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How to travel the world like Indiana Jones

| 31 comments | Category: guest post, travel

While I mostly talk about language learning here on Fi3M, I know a lot of you follow the blog for the travel/culture aspect of it, since travel can indeed be a huge adventure for so many of us.

So today’s guest post is from Matt Kepnes, who runs Nomadic Matt’s travel site. I’ve met Matt many times, always in different places, and he would be much more of a travel blogger than I am (since I tend to only “travel” for a day or two every 2-3 months usually and stay put in one place, albeit different every time).

Matt has been on the road for five years, where he has been truly nomadic nearly the entire time, and still stays in hostels, finds ways to stretch his budget and has an interesting experience in each place.

In this post he discusses a great sense of adventure that a lot of us may have dreamed about when growing up; the Indiana Jones mentality and lifestyle. Having met Matt in person a lot, and seeing how much fun he is, I do think he’s the best guy to write about this! Take it away Matt!

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When I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist. After watching “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” I thought it would be such an amazing, manly job to have. I wanted to be able to live like Indy. I wanted to go discover humanity’s lost secrets in all corners of the world.

I never became an archaeologist but my desire to explore the world and learn its history has never dwindled, thanks in part to my memories of the Indiana Jones movies.

Indiana Jones showed how cool it was to travel and explore the world. He jetsetted around the globe, and he did it style.

After traveling for close to five years straight, I can tell you that, even without being an archaeologist, there are still ways to kick ass and travel the world like Indiana Jones:

Be Adventurous

Indiana Jones was an adventurous guy. He’d go trekking through jungles, traverse empty deserts, explore ruins, and crawl through underground cemeteries. It was all in a day’s work for him. He never chickened out on any activity. (Unless it had to do with snakes, but even then he eventually conquered his fear.)

If you want to be a successful traveler, you need to live for the adventure. It’s the adventures that we remember. It’s the times we push ourselves to the limit that we think back on years later. If you’re out exploring the big, bad world, you should be taking that jungle trip through the Amazon, jumping out of planes, and learning to scuba dive. When will you get another chance?

Indiana never took the easy road. Travel is about breaking out of your comfort zone. It’s about pushing yourself and finding out what you are made of. Real men don’t back down. Real men challenge themselves. So jump off that cliff. Eat that grasshopper. Arm wrestle that Ukrainian bouncer. Live it up. Be fearless.

I was recently on a trip to the Galapagos Islands, and everyone was diving off the boat one day. I hate heights as much as Indiana Jones hates snakes but I realized that I would probably never have the chance to do this again. I closed my eyes and jumped. I might never do it again but I don’t regret taking that leap.

Be Friendly

Indiana Jones was never rude to anyone. He treated people like people. He was polite, and he was cool. He mixed well with the locals and followed their customs. He rarely got angry (unless it was at Nazis). His easy charm is why everyone liked him and why all the women wanted him. So be polite. Be engaging. Have a good time, and invite others to join you. Indy had a magnetic personality, which made him cool. That’s why every 12-year-old kid growing up in the 1980s wanted to be him.

When I’m traveling, my best experiences with locals happen when I open myself up to them. When I say hello, thank you, or goodbye. When I accept their hospitality. When I make an effort to treat them like equals. And because of that I have been taken to people’s Easter celebrations in Sweden, festivals in Greece, and family dinner in Cambodia.

Indiana was never the rude tourist, and you shouldn’t be either.

Be Tough

Indy was tough. He could take punches, climb walls, jump off cliffs, and handle crazy Indians who wanted to (literally) rip out his heart. He was pretty bad-ass.

On the road, be tough. Of course, don’t be one of those fighting drunks that everyone hates. I don’t mean that kind of tough. Instead, focus on doing something that is exciting, thrilling, and physically challenging. Go cliff-diving or bungee jumping. Learn Muay Thai boxing or run a marathon in some distant country. Indy might have had a soft side with the ladies, but when push came to shove, he pushed himself to his physical limits.

Travel is about pushing yourself not only to your mental limits, but to your physical ones, too. Step up to the plate and simply say, “I may wake up tomorrow sore, but I’ll never know if I can do this if I don’t try.” I could barely move after I did Muay Thai in Ko Phi Phi, but, while I got my butt kicked, it is still one of my fondest travel memories. It was the first time I ever pushed myself physically, and it has given me the courage to do it over and over again.

Be Intelligent

Besides being totally bad-ass, Indiana Jones was also smart. He was no idiot. He knew Latin, history, science, and languages. No matter how awesome being tough is, being smart is just as cool. Know about the world. Read. Learn how to speak languages other than your own. Read the history of the places you’re visiting. Learn about their current events. Know where you are.

If it wasn’t for brains, Indy wouldn’t have solved the Grail puzzle or found the Lost Ark. Remember, there’s nothing cooler than a guy who knows what he is talking about. Would Indiana Jones be as great if he picked the wrong chalice or didn’t remember to close his eyes when they opened the ark? No, of course not. Being smart as a traveler not only makes you more prepared on the road, but it also helps you blend in and relate to the locals.

Don’t Let Age Stop You

Say what you want about his quest for aliens – old Indy kept on going despite his age. He kept up with his son. He fought those Russians. No matter how old you are, don’t let age stop you. The second you begin to think you are old, you’ve become old. On the road, I have met seniors, boomers, and families staying in hostels and backpacking throughout the world.

Travel is not for the young. It’s for the young at heart.

There’s nothing that says you can’t travel when you are older. It’s only the fear you have in your head that says that. Real men don’t quit when they are older. They just get more awesome. Look at George Clooney – he’s only become better with age. Like a fine wine.

