About

My Life Before Traveling through Latin America

It was a late Saturday afternoon in May of 2009 and I was sitting on my porch in San Diego. With a cold beer in hand, I kicked back to watch the sun-kissed hotties jog along Mission Bay as the sun dropped down into the Pacific. From the outside looking in, this was a great life. The only problem was, my mind was too fixed on meeting deadlines and reaching numbers to enjoy it. In one of the liveliest cities in the world, I had never felt so life-less.

Exams in Southern California had just finished and I had spent the last 3 months busting my ass between Buffalo, Salt Lake City and Long Beach to buy back as many textbooks as possible. I was the Director of Marketing for a successful college textbook company, and this had been my life since my sophomore year in college. Within that time, I learned a lot about business and marketing, but most importantly I learned that I was living someone else’s dream. I was pouring my soul into something I didn’t love.

It wasn’t until that Saturday afternoon, when the beer lost its taste and the view lost its inspiration, that it hit me. It was at that moment that I realized if I’m not happy with myself, it doesn’t matter where I live. It was time to start writing my own story.

After 6 years of constant work and chaos, it was time to start chasing my own legend.

I left work the following Monday and had a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina by Wednesday night. I had no idea what I was doing, but my passion for travel and search for substance guided me.

 

———————– The Tourist 2 Townie Experience ———————–

 

Exploring Colombia's Countryside in Cisneros, Antioquia outside Medellin, ColombiaI decided to create Tourist2Townie.com

To connect with like-minded dream chasers, share unique travel adventures and provide inspiration and advice for regular people who wish to do remarkable things. This site is more of a social experiment and lifestyle design than it is a travel blog. It’s about people more than it is about places.  It’s about chasing dreams rather than following the norm.

My goal is to explore the world by going beyond typical travel experiences. I want to see exactly what it takes to become part of a foreign community and to truly understand a place through the people and culture that define it.

To help me accomplish this goal I created the list, which includes 6 life-changing missions that I’ve always dreamed of.  While, I have no set plan on exactly how I will complete these tasks, I have a feeling I’ll make some good friends and great memories along the way. Come with me…

 

———————– My Definition of a Tourist and Townie ———————–

 

With my plan to transform from tourist to townie I should probably share my definitions of the two:

The Tourist – Someone who sees the sites, eats the food and gains a broad understanding of the layout of a particular place. I have been a tourist before and its nowhere near as much fun as being a local. Tourists tell you all about their trip while they rarely step off the tour bus or outside their hostel crew. Tourists you can spot coming from a mile away. A tourist is loud, annoying and lost.

 

 

The Townie – A local. A regular. Someone who has been around since everybody else can remember. They have their own seat at the bar and the waitress always asks them if he’ll have “the usual”. He’s the guy who can tell you stories about “the good ‘ol days” and will never let you forget where he came from. I townie is knowledgeable, connected and smooth.

 Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Latin America?

I first came down to Buenos Aires, Argentina based on very weird omens I kept seeing everywhere. True story. However, I continue to explore South America because after a year in Argentina I became infatuated with everything about this continent. The culture, the turmoil, the language, the food, the dancing, the women… the women. Plus, it’s cheaper than traveling to Europe.

Who will benefit most from following Tourist2Townie.com?

This site is dedicated to anyone looking to do more with their life. I’m not saying everyone should travel the world, I’m just saying everyone should pursue happiness and love what they do everyday. In particular, I hope the travel info and my personal experiences help expats, study abroad students and volunteers who plan on spending  an extended period of time in South America and want content beyond popular tourist photos and backpacker hang-outs.

What are your major life dreams/aspirations?

Besides love, knowledge and financial freedom, I have 14 major, tangible aspirations. T2T will focus on the first 8 (to begin with). check out the list for more details.

