By: Ethan Maurice
I'm jet-lagged and have to run to catch a bus across the south island of New Zealand soon, but I want to pin down a beautiful thought that's been bouncing around my head the past couple days.
In the history of humanity, traveling has never been so damn easy. Think about it: you could be almost anywhere on the face of the earth in a matter of a day or two. This weekend, you could snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, walk the Great Wall of China, or drink a Guinness in Ireland.
This might seem normal to us, as we were born with this privilege, but looking from a larger perspective, it couldn't be further from usual. For hundreds of thousands of years, we humans could only travel as fast as we could walk. Eventually, we figured out how to tame and ride animals that were faster than us, which sped things up a bit. We built ships, and bold explorers crossed uncharted oceans with wind power. However, nothing comes remotely close to the ability to travel we have today. Whenever we want, you and I can sit in a pressurized metal tube with wings and blast through the sky at over 500 miles per hour—to nearly anywhere on Earth. Such mobility has only been around for a handful of decades, and in the grand scheme of humanity, that's but a drop in the bucket of human history.
We also have this new technology called the internet. It allows us to instantly connect with others across the globe. And it's really opened things up. You can type the name of any place on Earth into Google and it will give you more information than you could ever consume about it. In a couple minutes, you can book a place to stay, nearly anywhere on Earth. We also have these incredible “work-trade” websites that can get you free housing and food, all over the world, in exchange for a couple hours of work each day.
And if you're from the United States and have a decent credit score, it gets even better. Sign up for a travel credit card, jump through a couple hoops, and you can blast through the sky in a pressurized metal tube to anywhere for virtually free.
Put all that together: If you're from the United States, have a decent credit score, and a willingness to help for a couple hours each day, you can—fly, stay, and eat basically anywhere on Earth—for FREE. There's not much left to pay for after that, folks.
It's for these reasons I was able to a summer on the Big Island of Hawaii for $9.29 per day. It's also why I'm spending the next four months in New Zealand!
I just blasted through the sky in a pressurized metal tube at over 500 miles per hour all the way from the United States to New Zealand, courtesy of Citibank. And thanks to a website called HelpX, I'll be living in a hostel on the beach in exchange for two hours of housekeeping per day. They're also throwing in dinner and free mountain bike and kayak rentals.
String these couple resources together and the world just opens up to you. I don't know about you, but I find this mindbogglingly incredible! Look across human history—the ease and speed of travel today is utterly shocking. Our ancestors, our grandparents... even our own parents never had it this good. Travel has never been so accessible, so inexpensive, so easy.
What an opportunity! Go somewhere! Do something! And if you need some help getting started, read this.