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My family moved around a lot before I could remember, and then 3 more times after I could. By the time I turned 8, we were in California, and ended up staying there. However, the precedent had already been set. Wandering was in my blood.
Funny thing about me: I have a fear of flying. Knowing this, my parents offered me a trip to Europe for graduating early (when I was 16). It's not that they had a lot of money, it's just that
they thought for sure I would turn it down because of the flight. Haha. Little did they know that my desire to see the world would trump all obstacles.
So my very first plane ride was a very long overseas trip to Paris and London when I was 16. I filled up a few disposable film cameras with photos, and when I touched down in my hometown after 2 weeks (standard vacation time), I was almost in tears - feeling like I had just begun to scratch the surface. I promised myself I would find a way to travel more. MUCH more.
I started by creating an audio production business called Last Drop Mastering in 2007. I began working with artists from around the world online.
I had taken a few solo cross country trips in the early 2000s, but the real breakthrough occurred after I picked up and finally made a move to New York City in 2010. While I enjoyed the change of pace (and the pace in general), after a year I was craving an even bigger move. The perfect opportunity presented itself when I had the chance to visit Vietnam for a wedding in 2011. I was scheduled to tour Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for just 2 weeks, but from the minute my plane touched down in Asia, I was in love with this fascinating new world.
As my online business was generating a bit of income back in the U.S., I realized I could explore and take photos for much, much longer. Other travelers would ask me..."so if you don't have to go back home, why should you?" I listened. My two week trip turned into 6 months...and I added Laos, Philippines and Hong Kong to my destination list.
Upon returning back to family and friends in San Francisco, I thought I was ready to get back to "normal life". Nope. I was bitten by the travel bug bad...I immediately began planning another trip...this time, to India. It had always been a dream of mine. In September of 2012, I left California for 3 months of exploring north and south India. It was (as expected) a fascinating, life changing experience...but it was also extremely challenging.
Before returning back to California, I stopped in Manila, Philippines to visit some friends. Realizing that I didn't get to experience much of what the country had to offer on my previous trip (just 5 days in Manila), I devoted more time to exploring the islands and culture...I ended up falling in love with all of it.
I stayed for a full year, exploring as much of the country's beaches, waterfalls, and rice terraces as I could. In November 2013, on the night before my scheduled flight home, I wrote an article about my observations there. To my surprise, it went incredibly viral. Through my publishing and advocacy work since, I have been afforded many opportunities to share the warmth and beauty of the Philippines. For this, I am ever so grateful.
It has kind of become my adopted home.
By now, I have added extensive Singapore travel to my resume, as well as a few published photos in the Dec 2017 / Jan 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveler Magazine. That was a lifelong dream of mine as well.
So yes. I needed to find a way to travel much, much more...and I certainly found it. As Paulo Coelho says: "The universe conspires to help the dreamer".
I have streamlined my life enough to the point where I can check in with work from anywhere, and travel and photograph as much as possible. It's not always a cakewalk - and has definitely required huge sacrifices, but for me, it has been ENTIRELY worth it.
I used to be vegan, but as I get older I realize I don't want to miss any great experiences in life. I didn't travel to the other side of the world to NOT try these foods! How could I not eat rabbit in France? Crickets in Cambodia? Balut in the Philippines? I will try just about anything a local puts in front of me.
I believe you really are the 'architect of your dreams'. This I found out firsthand. People live stressful and complex lives, because that's all they know. They think they have
to. Then they have to escape their lives in the form of drinking, drugs, television...and while these things may be fun in moderation, my philosophy is simple: I aim to design a
life that requires no escape. I want to engage in the present, and continue trying to push the boundaries of what people think is possible...in all aspects of my
My life is like a river, and I have learned to not fight the current. It has lead me down a very unconventional path...one which required sacrifice, but provided me with plenty of incredible (dare I say jaw-dropping?) experiences that have left me truly, deeply happy. I have never been one to trade my valuable time (and contentment) for a fist full of dollars. I feel so fortunate and am truly grateful for the life I have.
“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
I am addicted to photographing sunsets and the full moons, and try to see both as often as possible. My mind is blown on an almost daily basis out here, and I share my photography in the hopes that it will inspire others as well. Yes, I hope in some small way these experiences might help shine some light on what it is YOU love to do. I don't care what that is. Just do it. As often as you can.
We live in an era where long-term budget travel is easier and more affordable than ever. The Internet is a wealth of knowledge for DIY adventurers. I maximize my budget by using Amazon (U.S. / U.K.) and Lazada (PHL / SG). for my camera and travel gear. My rule is I never buy anything that has less than thirty legit 4-star reviews...Amazon ensures that I get the best price, and my "rule" ensures that my products have been thoroughly tested and approved before taking them out on the road. They last for years!
When it comes to gear and hotels I recommend to you...I apply the same standards. I will never recommend a sub-par product or service simply because I'm being paid. Honestly, I despise blogs that are too "salesy" or promotional. I don't even like pop-ups that ask (force) the reader to watch an ad or "like" the blogger on FB. I will never do that to you. I just try to focus on producing the best and most engaging content I can.
I do hope you like it.
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(You can also like my "I Dreamed of This" page below, but make sure you visit the FB page and select the settings options: "See first in newsfeed", or "get notifications". This will ensure you will see the posts in your news feed - Nathan W. Allen)
- Nathan Allen
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