  1. Live in a foreign country for at least 1 year.
  2. Learn to speak (fluently) in a second language.
  3. Learn to salsa dance like a latin heartthrob.
  4. Complete a “Great American Road Trip”.
  5. Learn to cook like a chef.
  6. Help a specific cause.
  7. Become versed in a martial art.
  8. Work at the World Cup.
  9. Learn to play an instrument (guitar and/or piano).
  10. Sail the Mediterranean.
  11. Heliskiing in British Colombia or Swiss Alps
  12. Motorcycle across a country.
  13. Build a successful business (that doesn’t run my life).
  14. Be applauded by more than 1,000 people.

Who do you think will win the World Cup?

If you didn’t know it already the FIFA World Cup is being staged in Brazil this summer. It’s a really big deal as not only is soccer something of a national obsession here, but also Brazil is known around the world as soccer’s spiritual home. There are a lot of great teams competing, including World Cup winners Spain, the always threatening Germany and Argentina that have the famous Lionel Messi. However I’m going to pick Brazil, partly because I love the country, partly because they have a great team including Neymar but also the entire Brazilian nation, and I don’t mean that figuratively, will be supporting the seleção (the national team nickname). I can’t be too wrong as according to this betting site Brazil are indeed the favorites; maybe I should become a professional gambler! Regardless of who wins this World Cup is sure to be an absolutely unforgettable experience for all those involved. Vai, Brasil!

How do you finance your travel?

Right now marketing consulting is my main source of income. I’ve worked with Spanish learning programs, medical tourism sites and other textbook companies. I also offer advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the site to help support my travel vices. My slow, long-term travel strategy also helps me keep costs down by staying in apartments instead of hotels/hostels and grocery shopping instead of eating out on the regular.

What’s your dream job?

If a travel show or “Hawaiian Tropics lotion boy” isn’t in the cards, I would love to start something like Room to Read or Toms. My dream would be to to create an organization that is both highly profitable and socially relevant.

Where have you been besides South America?

I had the opportunity to study in London when I was a Junior in College, which allowed me to see a lot of Western Europe. These were the adventures that sparked my interest to travel deeper. I went cliff diving in Wales, got lost in Barcelona, spent Christmas at the Vatican in Rome, went skiing in the Swiss Alps, made bad decisions in Amsterdam and had a 10-day romantic rendezvous with my tour guide in the Greek Islands (which I almost didn’t return from).

What’s your biggest fear?

Being average.

 

 

ASK ME ANYTHING BELOW

 

80 Responses to About

  1. Danielle Derouin

    Good job Gareth! The new site looks great! I check out your blog every couple of weeks and I must admit I’m quite envious! Take care and safe travels!

    Danielle

  2. Jon Brandt

    Hey Gareth,
    The new site looks awesome! I wish I had your skill and/or know-how for piecing together a nice project like this. But you’ve also got good content which is the most important part. Tip of the hat. Keep up the good work and good luck.

    Jon

  3. Gareth

    Thanks Jon, we should talk soon about the BA Cast partnership. Keep living the dream in Buenos Aires.

  4. Stephanie Sadler

    Love the new look. Well done! :)

  5. The website looks really good. Well done Gareth!

  6. Congrats buddy, chase your dreams and live them with passion ; )

  7. It’s almost creepy how similar your story is to mine. I live in San Diego… last fall I realized that I need something more…something different. I crave (in a very big way) solo travel, adventure, challenge. By way of certain signs and messages (you call them omens) I chose BA as my next city of residence (Or I guess I should say… BA chose me!). I just bought my one way ticket a few weeks ago. I’ve never traveled outside of the USA (besides Tijuana and one trip to Ensenada) in my life. I arrive in BA November 16. We even share a few of the same life goals! :D If you’re still in BA in November I hope we can meet for a glass of wine. Cheers! -Tiffany

  8. Gareth

    That’s crazy Tiffany, I’m actually hoping to get back to Buenos Aires in November for a wedding so I’ll definitely take you up on that if it all works out. Good luck on your new adventure and if you need anything don’t hesitate to ask… you’re going to love it!

