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Goga Clay: Things I Learned When I Quit My Job to Travel The World

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A few months ago, I quit the corporate world to travel the world. Make no mistake, deciding to leave everything behind and travel is no easy feat. My farewell to the corporate world appeared doubly fascinating. Not so much because I had quit a job, but more so because I had done so for the seemingly precarious goal of traveling. As you can imagine, since embarking on this adventure, several people have asked what it has been like. So, as I wrap up my first quarter as a world traveler, I should like to share my response to this question, expound on my initial thesis, and share my impressions thus far.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness… Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain

I do not know if traveling has changed me, but I also do not know how I can be the same after what I’ve experienced – like, the day I almost got caught by rangers whilst illegally climbing an active volcano in Costa Rica; the night I got lost in Panama City with a dead cell phone at my disposal; the day that a lake in Guatemala almost took me; the moment I almost got mugged in Salvador, Brazil; the night I almost got shot in a favela in Rio; nights where I fell badly sick in Peru; days where there was no running water in my camp or hostel; nights in the mountains which were so cold, I thought I would contract some sort of long term illness; the list goes on.

What I do know, is that part of me was left out there. I also know that the law of nature is a true phenomenon. If you doubt me, check out my serendipitous encounters.

Lekki Conservation Centre and Arts and Craft Market

Backpacking through Central and South America taught me a few things. The first of which is, patience! Things will happen when they happen, not necessarily when you think they are supposed to happen. And if I were to think philosophically, I would say this is in direct correlation to the belief that things happen on their own time, not yours.

God and/or the universe will always get around to doing things at the appropriate time, so worrying about something not happening when you expect it to happen is a waste of time and energy. This was a big adjustment for me (particularly as a New Yorker!) In some respects, it still is; but I have learned to be markedly more patient than I previously was.

I’m not saying that you should abdicate all responsibility and wait for providence, no. What I am saying is that you should make plans and execute those plans to the best of your ability, but recognise when you have done your part. Do not waste efforts worrying about things beyond your control.

I also learned that the mind has a deeply embedded and highly functional defensive mechanism whose first instinct is to stop us from taking risks. This “fight or flight” response is undoubtedly useful in some situations (see: my favela experience); on the other hand, this same mind is capable of doing so many things once we are able to conquer the initial fear. I think this means that we should learn to control our minds, because having control over the mind will unlock it’s greatest potential. I truly believe that if you master your mind, you master your life. That old adage is true – the mind is a powerful thing!

Ijoko Train station, Ogun State

Another lesson: traveling in and of itself won’t do much for you. Like Wolfgang Mozart said, “a man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary whether he travels or not…”, but traveling with an open mind is the game-changer. Eat where and what the locals eat, be receptive of the culture and customs, and above all, mix with the people. If you are going to avoid all of these things, then you should just stay home.

What else did I learn? Oh yeah, solitude is a double-edged sword. Hiking through and sleeping on mountains and volcanoes presented me the best opportunities to not only think, but also appreciate life. On the other hand however, those were some of the loneliest periods. I was so lonely and cold sometimes; I thought it would break me.

Atop the Two Brothers hill, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Before I set out on my journey three months ago, I hypothesized that although we may look different and come from various corners of the world, we are fundamentally the same. From the dance and music, to the way children are raised, to the clothing, the food, spices and even forms of expression. I am happy to report that, based on where I have been and what I have seen, this holds true. The music heard in Brazil could easily be mistaken for African music.

The way Colombian women move their hips while dancing is comparable to the way South African women move theirs. Peruvian women interact with their children similarly to the way my mum raised me, and the food I tasted throughout The Americas can easily be found in Senegal or The Caribbean. And the list goes on.

In Machu Picchu, Peru

Dressed as an Aztec in Cusco, Peru

Now, back to the original question – what has it been like so far? Well, I have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, which I believe have and continue to build my character. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. I know nothing more enriching and enlightening than traveling the world, and I surely hope that more people get out and see the wonderful world we have.

On the edge of the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. The Arenal is an active volcano that is closed to the public, but…YOLO

Thanks to all who joined me along the way – you made the experience even more satisfying. And to those that I am yet to meet…can’t wait!

Goga Clay is curious about life. He recently quit the corporate world to travel the world as a backpacker. A minimalist, his mantra is "Love people, use things". He is an entrepreneur, writer, and creative consultant. Follow his adventures at www.claysvoyage.com and www.instagram.com/gogaclay

22 Comments

  1. Omolola

    October 7, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Beautiful! I like the spirit.

