The Joy Of Becoming Unsettled - Trek Light Gear

The Joy Of Becoming Unsettled

One year ago I made a last-minute decision to head off to Argentina to live and work for a month in Buenos Aires. Here's a look back on what I learned about the joy of becoming Unsettled: 

un·set·tled (adjective):

  1. lacking stability
  2. worried and uneasy
  3. liable to change, unpredictable
  4. not yet resolved

November 2016 wasn't a normal month in my life.

It was a life-changing, battery charging month filled with discovery, introspection, growth, and love.

I lived for 30 days in a continent I had never been to before. I formed lifelong friendships with people from nearly 20 different countries around the world. For these and so many reasons it was a month that I'll never forget, but here's the most amazing part: I wasn't on vacation, I was working.

Buenos Aires Street Corner

It was only a few weeks earlier that I had connected with the incredible founders of a young startup with the intriguing name of Unsettled.  I reached out to learn more, listened to their story, and quickly began to dream. 

The core premise of Unsettled is to give people the chance to "live and work anywhere, one month at a time".  The 'work' part is what makes the opportunity what it is because let's be honest, unless you're independently wealthy or have a job with an incredible vacation policy the idea of a full month off the grid in a beautiful destination is likely an elusive dream. It certainly was for me.

The Unsettled program solves the work/life problem by including everything you need to work remotely as if you were right at home - a private apartment or shared suite with WiFi, a SIM card for your phone if you need it, and daily access to a fully equipped co-working space with high-speed internet, conference rooms, and most importantly, all the coffee you can drink. (Or in my case, the start of a lifelong addiction to cortados - thank you Argentina)

Being spontaneous is something you can do as a business owner: Leave the office early to go to happy hour. Take a day off when you need a mental health break.

But, move to Buenos Aires for a month?

That's never been in the cards for me as a small business owner of a physical product brand with a small staff and a constant feeling of needing to be present to be efficient. 

And yet somehow - a few short weeks after my phone call with Unsettled, I found myself riding in a cab from the Buenos Aires airport heading to my new home for the next month.

And that's when I started to sweat. Big time.

Let me be clear: I love adventures, I love travel, I love meeting new people - and getting out of the country for a full month was a dream I had been pushing back ever since I started a small business 15 years ago. 

But, as I rode in the cab it became obvious that my rusty Spanish wasn't enough to understand anything my driver was saying to me. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It was too fast, dripping with the accent and thickness of a lifelong native that you never experience when you study a language in a classroom. I made several attempts to simplify the conversation and find common ground and so did he, but the worldly conversation I had looked forward to the entire flight was instead replaced with an hour-long silence.

I got to my apartment and went for a walk to ease the anxious feeling I had, but instead of making me feel better the language barrier became more apparent with every minute I explored.

Hunger kicked in and so I decided to focus my nervous energy on getting my first meal. And I quickly realized that every menu I encountered was also filled with words my rusty vocabulary had long since forgotten. I had this burning desire to not screw up my first meal in Argentina, but I realized what was happening - I was walking around this incredible new city looking for the least intimidating option, and that isn't like me at all.

So I decided to do what I'd do if I was traveling anywhere else and looking for the best food - ask a local.

I practiced the question in my head over and over, found the friendliest face I could and felt a huge relief as the question came out exactly like I intended and was met with recognition.

And one second later that relief went right out the window as I heard how fast and unintelligible the response was.

I didn't stand a chance.
And that's when a wave of panic set in.

Asking questions is one of the great joys of travel, but I wasn't at all prepared to not understand the answers.

Buenos Aires Street Art

Here I was alone, facing a much stronger than expected language barrier, and realizing that for some crazy reason I had taken the first opportunity I'd had to really travel in years - and I chose to make it stressful?

I chose to live in a massive city when my happy place is almost always surrounded by nature and outdoor adventures?

The surge of panic kicked in even harder and I'll honestly never forget those moments of fear, doubt and intense introspection as long as I live.

Sure I love to travel, but how did I confuse getting outside of my comfort zone with adventure?

Was this all a huge mistake?

And then all of a sudden, like a storm, the panic passed.

Anxiety turned into adrenaline and then excitement as my whole body and soul remembered something I had somehow forgotten in those few short hours after I landed:

Being lost and overwhelmed and on your own is exactly what makes us who we are. And it always leads to our finest chapters in life.

