After surviving altitude sickness in the Himalayas and a near-deadly brush with a pair of scissors in Mexico, Pablo Rojas arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on his way around the world.
The 24-year-old Chilean-Canadian said he funded his trip by spending two years living with his parents and working in retirement planning..
“The idea for this trip started in high school eight years ago when I first left Canada to visit Germany for my sisters’ wedding," he said.
From there, he loosely planned a trip across Europe. Rojas’s itinerary changed from country to country depending on the situation and he ended up visiting 18 countries.
“Saving for the trip itself was just a matter of work work work and budgeting. I had the advantage of living at home with my parents so I did not have to pay rent and my job didn’t give me much more time to go out and spend my money.”
Traveling alone isn't always easy, he said, but it has afforded him the freedom to do anything, meet anyone and get into situations he might not with a friend at his side.
During his journey, Rojas learned French and Muay Thai, climbed the Himalayas and almost got stabbed in Mexico trying to save a kid from having his gold chain robbed in a local market.
“If you are adventurous and curious, if you want to see new cultures and experiences then you should toss yourself out there.”
Rojas has made countless friends -- so many, he says, he can't name them all.
“In Vietnam, I was lucky to have an excellent guide who showed me everything the country has to offer whether it be catching a gigantic fish in the market or singing karaoke.”
“The most memorable thing about connecting with the locals in general is how proud each person was to show me his country.”
Rojas said he is lucky to have parents who supported his decision and will welcome him home when he returns.
He's also lucky to have a boss who is willing to take him back.
Ultimately, Rojas says his desire to take big risks and travel the world came from his parents.
By 30, the couple had secure careers in Chile. His father was a teacher and his mother a nurse.
They had worked hard throughout their 20s to achieve that stability, and had recently bought an apartment and a luxury car, despite coming from poor families.
They built their entire lives from nothing by sheer hard work.
But, according to Rojas, the 1970s a military dictatorship took over the country and deadly shoot-outs erupted in the streets.
His parents sold everything they had to buy plane tickets to Canada, losing a whole 10 years of their lives to emigrate as refugees.
Once in Canada, they began again in low-wage restaurant jobs.
“The point is they started from nothing twice in their lives. There are always ways to succeed. Never give up!”