A digital nomad, making money online while traveling the world, Raphael Alexander Zoren is a world traveler whose main goal is to explore all of the cultural and natural wonders that the world has to offer. He is also a very handsome Mexican!
Since leaving everything behind in 2012 he has hit over 141 cities, advises that you should buy as many souvenirs as possible, because, let’s face it, you’re never going to find a salt llama or an authentic Zapata sombrero back home; and travels with the goal of ticking items off his reverse bucket list.
Have no idea what a reverse bucket list is?! Read on to find out!
What do you love the most about travelling?
For me it’s all about the history and the culture of each particular place. I find it so amazing how people in Cambodia and Mexico managed to build similar Pyramid monuments such as the one in Egypt without having met at all!
Plus, the food. The food is always something to consider when you travel abroad. Especially when it comes to tacos.
What inspired you to start travelling?
It all started back in 2012 when I got tired of the empty and shallow priorities of the people that I was studying with in France. Weekend after weekend they would waste away their parent’s money on cheap booze and cigars.
I wanted something different. I wanted to break away from an average lifestyle. I wanted to travel the world and well, I haven’t stopped ever since.
What is “A Journey of Wonders” all about?
It started as my own personal online journal aimed at inspiring people from third-world countries like mine (Mexico) to travel the world in order to expand their horizons and see the wonders that exist beyond their backyard.
However, the moment I hit the publish button, I saw how more and more people began to follow my journey and get inspired by my stories regardless of where they come from originally.
Today, my readers are mostly Americans and Europeans who want to discover the many hidden wonders of the world with me!
Since starting to travel in 2012 you’ve hit 141 cities; which destinations have been a highlight?
To be honest, I stopped counting cities this year since I began to focus on slow traveling with cultural immersion.
If I had to choose one I would definitely say that the Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) is the most amazing natural sight ever to behold.
If I had to choose two; Bangkok to me represents everything that a modern day city should have: Culture, adventure, skyscrapers and yes, international cuisine.
How do you find time for all of this travel? Are you on the road full time or do you balance a career?
I have an online career as a freelance marketing consultant and web designer and I work mainly with tourism brands and other bloggers.
I know that the road to having a profitable work is long, so that’s why it’s very important to diversify your stream of income and revenues. So if anyone needs any help with how to market your blog, I’m your man!
How do you afford to travel – are you rich?!
I try to balance work with travel and I have a strict policy of never taking more than 6 monthly clients for my services as marketing consultant and web designer. The reason for that is because I don’t want to be tied to a computer during my travels, I want to life live to the fullest even though at the end of the month I’m just breaking even.
In case of a financial hardship, I can just use a safety net and crash at a friend’s place in a third-world country for a month or two while I take on more monthly clients. Trust me, the formula to being a successful digital nomad is easy once you get the hang of it!
Don’t overwork and don’t overspend. Easy as that.
Describe your travel personality.
I like to have a set plan of where I’m going to be in a certain period of time (example Morocco July 2014) and from there just winging it free spending as much time as I feel like spending in one particular place.
During my first months of travel I was a dreaded travel completionist and I wanted to see all the museums, all the churches and all the attractions of each city. Now, my style has changed for the better and I just focus on the one or two attractions that really interest me the most.
Plus, meeting new travellers on the road and engaging in cross-cultural experiences is always a good thing!
How has travel changed your life?
Travel has made me a more confident and compassionate person. Once you realize how small you are in the world, you can begin to comprehend how big changes a single person like you can make.
My story has inspired countless people to get rid of their chains and to follow their dream and that, for me, is the biggest prize of them all. Who cares about money or awards when you have beautifully crafted messages from readers all over the world telling you how you inspired them to take the leap?
Name the most remote location you have travelled to & a give us a travel tip for the destination.
Easter Island! My best tip? Buy sandwiches and snacks at the Santiago de Chile airport as all of the food is overpriced in this small tiny land.
Also, be sure to scuba dive to see the underwater Moai statue, it’s totally awesome!
One thing that you don’t like about travelling?
The dark side of traveling: smelly dorm rooms, snoring bunk mates, doing laundry, pickpockets, touts, and the fact that sometimes you cannot buy condoms after 3 am.
That surely is a deal killer!
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
Not sure about the biggest one, but the most recent one was at my Central American Journey of Wonders. I was shocked to know that people from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras are kind of hostile against Mexicans since we require them to apply for a visa in order to visit us.
I guess I know what Americans must feel like!
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
It was probably the time I was working on my laptop in the living room of the hostel late at night and this Australian couple began to swim in the pool naked! I didn’t know whether to leave and let my presence known or to just ignore them hoping they would eventually go away.
Long story short? Well, let’s just say I tried my best to use my earphones in order to avoid hearing their loud screams! Seriously, nothing ever good happens after 3 am!
Three things you can’t travel without?
My watch, my laptop and my travel necklace.
This is a very special necklace that I got on my last day of my student exchange in Canada back in 2010. It represents everything that travel should be a about: a circular journey where you are the center of it all.
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Funny that you say that because I actually have a reverse bucketlist. Instead of activities to do before I hit the bucket, I want to engage in activities that will put me at risk of kicking the bucket sooner than ever.
The one I’m most looking forwards to consist in taking the ultimate travel selfie at Mecca while grabbing the holy kebab.
I hope I won’t get beheaded afterwards!
Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?
Always have enough space for souvenirs and be sure to have a moderate budget for them. Yes, they take a lot of space and some of them are extremely tacky but hey, you will never find a salt llama or an authentic Zapata sombrero back home so here’s your chance!
Buy, buy, buy!
Why should people travel?
Because travel makes you a better person. You achieve a greater degree of empathy as you see the hardships that people all over the world have day by day. After each of my travels, I sit back to reflect how lucky I am to be born in the right time in the right place and yes, I feel extremely blessed to have a specific set of skills that allows me to work from anywhere.
It’s a sad reality that most people don’t travel simply because they really can’t.
What should people not miss in your home country of Mexico?
Definitely the Mayan Riviera. Sure, it’s filled with obnoxious people, both foreign and locals, but once you veer off-the-beaten path, you will find many natural and cultural wonders as well as underwater adventures and a very good dose of adrenaline.
Other good choices is the capital Mexico City and the Bajio region (Queretaro, Guanajuato, Guadalajara), a region filled with 100% Mexican culture and Tequila. Lots of Tequila.
You can enjoy my lengthy section about traveling in Mexico here and I hope you enjoy visiting my beautiful homeland!