  2. Oluwatosin Oludare

    October 7, 2017 at 6:54 am

    That’s so brave of you!

  3. Ephi

    October 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I love this, takes a whole lot of courage to do it. The lessons learnt are also something to reflect on. I also like the Nigerian pictures which were included.

  4. Xala

    October 7, 2017 at 7:07 am

    This is so inspiring! I have been through some bumps lately! Maybe I will pack it all up and travel for a month or so

  5. Ogie

    October 7, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Obviously doesn’t have a Nigerian passport

    • Tiramisu

      October 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      People with Naija passport can see the world too! Stop limiting yourself in your head already!

    • Manny

      October 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      You are wrong. I can tell you that for a fact.

    • Dee

      October 8, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      How do you figure? Like people with Nigerian passports dont travel? Its called planning and getting visas

    • King James

      October 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

      He does have a Nigerian passport. I assure you.

  6. EJ

    October 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    With which money, abi na loan. Except u have don’t have a Nigerian passport or ur papa na dangote. Let’s be realistic, u have to save to go vacations

  7. nwa nna

    October 7, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Traveling is key.. If you cannot travel the world like he’s doing, then start by traveling through Nigeria first and foremost…
    There is so much to to see and learn about ourselves as Nigerians beyond the stereotypes and prejudice that we harbor.

    • ND babe

      October 8, 2017 at 4:41 am

      Let us be frank. How you wan enter Taxi when you neva fit pay for akauke from ya house to the nearest junction. Let us accept that this is the storyline of a privileged young man with no mouths waiting to be fed. It is not a bad thing. it is actually a good thing that he is this free to find himself. But this type of freedom is only purchased by family wealth, which even if not inherited, gives you the gutso you need to take off……almost like that feeling that if you fall, the landing will be soft.

  8. online24hrs

    October 8, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Insightful journey Goga Clay. Well done. @Nd babe. Don’t be an ignoramus.

  9. Rita

    October 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Yay! So proud of you Rob! Enjoy your next leg of backpacking. Life is short so live it to the fullest

  10. presh

    October 8, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    @ND babe i quite agree with you to some extent , i am a struggling young nigerian woman who have plenty of mouth to feed, but i decided to start living for me and start doing things that makes me happy and travel happens to be one. i make my yearly travel goals and try hard to fulfill it come what may.
    i have done 8 countries in the last 4 years ,it was hard but i did. it, my siblings and parents didnt die. i have gotten my freedom gradually and will get more of it soon. i am living for me not my family.

  11. Roselynn

    October 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    What an epic journey into yourself and into the world…. can’t wait to hear about the next part of your adventures….

  12. Dash

    October 8, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I for like follow you, but the way my account is set up…..

  13. Manny

    October 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Rob, congrats again. Excellent writeup and may you continue to learn more as you move to the next chapter. Open Mind; Open Eyes!

    To those of you surmising that this is only possible without a Nigerian passport and with a wealthy family, I can tell you first-hand that both assumptions are incorrect. Nigerian passport, no uber-rich parents sponsoring the trip. Planning, determination and execution. Those are what made this happen. Don’t limit yourself – see Presh’s comment as another example.

    Keep moving forward everybody.

  14. Esien

    October 8, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Splendid stuff, Goga. I envy you a great deal; wish I had the courage to hang my job for a bit and do what you’re doing. I should, soon. Keep the fire burning…

  15. Asha Bailey

    October 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    YAYYYY so happy for you! You’re killin it, so glad I we met in Brazil!

  16. Ms Char

    October 8, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    “God and/or the universe will always get around to doing things at the appropriate time, so worrying about something not happening when you expect it to happen is a waste of time and energy.”. AMEN!

  17. Ed Clay

    October 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Gogs!!! Its hilarious reading all the comments, some folks just plain understand and agree with you, others have tagged you “a rich kid”, “from a wealthy background”, “foreign passport holder” etc etc, maybe I should just tell them how you recently dug into Akpu, Fufu, 6 To 6 without fear or favour. Oh my brother, aren`t you making waves??? Well, as Iv told you, Africa isn`t the Americas, so please be careful. Even though youre not rich, we love you anyway lol!! #KeepTrampingSon

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