All of these traits will help make you as cool of a traveler as Indiana Jones.

Because, let’s admit it: Indy was as a bad-ass guy who knew how to travel the world. No one could ever call his travel style boring. Heck, he even survived a nuclear explosion in a refrigerator! So why wouldn’t you want to follow in his footsteps with the right traits? These traits will not only help you on the road, but they can help you become a better man off the road, too.

Matthew Kepnes has been continuously traveling the world for five years now. He writes about conquering your travel fears, life on the road, and how to travel on a budget at his website, Nomadic Matt.

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  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    ha! Great pic Matt. I follow the blog largely to follow your travel insights and adventures so great to see Matt here with his insights. 

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      A few people have been telling me they follow the blog more for the travel than the language part, so I’m glad to share posts like this to delve into that aspect more :)

  • http://twitter.com/Technosyncratic Christy & Kali

    Love this!  Indiana Jones definitely has a lot to teach us about travel.  I particularly like the point to be friendly…. but be tough!

    • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

      Indiana Jones was the original travel guru! 

  • Anonymous

    This is a great post by Matt – really engaging and I’m happy to see that even he can appreciate the delights of Mr Clooney!

    Seriously though, he’s totally right – Indy is a great example of a traveller’s ‘philosophy’ and I’m very proud that I have indeed jumped off that cliff AND eaten a grasshopper (tasty, really!) thanks to following these very ideals!

    Love the rest of the site too – this is my first visit! :-)

  • http://akamartha.com Susan Reed

    Am I missing something? It looks to me like this post cuts off suddenly? Am I supposed to go somewhere? No one else seems to have this problem (or they didn’t read through to the end?)

    • http://www.janafadness.com Jana Fadness

      It’s cut off for me as well.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ArielDelTedesco Ariel Del Tedesco Hoving

        Yeah, for me it’s cut off too…. I’ve got curious to know the rest! Where’s Benny? Say to him that! XD

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

          Now you can!

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

          Now you can!

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

        Have a read now ;) Internet problems cut it off…

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

        Have a read now ;) Internet problems cut it off…

    • http://www.janafadness.com Jana Fadness

      It’s cut off for me as well.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Very sorry about that! The Internet in this hotel is terrible, so it seems it saved half the message when I updated it (it initially had the entire thing), and cut off the other half!
      Read it now and you should see the whole thing ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Very sorry about that! The Internet in this hotel is terrible, so it seems it saved half the message when I updated it (it initially had the entire thing), and cut off the other half!
      Read it now and you should see the whole thing ;)

  • http://akamartha.com Susan Reed

    Am I missing something? It looks to me like this post cuts off suddenly? Am I supposed to go somewhere? No one else seems to have this problem (or they didn’t read through to the end?)

  • http://twitter.com/Mr_Lundy Lunderman

    Because of things in and out of my control, I have not traveled near as much as I’ve wanted to in my 31 years of life. Glad to see this post as one that loved Indiana Jones growing up (particularly being from the U.S. state of Indiana). From the little travel I’ve done, I completely agree with Matt’s observations and am so glad I found Benny’s blog a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to get my arse overseas more and put some of his ideas to work! Cheers.

  • http://www.MonkeyBrewster.com/ Cornelius Aesop

    I’m trying that “Be Tough” aspect now and seeing if I have what it takes to do a long distance ride next year. It’s a while away but the training starts now. Hopefully, that motivates me to stay tough when I leave to travel the world 3 months later.

    • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

      Hard work always pays off! 

    • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

      Hard work always pays off! 

    • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

      Hard work always pays off! 

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    I particularly agree with the part about needing to be open with the locals.  I’d also add to that, a closely related bit of advice: any invitation you get to go do something, take it (within reason, but very, very, very few things fall into the “ok this is dangerous/stupid, maybe I shouldn’t do this” category, far fewer than you think.  Maybe you’re not the sort of person who would purposely travel to Spain just to run with the bulls, but if you happened to be in Pamplona at that time of year and someone said they could get you in…how much would you regret it if you turned them down?  Under those circumstances, I’d do it, and I think the whole running with a bunch of angry bulls for an adrenaline rush thing is really stupid :/

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

    Benny and I just randomly meet up…it’s fate! 

  • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

    Benny and I just randomly meet up…it’s fate! 

  • http://twitter.com/nomadicmatt Nomadic Matt

    Benny and I just randomly meet up…it’s fate! 

  • http://twitter.com/TravelBlggr travelblggr

    Cute picture of Matt!  Great advice too … especially the last one.  It’s never too late to follow what you’re passionate about.

  • http://twitter.com/TravelBlggr travelblggr

    Cute picture of Matt!  Great advice too … especially the last one.  It’s never too late to follow what you’re passionate about.

  • http://twitter.com/TravelBlggr travelblggr

    Cute picture of Matt!  Great advice too … especially the last one.  It’s never too late to follow what you’re passionate about.

  • http://www.languatica.com Georgi Georgiev

    This post is too awesome!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hal.wulff Hal Wulff

    Been doing it man for more than 25 years. I return to Belize Nov. 23rd. I have located a lost Mayan Temple similar to the Kukulcan Temple of Cichen Itza. No joke.

  • David C. Maness

    Indiana Jones started as a Boy Scout. I’ve found that traveling seems to just work when I do it as if I were a Boy Scout going on a camping trip. I would suggest that you’re never too old for the travel advice in the Boy Scount Handbook, and its sequel, the Fieldbook.