There’s just something about being broke in a new city.

Not broke in the sense that bills are piling up and you’re worried, but broke as in you don’t actually have any bills, you’re in a foreign land, and you have nowhere to be, nowhere to go, and nothing in your wallet.

It’s happened to me more times than I can count. I don’t usually travel with much, mainly because I don’t always have a lot. I prefer the adventure, the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of journey that unfolds with bizarre plot twists and guest appearances by unknown Samaritans.

I’ve stayed in hostels on consignment, flown across the world with less than $100 to my name, and relied on credit cards more times than I’d like to admit.

I’ve been broke so many times; frankly, it’s almost funny.

Red van fit for travelBut those times when I had to travel with limited funds have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. They reminded me that I am nothing more than a living element of the world, and that I must revel in the beauty of that sentiment and make the most of what lies in front of me.

Without excess funds or material possessions, you realize that you live in a world that revolves around these two things, and you enter a space of solitude, bewilderment, and appreciation.

It is absolutely glorious.

It sounds counterintuitive, but currency can be shackling. It has the ability to restrict you to the belief that buying things gives you freedom. But we do not need money to be free — we need nothing to be free.

Once we realize this, we see that we live in a place that is enriched by the kindness of people and the generosity of strangers. The whole world becomes a jungle gym, and every moment of life becomes devastatingly beautiful.

Sunset on a beach with surfer in foreground

When you learn to not rely so heavily on monetary value, you’re able to live life in a way that allows you to take action with everything you have. Everything you own — your mind, body, and soul — can be poured into every aspect of your life. It allows you to not be restricted by the things you have, and the world becomes yours.

And realizing this builds incredible strength of character.

I’ve had to re-learn it multiple times in places all over the world, and I have become a more resilient and resourceful person because of it. By being open to all possibilities, I have learned to take things as they come with optimism and an open mind.

It’s true what they say about travel being a catalyst for change, but I never anticipated that change could take form in a place so deep.

Sunset over a coastal Greek city

If you were completely unbound by anything, how would you live your life?

This is a question I only started asking after being broke in a new city.

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Jeremy Scott Foster is a travel photographer, blogger, and professional adventurer. He has been traveling for eight years, asking the hard questions, and learning about both the world and himself in the process. His adventure travel blog, travelFREAK, has taken him to 35+ countries on six continents — he’s hiked glaciers in New Zealand, partied until sunrise on the beaches of Montenegro, taught English in China, conquered the highest bungee jump in the world, traversed Europe by train, and climbed inside the great Pyramids of Giza.