About

Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkien

About me

“Where are you from?”

My friends laugh when they hear somebody asking me this question, as it opens a Pandora’s box. My dad, mum and sister were born in 3 different countries (Italy, Morocco and France respectively, although my sister is now Australian and living in Switzerland). I grew up, studied, worked and lived in all the countries listed on this website, and keep traveling.

Why, how? I didn’t wake up one day with the idea of exploring the world… I was born that way. Wanderlust is genetic, it runs in the family. My father was a marine officer (then a geologist, because consistency also runs in the family), so I grew up following my parents in a variety of countries, in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Since my family is like a small United Nations, it was only natural for me to start working with the UN after graduating from university, and thus continuing my nomadic life. My first UN job was with FAO in Kenya, and after just one week I realized I was ready for retirement. My mind couldn’t compute the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 lifestyle. “Your lunchtime is at 1pm”, but hey I’m hungry at 12h?! “You have to dress up with a jacket and tie”, but hey it’s scorching hot outside?! “You have to be in the office at 9am”, but hey I jiggy-jiggyed until 2AM last night?

You know the axiom, “no work=no money”. So, I had no choice: I kept working, but with the clear intent of retiring at 40. I only applied for overpaid jobs, in the harshest environments possible, where skilled staff are hard to find, and the allowances are the highest. Fourth-world countries, civil war, terrorism, raped kids, hostages crisis, I’m all in! For example, I worked in Angola during the civil war, managing a project against trafficking in minors for sexual purposes. Then, other opportunities arose: “Would you like to monitor a similar project in Nigeria”? OK no problem! “Oh by the way could you also check out the situation in the Edo State, it’s not safe but we will provide an armed escort”? OK no problem! “Oops sorry no armed escort available but just go by yourself and we’ll discuss later”… OK no problem!

Despite earning a lot and saving like crazy (by living below my means), in my mid-30s I realized I would never save enough money to ensure financial independence at age 40. So, while managing a large SME fund in Ghana, I started studying the topic seriously. Not the theoretical BS taught by college professors, but real-life advice from streetwise gurus. I set up a digital library of about 3000 E-books, audio-books and videos on a variety of topics, mainly wealth building (business, real estate, trading etc.), but also general self-development (time management, goals settings etc.), health (fitness, nutrition etc.) and relationships (both for personal and business purposes). I started with speed reading and accelerated learning, and blasted my way through almost 2000 books in a 5-year period (the “Pareto” years). The wealth of information I learnt from these training materials was staggering! Who knew how to participate to real estate liens auctions? Buy structured ETF to benefit from bear markets without the limitations of short-selling? Legally establish personal residency in countries where foreign income is not taxed?

Upon retiring on 1st May 2013, at the ripe age of 39, I had already started the diversification process, mainly through online trading and real estate investments (vacation rentals, what else!), and the creation of multiple streams of passive income. This ultimately led to my ideal lifestyle, one which doesn’t require my presence.


“YOU’RE CRAZY!”

I heard this one countless times, in all languages, in all countries. You’re crazy, tu es fou, sei matto, boang, điên, thing thong, loco!

Well yes, if being normal means living an unhappy life until finally retiring at age 70 and dying shortly thereafter, then I am crazy. Real madness for me has different meanings, for example spending your life in a 9-to-5 cubicle, doing things you don’t like with people you don’t want to meet; or, blowing yourself up in the name of a beardy ethereal entity.

When confronted with the “You’re crazy!” line, I reframe it as a compliment and graciously thank my interlocutors. What they were trying to say was “Your thinking is really different, we do not understand it yet but would certainly be grateful if you could teach us more about it, when we will be ready to learn”.

So beware, once you leave the beaten path, you will hear that line a lot, especially from the people who love you the most. They are just trying to protect you (and somewhat protect themselves, so if things go wrong they will be able to say “I TOLD YOU!”), as they are unaware of the fact that being “crazy” is a necessary requirement to achieve superior results: if you do what everybody else is doing, you will end up with their same unsatisfactory outcomes.