Think back to your first days of school as a young kid. Your first day in college. The fears you have while falling in love, buying your first home, starting your own business, a new job or moving to a new town. 

Lacking stability. Worried and uneasy. Unpredictable. Not yet resolved.


I was there. And instantly I realized that was the whole damn point.

(If the Unsettled program was a futuristic game show and a million viewers at home had been watching me panic and listening in on my thoughts - this was the moment when the curtain would open and I'd realize that I had won.) 

I smiled. And at that moment, my brain was re-wired.

That fear and anxiety now had a name - Unsettled - and it led to joy and not panic.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very real, authentic anxiety and panic that comes in those moments and it can be scary as hell. But it's that exact same fear and instability that reminds you that you're not in the same place doing the same thing you were yesterday.

You realize in those moments you know nothing about what's to come and that means you get to evolve, adapt, and learn new things about yourself and the world around you every day.

Being unsettled is what opens the door to change. And change, not repetitiveness, is the greatest part of life's journey.

Over the next 30 days, I embraced the notion of getting outside of my routine every chance I got.

I walked everywhere I could, and I walked a different way every time. I worked from coffee shops and busy bars, and I practiced my Spanish by not being afraid to fail.

I took my very first Yoga class (in Spanish no less), attended a meditation workshop, and made sure that I said Yes to everything that felt outside of my normal routine. 

I discovered that working remotely actually made me work harder on my business and made me more productive. I laid the groundwork for exciting things to come for Trek Light Gear - and I did it all while checking things off my bucket list, undergoing intense personal growth and experiencing the joys of travel and exploration at the same time.

That's a hell of a way to spend a single month working - and different from anything I've ever experienced in my life to date.

Buenos Aires Panorama


Stability Or Unpredictability? Choose Both

Routine and comfort are noble aspirations and there's absolutely nothing wrong with finding your comfort zone or seeking stability in your life. Plan ahead, be smart about your future and don't leave everything to chance.

But, I'm here to tell you that there is life-changing joy and transformation to be found in unsettling yourself regularly.

Even your good habits need to be shaken up and stepped away from - that's where real growth comes. 

If you're reading this and thinking that it's not feasible for you to spend a month in another country whether it's because of finances, family, or your job just wouldn't allow it - that's perfectly fine.

You don't have to go to a foreign country to get unsettled (but I can tell you it certainly helps).

If you can't take part in a program like Unsettled, what you can do right now is to take just one month out of every year, one month out of 11 others just like it, and live completely differently.

Attend new clubs or meetups and surround yourself with people you don't know, spend a month taking public transportation or biking instead of driving to work. Be a month-long vegetarian, start a journal, do an open-mic once a week or anything else that makes you feel more than a little scared and uneasy. 

Unplug the TV, hide the phone, and force yourself to figure out what you would do every night for a month if you didn't have either. Go be a tourist in your own state and if you're already an extrovert then spend a month being less social and discovering yourself, reading more and meditating.

Don't just do one thing differently, do several and flip your normal routine upside down.

Bring unpredictability back into your life and embrace the outcome.
For one month.

When you're done, I promise you'll be a different person and a better person.

That's the joy of becoming unsettled.

It's Time For You To Get Unsettled

Are you interested in the Unsettled experience I took part in?

First, here's a great video you should watch that was filmed while I was in Buenos Aires - look at that sweet hammock!


(Awesome side-note: The video above was filmed and produced by Wayne Culpepper at Wayne Wandering. Wayne and I met in Argentina and a few months later he was helping Trek Light Gear bring the amazing David Cross Hammock Hero videos to life - living proof that Unsettled works!)

The Unsettled team is now running month-long experiences in a growing number of incredible locations around the world: Cape Town, Bali, Morocco, Peru, Medellin, Barcelona, and more.

They're also now offering online workshops and groups designed to help you go through the same soul-searching and connections you might find when traveling without having to leave the country to do it. 

Here's the best part:

I was able to get the good folks at Unsettled to allow me to offer you a $150 discount off your trip as a special thank you for being part of the TLG community.

If you're feeling the pull (and trust me you should be), all you have to do is click the link below and use the code FRIENDSOFUNSETTLED when you book a trip.

I'd tell you to think about it, but if you read this far it means you already belong. Just sign up, dive into the unknown and don't look back.

Get Unsettled 

If you've got questions about my experience in Buenos Aires or the Unsettled program itself, ask me in the comments!

Back to blog