Want to be a part of a reality show that you can influence? Just hop onto Bjorn Troch’s website, The Social Traveler, and you can have a say in what he does while he travels the world.
Troch, a communications major originally from Belgium, first had the idea to become a social traveler while he was a consultant for social network start-up companies.
“ I love being social, I have experience in social networks and I wanted to travel,” he says.
He decided to combine all three and started planning his epic journey gradually, talking with friends on-line and allowing his family to get used to the idea. Soon he had a small on-line support network.
“ It became easier as more people came on-board,” he says.
He started with walking the entire Camino de Santiago, where he will end his journey.
After the Camino, he drew a trajectory of travel around the world and began his voyage. He made only two rules for himself: he was not allowed to use search engines, and no guidebooks. This would force him to rely on people to get around. This ties in with one of Troch’s goals for this trip — he wants to live by example, showing it’s not bad or dangerous to talk to strangers.
“ We should give everyone a chance by creating a platform to be social. It’s just common sense, and we shouldn’t be afraid,” he says.
People are proud to share their knowledge and want to be a part of something, he says.
“ I try to make it as real as possible by involving (not only on-line followers, but) locals as well, and asking them where I should go. If you make people feel comfortable, they’ll open up. All you have to do is ask.”
Troch says being social has taught him to lose his demands, his idea of stereotypes, and his prejudices.
“You learn not to judge and to develop and trust your gut. It’s always about the experience. You learn to live in the moment and not to think about the future.”
Because he’s never quite sure where he’s going once he arrives, Troch has found that being adaptable is the best way to go, especially after adding a twist to his travels: network followers can challenge him during his trip. Challenges must be social — anyone can join him for some or all of it — and they must take place along the trajectory he has chosen, and he must learn something from it.
Troch’s latest challenge is to drive a van across North America and learn how to play the guitar.
He started in Newfoundland and has driven all the way to the Yukon — and he’s learned several chords along the way. After Dawson City, he plans to head back to Edmonton, then on to Banff, (where he will be looking for a new challenge) before heading to Vancouver to travel down the coast to Mexico and then Panama, where he must play what he’s learned on his guitar to earn his gas money.
After four-and-a-half years of traveling, with only a couple of breaks to visit family back home, Troch still feels he’s on the right track.
“ What drives me is being around people and bringing them together,” he says.
“ Pushing boundaries drives us and opens our scope on things. Everyone’s responsible to find out who they are,” he says.
Troch takes his journey day-by-day and person-by-person.
“ People are generally really good.”
To find out more about the Social Traveler and his continuing voyage, log onto www.thesocialtraveler.net, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.