Earning money while traveling, some may say that Antonio Pedro Moreira is living the dream. He is a self published writer that quit his job as a psychologist to travel around the world. He has spent more than 9 months hitchhiking 20 000 km in the Eurasian continent. Cycled 15 000 km through Africa, a continent famous for its scorching heat. He was 2km away from Bin Laden 12 hours before he was shot in Pakistan. He was in Syria before the revolution. He was one week in Iraq without a cent, 11 days in Iran with 20€.
It's clear to say that a guy like that must have countless stories to share. His books are available for purchase at his store at Jumpseller, daquiali.com.
So the trip through Africa was 15 month, how do you manage to get that many experiences into one book?
One of my biggest challenges with putting the story together was to keep it short, or not huge at least. As I travel, I try to write about every day. I might not always write every day but like every 3rd day I try to write down what happens to me and how certain situations made me feel. In the end of a trip like this I have about 800 pages. But to make it readable I have to cut that down, which can be hard since to me, all 800 pages are important. I don't want to compromise what I write just to sell but on the other hand I also want my book to get out there and the experiences to be shared. But if people can write biographies in 500 pages I should be able to write about a trip in less right?
Yeah but on the other hand, you probably experience and live more during that time than some people do in their entire lives.
Haha no I wouldn't take it that far. Although I'm in a situation where more shit out of the norm will happen. But I do think that if you have your full attention and if you think about what's going on, you will always find material to write, no matter where you are staying. Because life is very interesting and people can be very interesting to.
I actually have a theory that makes kinda sense about this, or how travel makes you live more. If I go travel for a year compared to staying in Portugal for a year, I live the same about of time. I believe that life is made for memories. So if life is made for memories, that means that the more memories you have the more life you have and the more you have lived. Now when you travel, everything is so out of the norm every day, that it is much memorable. You know, even today I can think back and remember specific days.
You studied and worked as a psychologist and lived a pretty normal life previously to this. I must admit that I am a little bit jealous, but how did you come up with the idea and would everyone be able to do this?
I would say that everyone can do it. I’m not special in any kind of way. Whatever you might feel now could be similar to how I felt when I went on a two week trip to India. As I got there I looked around and noticed that I was surrounded by people like me, with one exception, my trip was for 2 weeks, theirs were 6 month and up. As I spent time with them I understood that they were just ordinary people, flesh and bone, just like me. That's when I realised that everyone can do this, everyone can live like this. You just need to make the decision and go. So that's what I did and I have not looked back since.
Just a decision and go, sounds easy, but what about planning, money, language etc.?
This is a point that I always try to make, the only difference between me and the person that didn't go, is that I went and the other person didn’t. One can argue that I wanted to go more, and that's probably true, but I know by now that everyone can do this. Off course different people will have a better or worse time, depending on how easy or picky they are with things. But if you want to go, I guarantee you that you can.
Then if you have social skills or emotional intelligence it might help you but it's far from fundamental. Now days with couch surfing and stuff, you don't need that much money either. You can even go around the whole money part if you do volunteer work or something like that.
Okay but on your trip from Portugal to Africa you were gone for 15 month, how much money did you spend?
On this trip I'm not sure really, and now it is too late to go back and check which is a shame. But I would guess that I spent somewhere around 7000 euros. But from my asia trip, where I stayed for more than nine month, I spent about 3000 €. And that's counting visas, camera, insurance, food and drink and travel expenses. About 1000 of that was spent on getting drunk and partying. So it's possible to do it in less, but for me, getting drunk and partying is part of the travelling. I like to have fun and it makes you get to know so many different people.
About the plan though, how much is planned before a trip like these?
I always try to plan the end destination, for example in my most recent trip, to Africa, I knew I wanted to get to South Africa but how I would get there changed a lot throughout the trip. Another example is during my first trip, where I did a detour through Syria and Lebanon because I wanted the experience. Off course I have some plans and goals set up before going, but I don't want to be trapped by them. For me it's important to have a plan that still leaves me open for experiences.
Best and worst experiences so far?
It's hard to say as you come across so many and so different types of experiences. But I had a great time in Pakistan, there is this one day that I go back to. I was staying with this really nice guy from Pakistan. He didn't know how to read or write but he told me stories from the 80’s when he was a hippie in Ibiza, selling handmade necklaces at the beach. Late at night one day he asks if I wanted to come with him to feed some stray dogs. We walk through a bunch of fields and we cross a bunch of lights. On the way we meet his friend and we all walked together. An hour later I find myself sitting in the middle of a field in the mountains of Pakistan, smoking a joint with two middle-aged men. So far away from the norm but still felt very natural.
Hmm but I don't know, I had a really bad experience that turned out well in Gabon, located on the west coast of Africa. I was cycling through the forest right next to elephants and deers and stuff, which was awesome. I also passed by a gorilla that was standing like 5 meters away. Anyways, I ended up meeting this tribe or family in the middle of the forest. They invited me to be a part of this shamanic ceremony. Somehow I turned out to be the shaman. So they feed me a lot of drugs and I was tripping balls for like 14 hours. That was truly a horrible experience. After it was over I was a bit shaken for about 4 month, like thinking about the idea of dying. But once it all settled I realised that it was a great experience because it made me feel slightly more comfortable with the notion of death. So a bad but in the end good experience.
Another great moment was when I hitchhiked in Iran and these guys pick me up. They did not speak any english but spoke in Persian and I answered in Portuguese. They bought me lunch and somehow they convinced me to stay at there house. They had this like big stable with 21 horses and everyone in the village came to see me. We all spent the whole night smoking joints and drinking home made vodka, cause alcohol is illegal in Iran. The next day we wake up and they give me this really cool bracelet and a ride to the bus station. It was a very unique and cool experience that I am glad I got the chance to experience.
When travelling around like this, how do you solve the language barriers. Do you always find people who speak english or what do you do? Doesn't it become a bit problematic to not be understood?
No, like in some countries it's easier than others but I realized that after a couple of month on the road you kinda develop this talent for expressing yourself with your hands and with your face. It's not like that does miracles but it goes a long way. Off course I will never know the conversations that I lost because I don't speak a certain language but so far I have had a lot of very good times with people that did not share a language with me. And along the way you kinda start to pick up some words and expressions. “Jeg snakker litt norsk, forstår du meg?” “Jeg forstår deg”.
The books that you have published on your webstore, you made that totally by yourself right?
Yes. It was some work but it wasn't that hard, because I like doing all of this. I like the process, not only the writing or traveling but the promoting, the getting the book together and stuff. It's my project you know and it's cool to see it become a reality. The publishing itself was not that problematic, just needed to write the book and then I got linked with a friend of mine, a graphic designer, that helped me a lot with the design. That also meant paying for it though, I payed 6500 € for all this. But it payed off quite quickly so that was okey. To promote it wasn't that hard to do by myself either. Then the concept of the book is quite unique, specially here in Portugal, so that helped a lot.
Right now, the books from your trips are the “only” things you sell on your webstore, do you think it's possible that you will start selling other stuff there too? Like cool things you picked up while traveling or something?
I don't know, haven't thought about it really. I will have to have a meeting with myself and see.
How important is it for you to have your own webstore, as opposed to just remaining a presence on social media.
It makes it easier since I can direct people there and they can make the purchase there. I realize it is easier when its the first boom. The boom of the book last for about a year. Then when people google the book or my name and end up at the store, that helps a lot with making a purchase. Then social media helps a lot too. But if I have a place like Jumpseller, I can just direct them there.
Your last trip you visited 22 countries, do you know how many countries have you been in in total?
I think its like 80 or 83 now, so almost half of the countries checked off now haha.