I realize there are easier paths to financial success, which do not require the “craziness” of working in war zones and studying thousands of books: many of you are certainly smarter than me, and might just develop an app from your parents’ comfy California villa, submit your idea to a venture capitalist living down the street and become an instant millionaire. That was not my case: I chose a hard road, who took many years of sustained effort, because I didn’t know any better. And I would do it all again: independently from the financial gains, the real benefit is the set of skills I learnt – something even more valuable than the money itself. And the end result of waking up in the morning whenever/wherever I want, and meeting whoever I want to do whatever I want, is absolutely PRICELESS.

Working in such “crazy” environments also allowed me to visit places normally inaccessible to normal tourists. It is true that traveling is not about discovering new destinations, but seeing with new eyes. It changes you, and allows you to live many different lives… from a white kid growing up in Africa, to real estate investor in the Caribbean, trekker in the Patagonian wilderness, “toy boy” in Shanghai, credit facility manager in Ghana, stock exchange trader in the US, writer/publisher of illusionism books in Canada, museum buff in Venice, disaster relief consultant in Pakistan, public speaker in Vietnam, radio show co-host in Italy, and, as I write this introduction, travel blogger in Thailand.

About the travel blog

So, the LifeTour travel blog. For each destination I lived in, I selected some of my best video clips and pictures (these were not meant to be showcased in a website, until recently all pictures and movies were only shared with family and friends). I then added my opinionated reviews.

I try to experience countries in an holistic manner, from local fauna to natural landscapes, historical sites and monuments, artistic exhibitions, culinary delights etc. The only exception would be nightlife: I don’t smoke, don’t drink and don’t do drugs, so don’t feel the need to go to noisy dark places selling overpriced drinks on weekend nights and “party” to forget about my weekdays. Instead, I strive to make my weekdays awesome.

For each destination, you will see some self-explanatory thumbs up / thumbs down ratings:

I separated the ratings for “Living” and “Visiting”, because it is very different to briefly visit a destination for sightseeing, and to actually live there! For example, the Salar de Ujuni is absolutely wonderful to explore, but living in that shanty desert town with no internet and no infrastructure is a no-no.

Here are some other icons you will encounter:

Green-Triangular

Must See: after over 2000 destinations visited worldwide, I am not easily impressed. If I tell you a place is a must-see, it is a must-see. Period.

Check out some of my favorite destinations here.

Red-Triangular

Must Avoid: Some places are just… bad. But your judgment will always depend on your previous experiences. For example, if you never saw the sea, the mere sight of a beach will amaze you – even if full of algae, stinky rubbish and hoards of Arab youngsters blasting loud music from their car stereos. Colin Farrell summarized this concept in the hilarious movie “In Bruges”: “If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me”.

Check out some of my worst travel experiences here.

i-1-TOURIST-TRAP

Tourist Traps: in such commercial destinations, you will need to be aware of your surroundings, or be ready to shell out a lot of cash. Examples would be Venice and Machu Picchu.

i-2-RETARDED-BACKPACKER

Retarded Backpackers Awards: cheap, unusual destinations which attract backpackers, despite the lack of actual interest. Examples would be Ushuaia and Banos.

Meet the LifeTourists

While I am responsible for all texts, movies and pictures, the following staff were instrumental in putting it all together in a timely manner. A big thank you to all of them!

15000+
Days on the Road
67
Countries Visited
1000+
Hotels Booked
1000+
Flights Booked
O
Drinks Taken

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

“FAQ”, I love to say swear words with the excuse of saying something else, and without having to fake the La Tourette syndrome: for example, my favorite animals are seals (translated in French, “phoque”, pronounced “fok”). So many hilarious possibilities while trekking in Tierra del Fuego! “This seal is so big, it’s a fat phoque”, or “this seal seems unhealthy, it’s a sick phoque”…

Feel free to add any questions, comments and suggestions on the comment form below (in any language). Are you “crazy” as well? What is your personal experience? How do you finance your trips?

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Jon

Love your site! I want to make one just like it in 2018.