  9. great to meet you and hang out during TBEX gareth! this truly is an awesome “about.” look forward to keeping in touch & cheering you on toward these fab goals :)

  10. Hey!! I loved your story..I’m feeling the same as you did before. I’m from Buenos Aires…we’re neighbors!! I hope we can chat sometime and exchange opinions on this beautiful city :)

    Lala

  11. hey just stumbled onto your site and its AMAZING! so inspiring! just got back from bolivia and I’m addicted to latin america…can’t wait to hear more of your travels!
    -okie from muskogee :)

  12. I love your site. The navigation at the top drives me nuts though, I can’t see what I want to chose b/c they are so dark when not selected or hovering. Just a suggestion.

  13. Gareth, when you say marketing consulting, like offline or online, do you mean for SEO? I would love to see your site. I want to make the transition to a location independent business but having a problem finding my niche. I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me. Love the site and keep up the great work

  14. I am going to Buenas Aires to study for 3 months. What are some tips that you can give me to make the experience a more “townie” and are the average women as beautiful as I hear?

    Thanks (and your blog is awesome)

    • Gareth

      Thanks Arthur, you’ll have a great opportunity to surround yourself with locals while you study so take advantage of it. And yes, Argentine women are beautiful. Bring mate to any park and enjoy the show!

  15. Love the site, love the concept. I look forward to keeping up with your townie adventures!

  16. Hey Garreth!
    I find your story really inspiring. After seeing what you did, I was really motivated to go out there and make my own adventure. I will be volunteering in Buenos Aires this April. Do you have tips, places to visit, and things to do there? Thanks.

    • Gareth

      Awesome Lilibeth! There is so much to do and see in Buenos Aires. Start with the meat, fernet, futbol and nightlife, and go from there. Email me if you have any specific Qs. Have Fun!

  17. Dude, you’re like an inspiration! I’m from Argentina, but a few years back I had to move to the USA (I’m currently living) and after all this years, I find it hard to adapt and wanting Argentina back in my life LOL. But I guess one of my goals is to leave USA knowing I did everything I could to get to know this culture and the people! I always wanted to go to California, to see things from the other side of the coast and I think you really inspired me to do this trip, before leaving the USA!

    • Gareth

      Sick! You’re a townie in the States! I can definitely understand how you could miss Argentina. Are you moving back to Argentina? Let me know how the Cali trip goes.

  18. Do you have to worry about permits and visas when living in other countries? I think one of the hardest parts is figuring out a way to sustain a chosen lifestyle in another country. For those of us who aren’t able to consult for a particular field, do you have any advice for making ends meet?

    • Gareth

      Hey Andrew, permits and visas are something you have to plan around but nothing to worry about. For example, Argentina you could just jump over to Uruguay and in Colombia you could go to the DAS office to renew it. There’s always a way. Best thing to do is to talk to expats who have done it before.
      As far as work goes, find something you’re good at or enjoy doing like teaching, coaching, writing, bartending, etc and then find people who do the same.

  19. Hey Gareth, I just visited Medellin for the first time last February and I decided to check for other peoples’ videos on Youtube and came across yours. I then got the link to your Youtube page and your site. You are a great inspiration for many people. I’ve been to Mexico a few times, but now you’ve reminded me why i’m living, kinda. I forgot. I look foward to following your adventures.
    Robby

  20. Gareth,
    What a refreshing site! Thanks. I’m researching a tv documentary series for the UK and looking for inspiring Brits who live in Buenos Aires who may have moved there to follow their dreams, follow their hearts or just follow a whim. Maybe you’ve come across some of these British townies? Maybe you we can talk – I think you’d be inspirational to watch.

