Travel isn’t just something you do. It is who you are.
At least that is true for Todd Smidt who has spent many years travelling abroad.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Originally from Nebraska, Todd started his career in Commodities Trading shortly after leaving college. However, not too long after starting that soul-destroying job, Todd said he knew that he wanted more from life, so he began to apply for travel jobs.
One of those jobs was working on a cruise ship in Australia. This job introduced him to a whole new world of being and living. He then began to live and work in many countries across the world.
He said: “After my cruising job, I got the opportunity to au pair/teach english in the Czech Republic. I did that for four months and then spent 3 months backpacking around Europe. Then I came back to the States. I was kind of down because I knew that I wanted to go travelling.
“Then one of my friends approached me and asked if I wanted to join him in Australia and get a working holiday visa. So I ended up moving to Melbourne for a year”.
Since then, he has travelled to many countries across the world and he organizes overseas excursions on a regular basis.
Todd now works for a design company, and it is there that he first met Jaqui Mccarthy, founder of WiGo Trips. That was two years ago when the company first launched. Now WiGo Trips is a thriving enterprise, with many ambassadors who between them are responsible for taking people all over the world.
For Todd, this represented the perfect opportunity to do what he does best - organizing group trips overseas.
Nowadays, Todd spends about a month each and every year exploring different countries.
He said: “I take a month off every year to travel. A couple of years ago I did a 35 day trip to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Last year I was in Russia for the World Cup. I’ve also gone to Portugal, Greece, and I've gone to the Burning Man festival twice in three years. This year I am getting ready to go to Egypt and Lebanon in August. My next WiGo Trip is in Morocco in December.
“I am really good at planning trips. It is a cool way to travel with like-minded people that is not through a tour company. That is what is missing from what is out there. With WiGo Trips you are meeting new people and helping them to have life-changing experiences. I’ve organized trips with friends that have never been travelling before.”
“However, seeing the reactions of my friends who have never travelled before gives me a lot of happiness. It is great to see how amazed they are with the world and the cool things out there.”
For Todd, travelling is more than simply having great experience. He says that travelling helps you to grow as a person and gives you confidence that you never knew you had.
While many people have a fear of the unknown, Todd said that he never let fear stop him from achieving his dreams of seeing the world.
“There’s no telling when your time is up and staying safe in a house isn’t going to extend it,” Todd said, adding: “Even if it did extend your years, you are not living a life worth living. I used to do a job that I felt I was dying at. So that’s why over the last 8 or 9 years I’ve just gone out and done things.
“The more you travel, the bigger your comfort zone gets. I believe that travel makes you self-sufficient, especially if you travel alone. Someone has to navigate, someone has to book a flight or figure out a taxi or uber.
“It really makes you depend on yourself and figure out what you’re capable of. The more scared you are to do stuff, the more you should do so. The more you do, the more confident you are going to be. Travel should change you. If it doesn’t then I don’t want to say you did it wrong. But you probably didn’t do it right.”
Even getting injured in Thailand did little to dampen his spirits. That’s because it is not what happens to you that is important, but the way you handle it.
He was day 5 into his 35 day trip when he ended up going to the ER over the injury. His friends advised him to return home to heal. He declined. He still had 30 days of his trip left to enjoy.
He added: “I’m happy it happened to me and nobody else, because I knew I could handle it. How you respond to bad things really dictates who you are as a person. Anybody can be bubbly and happy when things are going good. But who you are when the chips are down is something that travel really teaches you.”
In fact this is one of the biggest things that Todd has gained from his travel. Fundamentally, it changed who he is as a person and subsequently, his outlook on life.
Now he is dedicated to helping others have similar experiences when they travel abroad.
He said it gave him more confidence in his abilities than he ever knew he had.
“It gave me a really good grasp on what I can achieve. It allowed me to change. Usually when you have been hanging out with the same people for years, they see you as who you were when you first met.
“The cool thing about travelling is that every six months, I’d hang out with a completely new set of people. I wasn’t being held back by preconceived notions of who I used to be. I could become someone else. I’d take the parts of myself that I really liked and apply that in the countries I visited. It made me more secure in who I am and happy in who I am.”
Never let fear hold you back. That’s the one final piece of advice that Todd has given to future travellers. He is encouraging those who are interested in travelling to sign up to one of the tours on WiGo Trips. He believes that the only way to experience the world is to see it for yourself. He added: “You could join a tour on WiGo Trips knowing nobody and end up with six brand new best friends. That in itself is a good reason to join WiGo. Always be positive, always be open-minded. Never take someone's word for it when you go travelling. Always go and see it for yourself.”
Janine Griffiths | Journalist
Janine is a copywriter and marketing strategist from England, with a background in journalism. She has represented many major brands throughout her career such as HSBC, Prudential and BIM. She runs a popular travel blog called janinesjourneys.com and has made has previously worked for major regional newspapers in the UK such as the Guardian, Yorkshire Post and the Shropshire Star