Picture an epic summer camping trip in southern Germany, sharing stories, good food, and fine beverages with a group of friends hailing from all over the world. For these few days of woodsy bliss, you’re together and all the memories of the past 10 years come flooding back.

That’s what guest MJ Sacco will be doing as part of his round-the-world trip this year. MJ’s been to 20 countries in his young 29 years and he’s gathering friends he’s met on his journeys in Germany for a 10-year reunion. But friends from all walks of life aren’t all that travel has brought MJ. In this episode of the Own Up Grown-Up podcast, he shares how travel has shaped his life.

It’s made me think I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. Having done all these things myself I now feel like you can drop me off at any place in the world and as long as I’ve got a little bit of money in my pocket I’ll be fine.”—MJ Sacco

I met MJ in 2016 at a group event, where I’ve met many podcast guests actually. He’s kind, down-to-earth, and from first meeting him I never would have guessed that this quiet and quietly confident man had been to and seen so much. It wasn’t until I saw him speak about his travels in 2017 that I was totally hooked. I had to know more!

I’ve always been attracted to transient, world-traveler types. Not attracted in the I-want-to-date-you way, but in the tell-me-everything-you’ve-seen way. They all have this restless vibrance and lust for life that I think many of us wish we had, but don’t because for whatever reasons, we never bought a ticket. I’m drawn to world-travelers—and when I say this, I mostly mean backpackers…you can stay at 5-star resorts around the world and still be surrounded by the very same experiences you’d find back at home—because of how open they are to experiences and ideas. They’ve seen and met people who live differently, they’ve been places that are so beautiful or astonishing that photos don’t do them justice. And they have an insatiable need to keep at it, see more, do more. Travel gives them purpose.

“Traveling, it’s a grand adventure. It’s like being the main character in your own storybook.”

MJ’s done a lot of traveling on his own. That’s how he got started, and that takes a lot of courage. He says confidence is one of the biggest things travel has given him. He feels comfortable in new situations and meeting new people. You could drop him off anywhere, and he could figure out a way to find shelter, food, friends, and fun. I know people who lose their shit on a 3-day roadtrip in their home province.

That flexibility is something I think we could all use more of. And it seems that traveling solo is the best way to get it.

Two tips for first-time solo travelers from MJ Sacco

As someone who has gone on many small solo trips, but never a big international one, I wanted to hear from MJ what his two biggest tips are for people like me who are adventuring across the world on their own for the first time.

Stay in backpacker hostels. Forget the shiny, fluffy hotel rooms. While it’s nice to be in luxury on your own, the enthusiasm will only last as long as happy hour, when you’d love to go out for a cocktail and a bite but have no one to go with. This seems to be the best way to avoid loneliness on the road.

Start with safer, easy-to-travel countries. It’s going to be stressful when you land down at your destination. It’s new, there will be people rushing everywhere, your guidebook will all of a sudden seem totally useless. If you’re on your own, start somewhere you’ll be able to get your bearings fairly quickly.

I think we all need at least one grand adventure in our lives, if only to prove to ourselves we can do something big on our own.

Follow MJ around the world on Facebook, where he’s posting regular video updates and more!