    • Gareth

      I think I know a few guys Georgie, I’ll get in touch with them. Sounds like a great project. Let me know when you’re scouting for an American to base a show around…

  21. Love your site! I will take inspiration from you. I can’t wait to make my own way to South America :-)

  22. I am inspired. I am planning to visit Central America in May and stumbled across your site while researching for places to go in Columbia. Keep up with the good work!!!

  23. I love your take on slow travel. I’ll be a tourist through western Europe for the summer, but hopefully i’ll be able to get a student visa for Spain for a few months afterwards and be able to settle into the life a little more and discover more of the local culture during that time.

    • Gareth

      I like the sound of that Jared. I would love to set up a Tourist 2 Townie mission in Spain… or maybe just move there permanently. I have only been to Barcelona and I fell in love. Have a blast!

  24. Very interesting and helpful blog. Have you ever thought of passing by my country, Philippines? :-)

  25. Gareth, I’m not going to say how I stumbled across your blog, but let’s just say I’m a firm believer in “happy accidents”. It is a true “respiro del aire fresca y libre”! Upon returning to the states from my recent trip to Brazil, I’ve been left with a longing to climb out of the corporate life I lead here and plunge into one of unknowing fulfillment. In a nutshell, reading your blog makes me realize it can and will be done. Thank you, obrigada, mil gracias!

    • Gareth

      Brieanna, thank you so much for the kind words. Tell me everything I need to know about Brazil! I’m hoping to make that my next adventure destination. In other news, make the jump!

  26. Holy how is what you’ve done real? What would you say separates something from, say, a dream-disaster & a dream-doin-this-for-real? I mean is it means for funds, skill, unyielding belief. …Please don’t say one of those. Hey-good luck working at the Brazil WC. Should be crazy.

    • Gareth

      Haha, thank you Barbara, it has been a fun ride thus far! Hopefully, over time, this will be a means for funds, as well as continue to be my means for happiness!

  27. i just found your site when looking up stuff to do in Salta and was really drawn to and inspired by what you did and what you’re all about! That is awesome! I feel like if you ask most people what they really would love to do in life, most would list the same first 6 things you listed (maybe in a diff order, but still!) but they probably wouldn’t ever get around to checking any of them off. SO, that is what makes what you’re doing so remarkable – you’re actually walking the walk! Also, I love that your greatest fear is “being average” — I can totally relate. :)

    • Gareth

      It scares me every single day Diana. : ) Thank you so much for the commenting, and for the kind words. I think everyone should take the leap and chase their dreams, no matter how big or small! I know it’s not possible for some people, but to so many, it is, and they let fear or excuses stop them… I’m learning myself.

  28. I love your website, found it while googling “pablo escobar tour Medellin” ;-) We run an organic farm in Colombia, welcome any time!

    • Gareth

      Thank you Floor! I promise, I have no connection to him. : ) I am dying to get back to Medellin this Spring and when I do, I will definitely contact you about visiting your farm.

  29. Adorei o site, muito bacana a ideia. Quero começar logo a conhecer novos lugares. E como diz meu amigo AVENTURE-SE SEMPRE ! Esse é meu lema !

  30. Wow Gareth. I am in the process of starting my blog doing pretty much the same as you are. We seem to have like-minds where your aspirations are concerned. A lot of fear has surfaced but I can’t allow that to stop me (big smiles). Keep up the great work. I will definitely be following your blog as inspiration. Thanks so much for your courage and tenacity.

  31. Your biggest fear…being average – I like that and can totally relate to it!

    I’ve stopped trying to resist the urge to go and explore the (Latin American) world a while ago. Yes I’ve already travelled 6 months in Central America this year but I just have to go back even after only being back home a couple of months. Not exactly the Swiss way…but my way – Argentina is next!

    Thanks for your blog…I like the idea and hopefully I’ll find some good insider tips about Argentina :).

    Happy travelling…be safe!

    • Gareth

      Doing things your way, I love it! 6 months in Central America? I’m jealous, I need to get there ASAP! If you ever need any insider info on Argentina, don’t hesitate to ask.

