First of all, I want you to feel welcome in my digital home. Mi casa es su casa, so make yourself feel right at home.
My name is Jonas Van Wezemael. I’m the adventurous person behind Digitraveler.
About 25 years ago, I was born in the concrete jungle known as Belgium. You may think that I was a born explorer. The truth is, aside from 6 weeks in Spain I spent every second of the first 23 years of my life in my home country.
But, that all changed after suffering a mental breakdown and finding myself on the wrong side of rock bottom. If you’re interested in my entire story, feel free to read all about it. You might recognize yourself in the same situation that I was.
My personality has been evolved obliviously throughout the years. Life-experience made me the person I’m today. And while I’m extremely bad in introduction myself, I’ll give it my best shot. Here I go..
I am the prototype of a local city boy… Or at least I was!
Growing up, my entire life took place within a radius of 6 miles. Can you believe this, only 6 tiny miles of this magnificent, enormous world? School, football and everything else I did, took place in my hometown, right at my feet. Since I lived in the centrum, I found everything I needed just a fart away from home.
For this reason, there isn’t that much to say about my youth. But I would like to think I had a better childhood than most kids these days. I was lucky enough to be able to make my own mistakes, since my parents gave me that freedom. That was something I desperately needed, and still need.
Most of my spare time and holidays I spent on the streets. Playing football with my friends; chasing after girls and playing some childish pranks. Actually, I had everything a little boy needed and did everything little boys love to do. While most kids where inside playing with their toys, I liked to climb trees and get dirty. I am happy to say that I still have that adventurous spirit inside me! Something I’m thankful for. People say that childhood is the most beautiful time, and I must agree. Being carefree, having no worries, just going to school and doing everything else that you love.
And I loved football a lot! I have played since I was 7 and I was so lucky to play with the best team I could ever imagine. I remembered our team winning 5 or 6 competitions in a row. Well, I believe that our connection with each other had something to do with that. We did the thing we loved the most 3 times a week and automatically built solid friendships that made us so strong that we could have broken through walls! In the 11 years we played together on the same team, and we won a lot and often beat a lot of better teams. When I look back now, that was a wonderful time in my life.
School was a whole other thing for me. I didn’t hate school but I just didn’t love it a lot. That was probably because I didn’t take the right classes. For some worthless reason, I stumbled into carpentry. To this day, that is only regret I have, that I didn’t follow the right path academically. If I had a time machine, and could turn back the hands of time, I would be a vet right now. And probably a very good one, as I love animals a lot. While I had a lot of connections at school, I only really bonded with a few people who I meet occasionally.
The older I got, the more everything seem to fall apart. I increasingly lost my connection with everything and everyone around me. I got lost in the system, yeah, you know how that goes. Careers, girlfriends and kids are driving each of us to our own direction. At first, I really struggled with this, as I had no real ambitions for a successful career. I always found jobs when I wanted them as I had the skills and knowledge to be a successful carpenter. My jobs, however, didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for. I also had a girlfriend for about 2 years, but I found out quickly that the relationship wouldn’t last long. I felt stuck in the relationship and felt that I had lost the thing that is most important to me, my freedom.
Well, yeah you could easily say that I had a miserable life, based on society’s views of success. Even though I had my own views on life and success, I could read the look on people’s faces, that they thought I was a loser. I couldn’t count how many times people told me to get a job, a girlfriend, a house or even a life! I don’t blame anyone for this behavior, it is just how we are raised.
Anyway, I did not feel like I fit in society anymore I wanted to do something meaningful with my time. Something worth doing that would give me real satisfaction. But I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it. Since I had no real idea, I began doing some self-reflection and began brainstorming about things that really make me really happy in life. Surprisingly I found several topics I really enjoyed quite fast. Those topics were animals/wildlife, travels, cultures, adventures and helping others. Yes indeed, these were all things that I could not really do in Belgium has no real career I could follow based on my new found interests. At best, I could volunteer but there were not really any good career prospects. So now, that I found out what I like, I had to find out what I was going to do now.
I came from a middle class family, and while I always everything I needed, I did not have enough money to get veterinary training. But I was still grateful for everything. And as you might know Belgium has become a concrete jungle now and doesn’t have any real nature anymore. So, getting a job that perfectly fits me with these topics wasn’t that easy. I tried though. I applied to every job that was related to wildlife, animals, nature or adventure in Belgium. One after another, I got rejected. I was either not qualified enough or did not have experience. Anyhow, there was always some reason I didn’t get the job. So, there I was, stuck between a world full of dreams and the sad reality.
I began to daydream more and more about wildlife and adventure. I’m glad I did, as the daydreaming was my first step on my journey. But it was not easy, after my daydreams, I fell back into the hard reality of life. And the same bullshit persisted, about going to get a job – well you know the story. I was desperately looking for a way to make my dreams become a reality. Easier said than done of course! I was wasting time that I did not have anymore. Honestly, I was almost leaving everything behind and starting to explore the world with debts and problems. But that would be running away, instead of living my dream.
I decided to stay and sort out all my issues and was intent on finding a solution for everything. I’m glad I did. Now I can travel with a free mind, without having to look back at all.
So now, while others get a job, get married and have children, I have freedom.
… And that’s all I ever wanted.
When I finally found my purpose in life, I made a commitment to my dreams that I will do everything within my power to make them happen. I want to realize few things in my journey around the world.
First of all, I will visit every country. I made this dream the center of my whole life project. As I have so many interests, but not a single passion outside travel I will handle a bunch of different topics during my way.
One of those topics will be culture. Therefore, I will stay at least 1 month in each country. To have enough time to get familiar with the habits and beliefs. It’s certainly not possible to get full picture of a tribe or country in just few days..
I’ve never taken the easy road in life and I don't plan on taking that road now on my journey. To make everything a bit more challenging I won’t use any flight at all. This way I can help out our planet also a bit. Also, traveling with an airplane is so impersonal. To me it’s not about the destination, but it’s about the journey to get there.
Yeah, this won’t be a walk in the park, but that’s exactly my goal. Where’s the challenge and adventure when everything goes easy?
It would be easy to say that I want to change the world. But then I would lie...
It’s quite simple, I am only heading on this adventure for myself. No matter how selfish this might sound, that’s just the way it is. I’ve already wasted enough time trying to fit in modern society. Now, it is time to live my own life and follow my own path. I live life as I want. Through this lifestyle, I hope to find freedom and happiness again.
Yet, there are some other important reasons why I do what I do: