An Interview with Karol Gajda: Incredible Lightness of Traveling

January 20, 2010

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every once in awhile I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist. A couple of prominent minimalists I’ve interviewed in the post: Leo Babauta on the liberation of being minimalist, and Colin Wright about working from anywhere in sexy shoes.

This week I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Karol Gajda, the blogger behind Ridiculously Extraordinary. Karol is a perpetual traveler, living out of a bag and working from everywhere. He leaves for India in a few days. He hopes to help 100 people begin to live extraordinary lives through his blog.

We discussed tips for traveling lighter and supporting yourself while you’re on the road.

Everett Bogue: What made you decide to live a ridiculously extraordinary life?

Karol Gajda: It was either that or continue being normal.

But seriously, initially my only goal was to not have to get a job out of college by working for myself full time. That was almost 10 years ago. I didn’t really take advantage of the Ridiculously Extraordinary freedom I had by traveling extensively until recently.

Everett: You’re headed to India in a few weeks, according to your travel itinerary on your blog. Can you give us a short rundown of your travel plans?

Karol: I have a one way ticket and very general plans. I don’t even have my accommodations set yet.

My first month will be in Goa. A guy from the UK set up a little guitar building school there and I’m going to build my own guitar. If I love Goa I’ll stay there for a while after that.

Otherwise I’m not sure. I may visit Thailand after India, but again, it’s all up in the air. I am definitely visiting Poland when it starts warming up. I was born in Poland, but haven’t spent an extensive amount of time there. I do speak the language, but I’m looking forward to learning to speak much better.

Everett: I recently watched your interview with Baker, where you discussed traveling with three quick-dry shirts. Can you explain more about your approach to clothing while you’re traveling?

Karol: My approach is simple: take the absolute bare minimum and hand wash everything.

Having less makes my life easy. My single pair of convertible pants may look funny, but I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow.

Everett: What other essentials do you travel with?

Karol: My laptop so I can get work done. I do enjoy seeing the sights, of course, but I also love working in new places. To some that defeats the purpose of travel. But that’s the beauty of being free. I can do what I want.

If I want to work on the road perpetually I can. If I want to come back “home” (which is nowhere at the moment) I can. I’m not bound by the limits of savings. That said, I’m a pretty budget conscious traveler.

Everett: Can you recommend one way that we can all travel lighter?

Karol: Yes, my best tip if you want to travel light is to get a smaller carry on. Preferably a backpack. Mine is 32L. Then force yourself to fit everything you need in there.

Everett: One of the hardest aspects of traveling is being able to support yourself financially on the road, how do you accomplish this?

Karol: I’ve been working online for myself for almost 10 years now. It’s a little bit more difficult while traveling because of sometimes spotty Internet and because there are a lot of cool things to see and people to hang out with. I’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult if I’m constantly on the move so I’ve reassessed my travel goals. From now on I’m staying in each new place for at least a month. (Unless, of course, I just don’t like it.)

Everett: Can you suggest one method we can employ to support themselves financially while we’re traveling abroad?

Karol: That’s a great question, and one that’s at the forefront of a lot of prospective traveler’s minds. A lot of travelers I met in Australia saved up enough to travel for a few months and then found jobs along the way to extend the travel.

If you don’t already have an online business and want to get started traveling right away, I think that’s the easiest way.

Everett: When you first started traveling, did you bring anything with you that you thought was a necessity, but it turned out not to be?

Karol: Well, a couple of years ago I went on a 3 week US tour with my friend’s band, and I took a full suitcase. Not a small one either. I think I packed a full 2 weeks of clothes. 14 shirts, 14 underwear, 14 socks! Plus an extra pair of pants and 2 hoodies.

I’ve always been fairly minimalistic in other aspects of my life so I don’t think I ever had any other extras to take besides too many clothes.

Everett: And finally, can you think of one aspect of our lives that many of us can change, which can help us lead to life that is more free?

Karol: It’s difficult to state something that everybody needs to change. And my goals aren’t really aligned with telling people what to do. The most important advice I can offer someone is to take action. If you want to start a business, start it. If you want to write a book, write it.

If you want to travel the world, buy a ticket and go.

Karol Gajda writes the blog Ridiculously Extraordinary, a must read resource for anyone who wants to get unstuck and begin living to the fullest.

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