  32. I am traveling to Argentina/Uruguay in March. Since it will be my first time in South America and I’ll be alone… I’ve been looking at different sites to help me out. Yours is by far the most interesting and helpful! I love traveling and hope to make what you are doing more of a reality and lifestyle for me!! I look forward to exploring your blog more!

    • Gareth

      Hey Nastja, send me a private email via the contact page and I will give you a ton of information about traveling to Argentina/Uruguay on your own. Anything you need, I’m here. P.S. You are going to have the time of your life.

  33. However well intentioned you are, you seem to be on a journey that seeks to fill a certain hunger, a void; one that is largely met with the self-centered pursuit of happiness. Truth is, the more we forget ourselves and seek to serve our fellow men, the more we find ourselves and that inner contentment that you appeared to be missing prior to setting out on this journey. Forgive my candour; I hope it doesn’t betray my intent – I genuinely hope you find what you are after and are able to meaningfully contribute to the world we live in. A socially minded business is perhaps a good start.

  34. I am so excited for you and your travels. I think that what you are doing is amazing. I too hope to travel South America at some point in my life.

  35. Just found your blog. Very interesting. Funny also because I’m from Venezuela and I’m now living in LA doing a Masters.

    Have you been to Venezuela? If not write to me, I could help you become a townie there.

    • Dude I love people like you, afraid of being average and settling for the norm, and breaking that by following your dreams. Your adventures seem awesome as hell and the best life experiences anyone could dream of. I wish I could do something similar after college and travel South America and Europe and just explore the world! Congrats, your an inspiration man!

      • Gareth

        Thank you Farhad, you have no idea how much that means to me. If you need any help planning your trip to South America, don’t hesitate to get in touch! All the best man!

    • Gareth

      I desperately want to get to Venezuela Juan. I feel like it gets such a bad rap in the media, and I would love to experience it’s true colors. Where are you from in Venezuela? When do you return from LA?

  36. im from school of the arts, and you were one of our gym teachers last week, cool website lol

  37. Just came across your site. My family and I are off to Peru next week and enjoyed seeing your photos and reading about your adventure to Machu PIcchu. Keep leaving the dream. Way to go!

  38. Hey Gareth !!

    I was doing some research for my 6 month trip to Ecuador coming up in 2015 when i came across your website. WOW ! Truly inspiring! I am also planning on traveling solo with hopes of becoming apart of the Ecuadorian community and help out, and of course to learn many things about life that is not revolved around gadgets. I want to get away for the materialistic and technological life. I want to enjoy the worlds goodness the real way!! Your adventure has given me another reason to go forth with my own adventure :).

  39. How do you pay for your travel?

  40. Hi!!
    This was a great post, from being in a football match to a coffee plantation!
    I wanted to ask you, if you happen to have the contact of this family or any other family around it? I am doing a project about coffee in Colombia and the importance for Colombians and I want to get in touch with a family. If you have that info it will be great and I will thank you forever. I would like to get more the local feeling, instead of going to where all the tourist go. Thanks a lot!

    Mariana

  41. Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle…I have a male twin apparently. I applaud your work and your travels and I definitely think the world needs more people willing to ditch the proverbial “Status quo” and follow their dreams, not their comfort zones. I’m also an expat that works independently and lives in the Caribbean. Sailing the Med is great! The Cyclades are an absolute must, but don’t over look the Turkish Rivera. I also highly recommend trying the heliskiing in the Austrian Alps, Tyrol to be specific.

    Keep living your dream!

    A

  42. I met you in Sucre when we shared a Gringos Rincon bunk room while you searched for an apartment. !Weeks, maybe months later, when I traveled back through Sucre, I was able to see the Book Fair in the plaza. Loved hearing then about your time in Argentina as well as your plans ultimately for the World Cup. You are a man who has a plan and follows through! Good for you! Your travel reports are loads of fun to read!

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