I’m Marinel and I started this endeavour of living a nomadic life in 2014 when I traveled for a year to trek in the mountain regions of Asia and Europe. I hit 22 countries at that time and decided that I wish to continue this lifestyle for the rest of my life. I’m seriously in love with the mountains so in order to execute my long-term plan of trekking the rest of my life, I decided to launch two enterprises: a non-profit organization, Trails Without Borders and a social enterprise, Peak Explorations. Both entities promote local sustainable tourism and lesser known trails globally. My blog, Brown Gal Trekker aims to inspire women to travel and trek mountains worldwide. My enterprises are already working on women-only treks in Nepal and Peru to promote the women in the outdoors. You can follow me on the following social media channels! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
1.What inspired you to decide to live this nomad lifestyle?
It was a process, really. I have loved traveling on a budget since 15 years ago but didn’t really consider the idea of living a nomadic lifestyle seriously until I became increasingly obsessed with trekking up mountains which started about 10 years ago. I love the notion of freedom but when you start out in your adult life with a normal career, the idea of living an unconventional life of traveling is intimidating to say the least. After so much time spent in the mountains in various parts of the world, somehow, you do eventually overcome that initial sense of fear. Once you get past that, you realize fear was merely an illusion. You then gain a much more meaningful perspective in life , in that what matters the most is to do what fills your soul with joy. In my case, that happens to be traveling, and to be specific, hiking up mountains.
2- Is a travel lifestyle as glamorous as people think?
My type of traveling is very specific, it’s mountain trekking, so I have to say, no. I walk in the mountains for days and it’s not uncommon to be shower-free for weeks. Even for an average traveler, what I do when I travel in the mountains is far from normal. I love hiking so much that to me showers, clean clothes or extravagant meals are easy sacrifices to make. I can tell you, however, about what’s glamorous with mountain trekking – the mountains, lakes, wildlife, among all the other highlights that nature affords us! Not only that but meeting the local people who inhabit the mountains is the most glamorous aspect of it all. I may not remember all the details of the landscapes I’ve seen in Nepal’s Himalayas or Mongolia’s Altai mountains, but I can tell you exactly how the experience was like to spend time with the locals of those regions. I suppose the word glamorous has different meanings. In my world of travels, this is the best that it gets.
3- What keeps you motivated to keep on travelling?
Being with nature motivates me. The experience affords me a sense of peace that no other things in life can emulate. It’s hard to explain, really. But, in addition, the unpredictability of a traveling lifestyle including who you will meet and what moments you’ll create is highly appealing to me as it gives me a tremendous amount of adventure.
4- What do you love most about long term travel and what do you dislike most?
In addition to unpredictability and freedom, I also love the ability to challenge myself and expand my horizons in the process. Self-growth is inevitable when you’re traveling, even more so the longer you are on the road. I love every aspect of the changes that occur within me when I’m outside of my comfort zone. I look forward to being a different version of myself in the next week, month or year. Self-exploration and introspection go hand in hand with the travels we do and how we come out of the experiences is unpredictable in and of itself.
I’d say the only dislike I have regarding traveling is when illnesses or injuries arise. I had a few unfortunate instances including experiencing a major altitude mountain sickness from my first time ascending the peak of Kilimanjaro. But these experiences only serve me to be wiser and more prepared next time, so much so, that I even wrote an article on 13 ways to survive Kilimanjaro. You can check it here.
5- Have you had any major troubles on your travels?
Other than the battle for my life on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, I only had minor incidents of crime. One memorable one happened when I was in a busy market on the streets of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I had a struggle with a little boy who tried to steal my backpack in the middle of the street in broad daylight. Luckily, I overpowered the little guy and was able to lose him in the crowd.
6- How can you afford long term travel?
I saved money while working as an attorney before venturing out in 2014. I also have rental properties in Manila. Most recently, I have my social enterprise underway which markets treks and adventure travels worldwide to solo adventurers.
7- Where are you now and where are you going next?
I’m currently in Washington, DC to launch and establish the foundation for Peak Explorations and Trails Without Borders, along with my blog. I also decided to be here for now to deal with my possessions including selling my house. Once I accomplish all the tasks needed to get my two enterprises going, I plan to relocate and move between places where Peak Explorations runs its treks/adventure tours such as Peru, Nepal, Mongolia and Republic of Georgia. As a break from managing my enterprises, I do plan to spend time in the Philippines to visit family and enjoy the beach.
8- Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you recommend for digital nomads and why?
Given internet access is a key here, I think any major cities in every country these days would be a good bet. Since I’m focused on mountain trekking, I would say the Republic of Georgia is a great choice for a digital nomad who loves trekking. The country has some of the most hospitable people in the world, with cheap cost of living and great cuisine. Getting around is easy within the country. Plus, it’s near Istanbul which is a fantastic hub from which to fly cheaply to nearby countries with mountains such as those in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
9- What item/gadget don’t you travel without?
Obviously, it’s my laptop or any gadget that will allow me to connect via internet, especially now that I have to run my social enterprise, non-profit organization and my blog.
10- What advice would you give to someone who is about to start long term travelling?
Plan it. It’s a major commitment to make so you shouldn’t take the process lightly. The goal is to be able to sustain the lifestyle for a long time, if not the rest of your life. Hence, don’t just jump into this without a thorough evaluation of your options to make this happen. You don’t want to start such a major endeavour in your life with doubt in your mind. I’m all for following your heart’s desires but at the same time you owe yourself to listen to the practical side of you, as well. And, it’s okay if it takes you more time than you like to get there. If long-term travelling is truly your desire, then don’t worry when it’ll happen. Just know that it will.