People always say travel is too expensive. They make up all these reasons and excuses as to why it’s impossible for them to let go of the anxiety and hang ups in life that hold them back from getting to know the world.
I once read that if you could afford to live in a first world country, you could most definitely afford to travel. However, the illusion of fear stops the majority of people from following their wanderlust. It’s common for people to say that when they retire from a life of drudgery they will finally travel to all the places they have dreamed about. But by that time, it rarely ever happens. Instead, they reach old age and are stricken with disappointment and regret for the chances they did not take. They wish they could have done and seen so much more. The only rational explanation for this is that they just don’t want it enough, or they spend too much time focusing on superficial success, money, and pleasing society, rather than the glorious pursuit of life.
The truth is, you can travel the world on very little. You could leave behind your home, your job, your family and your friends and embark upon a journey with less than $20 in your pocket.
Leon Logothetis did it on kindness alone.
As a kid, he always had a passion for travel. He often dreamt of “far away lands, colorful cultures, and a sense of adventure,” such as the Egyptian pyramids and the remnants of those great kingdoms. Logothetis remembers reading books about exploration and getting tangled in his imagination as “the words on the page came to life.” When he was 13, he got lost in Paris while on a family vacation. Initially, he panicked but soon realized that getting lost brought “a sense of unbridled joy.”
I had the opportunity to connect with Logothetis while he was exploring the fabled Green Mountains of the Sultanate of Oman. Needless to say, his perspective and insight have challenged us to expand our consciousness and contemplate our innate human need for exploration.
Inspired by the movie The Motorcycle Diaries, he left behind his demanding job as a broker in the city of London and went in search of new experiences with his bike named Kindness One. So far, the global adventurer has visited every single continent, and gradually explored more than 90 countries.
You might be thinking to yourself, “How can someone travel the world on kindness? You can’t survive without money. People don’t just freely offer handouts to strangers.” And yet, Logothetis was somehow able to achieve the unimaginable. To rely on strangers for shelter, food, and gas.
“I consider the world to be a nice place if you know where to look,” explains Logothetis. “Obviously there are negative things going on, but we are bombarded with these negative things minute by minute. The nightly news, the daily newspapers and the radio all have a negative sensationalist slant to them. But good people and good deeds exist on a far more pervasive level than most of us realize.”
His experiences have allowed him to live a more meaningful and purposeful life. The social conventions that once held him back disappeared when he let go and decided to take a chance. He finally learned where true wealth resides, and why our comfort zones are, ultimately, our prisons.
“My journey has definitely opened up my heart. It has also opened up my ability to connect with people,” he said. “Most of the time when we connect with others we are surprised by the reciprocal kindness we are shown. We often stay in our own little comfort zones, fearing that emerging from them will be the end of us. Well, I found that coming out of my comfort zone was in fact the making of me. And I believe that we all have the innate power to free ourselves from a potentially unfulfilling existence.”
It would be a lie to say that his daily life on the road was without stress, that is to say, he encountered quite a few hardships while relying on humanity for assistance. But every moment was a confirmation that he was on the right path. In the end, the best moments have been the ones he didn’t plan.
Logothetis will never forget the time he had to literally get down on his hands and knees and beg for guards at the Thai/Cambodian border to allow him across with his beloved yellow vintage motorbike.
During his expedition, there were two main moments that really frightened him. “The first was my decision to sleep on the streets of Pittsburgh with my new friend Tony. Although he looked after me and protected me, I had been warned that the park was known for its violence,” Logothetis said, while reflecting back on his encounters. “A second scary moment was a few days after I had left the city of Patna in India; I heard that there was a bomb, which killed five people.”
Despite the adversities, his journey also included extraordinary moments, including being lauded as a celebrity in India because he drove a yellow bike similar to the one a famous Bollywood character owned. He also recollects the moments he spent in the streets of Trieste, Italy, fencing with some random guy he met earlier in the day.
But his most unforgettable experience was meeting Tony. Tony was homeless, but “opened up his heart and his home (the sidewalk) to a complete stranger,” said Logothetis. “He shared with me stories of his life and how he had found himself on the streets. He then offered to let me sleep next to him on the sidewalk and that he would look after me. Here was a man who had nothing, yet he had everything. He was an angel in disguise and he enabled me to see the world from a totally different perspective. I was fortunate enough to repay his kindness by putting him up in an apartment and sending him back to school. But, truly, his gifts were far more powerful than mine. He gave me the gift of compassion.”
Each day, horizon and struggle was a brand new beginning, an empowering reminder that life only has as much meaning as you give it. It was a reminder that continuously brought him closer to a new appreciation and love for life. Being alone in an unknown country, with no money and no return ticket home, taught him more about living than any high-paying salary ever could.
“The most important life lesson I learned was that true wealth doesn’t reside in our wallets, but in our hearts,” he said with conviction. “Of course being financially secure is very important, and without that, it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. However, the real power, the real joys of life come from an open heart; a heart filled with love, and compassion. I met so many people on my journey who had very little in their wallets, but who had an overflowing of riches in their hearts. They inspired me to see beyond the perceived ‘status’ of my fellow man, and to look into the ocean of compassion and love that resides in us all.”
What holds people back from taking that leap of faith is permission, but Logothetis’ story is a testament that magical powers truly do come from realizing there really is so much more to this life than routine. You only live once, find those experiences that challenge you and swallow them whole. You may always find reasons not to do something, but if you’re capable of finding the reasons to do something (even if it scares the shit out of you), you will be rewarded tenfold.
He has hopes that his new book, The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World, which goes into detail about his circumnavigation of the globe on kindness, will encourage people to take risks, to remember all the good that is in the world around them. To keep going.
“It is the challenges we face in our lives that can ultimately inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. If we stay in our comfort zones we rob ourselves of this fuel that inspires change. The fuel is the challenge each and every one of us faces. How we deal with these challenges determines the direction our lives take. Challenges that if we can take the profound lessons from, we can fuel great lives. Lives of meaning. Lives of consequence. Lives that inspire ripples long after we are gone.”
Leon Logothetis is a global adventurer, motivational speaker, philanthropist, author, TV host and producer. Both of his books, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody and The Kindness Diaries, can be found on his website.