While in Panama

Aaron Swinton

Aaron Swinton

Founder of MAVRKS.
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Wow this place is dope. To be honest this has been my first time doing a “big-boy trip.” I’ve been out of the country before but never have I ventured anywhere alone for nearly 2 months, not knowing the native language, living with a family that I have never met before, while trying to survive on a strict budget.. but who has?? The city has shown me amazing things about people, diversity of life and a totally new culture. Extended stays in a foreign country can truly be a life-changing experience.

The beautiful thing about trips like this is that when you first get here it feels as though your back is on against the wall. In some sense it is because the only thing you can truly rely on is yourself, and if you mess up you can die…… Sike nah!! It’s really not that deep. While you can end up sleeping in a sketchy hotel for a night your life is really not in danger at all.

Anyways, enough with my spiel. I wanted to give ya’ll some quick takeaways about some things that I have learned and reflected upon. These takeaways do not only apply to traveling but to anything that takes some guts to go out and do. Here are 4:

When there’s a will, there’s a way

Yo, I am broke AF. I am not some Instagram star making money for travelling and trying to sell my new hair products with my pictures, I am an ordinary traveler scrapping for pennies and eating hot dogs for dinner. When I planned this trip I was a dead broke college student just like many of ya’ll. So how did I make this happen? By making it happen. I spent countless hours looking for flights researching places to intern. I missed nights out and even dinners just to save every single penny I had to fund this trip. While everyone told me I was crazy to try and make this happen, I kept pushing. It takes time and research but with persistence you will definitely be able to find deals to save money during planning a trip. So if someone like me can do it, you can too. All it takes is a serious WANT and a willingness to DO.

Loneliness and Boredom as a Tool

 If you are traveling by yourself there is no doubt that you are going to get lonely and bored. The question is what are you going to do about it? You had the nuts to pack up and go on a trip by yourself, so muster up some more nuts to go out on a limb to explore and meet people. Uncomfortability is a sign of progression. So embrace it and ball out. This is in no way easy, but it is definitely gratifying when you make connections with people from different parts of the world, or simply see the most beautiful view in your life. When you’re away you can’t just call up a friend and ask them to hang out with you, so instead of sitting there on the couch scrolling through your Twitter feed take a step out and discover. You’d be surprised with what you find.

People are People

 While walking around and living among these people, something that became really apparent to me is that these are REAL people. Let me explain myself. Instead of posting up at a resort with cucumbers on my eyes and free Wifi, I am living among these folks going about my life day-to-day the same way they are. I am experiencing the same gratifying moments as well as the same hardships that these people face on a daily basis. This has truly blessed me with an opportunity to see these people as people and not just think of them as outsiders of my country. The reality is, while people around the world have extreme differences such as appearance and culture, we all are really the same at the end of the day.


 Invest in yourself. Trips like this are no doubt going to cost you some money, but there aren’t many things in your life more important than yourself. On trips like these you are not learning about financial statements or the circumference of a rock, you are learning about something much more important: LIFE. We are taught to relentlessly chase all of the accolades, certificates, and degrees we want; but are you investing in what actually matters? Knowledge is no doubt power, but to have knowledge without first having context about real life is a dangerous mixture.

 Too many times in life we have unfulfilled dreams. Whether it be obsessing about taking that trip to the country you’ve always wanted to go to, starting a new business venture, or facing a fear and taking that chance you always wanted to take. We seem to always find the perfectly timed excuse, “I don’t have enough money”, “I don’t know anybody over there”, “I’m scared”. Simply put, If you want to do it, you will. This may seem a little harsh but this is the truth. No, not everyone has the luxury of disposable income, but there are ways to get around without being loaded. Yeah, you might not arrive and have the same luxuries that you see on HGTV, but you will attain an experience that is exponentially more valuable.