Quit your job and travel the world like… Paulo Palha

Tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Paulo Palha from Portugal and I’m CEO and Founder of two travel startups: TheMostPerfectView.com and Travideo.

Where was the first place you visited outside of your native country?

I believe the first time I left Portugal was on a visit to neighbouring Spain as a child. Back in those days, visiting Spain was considered a substantial trip – not least because we’d need to go through customs, which always took ages. I remember thinking of it as a huge adventure, whereas now we don’t even need to waive

What do you like most about travelling?

Experiencing different cultures and meeting interesting people is one of the best things about travel, as I’m sure most travel fans would agree. Having lived in Rio, Johannesburg, Maputo, Sydney and now Lisbon, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about an incredibly diverse range of people and traditions.

Travelling is one thing, but living somewhere for a longer period lets you delve far deeper into the heart of a place. This is what I seek from travel – the chance to learn about places, understand where people are coming from, and just enjoy the diversity that’s out there. Upon returning home, I’m never exactly the same person who left and I think that’s a good thing.

How many countries have you visited?

If Math isn’t failing me, 30 countries so far. In the past eight years, I’ve had the privilege to live in four different continents with my family. We’re our way to complete our ‘Ten years, five continents’ project: something we decided to do as a family.

Where is your favourite country and why?

I would have to say Portugal. My home country is an exceptional, diverse place to visit; there is so much beauty and culture and I love the people, the climate and the atmosphere. Places like Australia, Brazil, Mozambique and South Africa also occupy a special place in my heart though.

Where’s the worst place you’ve ever been and why?

No matter the circumstances, I always try to focus on the positives of a place. It’s also a matter of managing expectations: sometimes when you don’t expect much from a place you end up getting surprised – and I love that feeling. So in that sense, I’ve never been anywhere ‘bad’. Every experience travelling, even if stressful, unsettling or unpleasant, is a good experience as long as you learn something from it!

Is there a city you consider your second home?

I can’t pick just one; I’d have to say Sydney, Maputo and Rio. I feel at home in those cities, and would happily go back and live there any time.

If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

I envision my next vacations being spent in Asia, maybe Japan more specifically as it’s a country I’m fascinated by and haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet. This won’t be right away, though, as I’m super busy with Travideo at the moment, and want to get the platform flying first before I do!

Mount Fuji, Japan. 

Tell us about your best experience on the road?

Driving across Mozambique’s countryside has had a real impact on me. Village after village, I would spend some quality time learning the way of life from local communities. It’s so remote, and is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. I’m also inspired by how these communties leave so happily, peacefully and self-sufficently, totally unconcerned by the sorts of struggles we burden ourselves with in cities. There’s a lot to be learnt from these people.

Tell us about your worst travel experience?

A (very long) flight that involved Johannesburg, Abidjan, Casablanca, Madrid and finally Lisbon. 48 hours of lost connections are not so nice to remember. I’ve never longed for home so much in my life! 

Have you had any near death experiences whilst travelling?

I’ve witnessed a few shootings and have seen some buses in flames right next to me. Things better avoided but plausible to happen when you decide to explore beyond city sightseeing tours – no matter where you are in the world!

What has travelling taught you about yourself?

It has made me accept (and often embrace) peoples’ differences in a way I would have never imagined if I didn’t travel in the first place. Travelling makes you far more tolerant, understanding and supportive of other cultures, behaviours and ways of life, and I’ve realised that I’m far more adventurous and open-minded than I thought I was!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about quitting their job to travel the world?

This is a very personal decision and a lot should be considered before making such a big change. I’d say that it’s important to follow your dreams, but always with a safety net. If quitting your job and travelling is what you want to do, work hard to put yourself in a good position to do it but do it properly and responsibly. 

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