to respond to it.
So in January of 2011, I set off for an around the world trip and was fortunate to sustain myself on the road (financially, physically, spiritually) for an entire year.
When I look back over my year of travel, it’s peppered with many minor lessons: how to make a stellar Peruvian ceviche, how to milk a goat, how to tile a bathroom floor, how to ride a motorbike. The big lessons are more abstract, more ethereal, harder to present in digestible, Internet-friendly nuggets. Yet I will say that my experience of humans around the world is that — for the most part — we’re a fairly benevolent and accommodating gang. Once our basic needs are met, I truly believe we naturally seek ways to be helpful to others. Travelling reinforced this belief.
You’ve been known to dabble in yoga — did your practice support you in any way while you were travelling?
Great question. I’d like to think I maintain a varied practice, ranging from pleasantly restorative to downright gritty. One of the most valuable parts of the grittier side of my practice is intentionally seeking uncomfortable positions and then seeing how I can manage the discomfort — or even find a certain form of ecstasy within. These are the moments when the internal conversation becomes truly raw: “Well Buster, what are you actually made of?”
The ability to withstand discomfort becomes an invaluable tool to employ on the road. In Laos, I was on a bus that — because of continued mechanical failure — took 22-hours to travel 300 kilometers. In Costa Rica, I stayed on a raw vegan farm with an American expat who most likely had an untreated case of schizophrenia. In Morocco, I had a local man spit in my face. These were situations where I was right on the edge of my comfort zone (or even personal security).
What’s amazing is how the strategy for holding a difficult asana applies to managing a difficult situation: pause, withhold reaction, monitor thoughts and —most importantly of all — breathe. In this regard, yoga heavily permeated my journey.
Funny you should ask . . . it was exactly opposite to what I was expecting! I spent the month of October on a yoga retreat in Goa. I don’t want to give too much away, but the place didn’t actually have any yoga — or at least “yoga” as I had anticipated, in a more western sense of the word. The irony was rather rich. It’s definitely a chapter your readers will love!
Now that you’ve seen the world, what’s next? Any travel plans or other adventures in the near future?
Well the book was another massive journey to embark upon! In the independent spirit of my geographical expedition, I decided to independently release the book. This process has provided an ample amount of learning and boundary stretching. And I’m delighted with the product that my editor (Monique James) and I produced.
In terms of future travel plans, I am currently stewing up another adventure. It’s going to be different from my yearlong, 12-country extravaganza, which was quite social and involvement-driven. For the next journey I’ll be leaning towards something more meditative, more focused (in terms of geography) and slower paced. I’m becoming increasingly interested in landscape and how that affects culture. That’s all I’m giving away right now — so stay tuned!