It’s a fact, life is short and if someone has understood this concept very well, it’s Benny Lewis. Irish polyglot, he left his native land 8 years ago and keeps traveling around the world since then. But more than your average globetrotter, Benny has made its principal mission to learn the language of each country he is visiting. Now fluent in 8 languages, Benny is sharing with you his secrets and knowledges through his blog Fluent in 3 months and his brand new Language Hacking Guide. Always convinced that you couldn’t learn a language? Forget your prejudices and check his story out!
If you could only use 3 words to describe Benny, what would they be?
Ambitious, ridiculous, optimist.
What is Benny’s story?
I studied electronic engineering and when I graduated I could only speak English. I moved to Spain and only spent time with other expats and learned very little Spanish for 6 months. Then I took the language seriously and saw that it wasn’t that bad after all, despite believing I wasn’t talented. After several years I’ve applied the same attitude to learning other languages and hope to convince as many people as possible that they can do the same thing too.
“You don’t have to be rich to travel the world”, is that true?
Absolutely. For most of my travels I had a very tight budget, but could get by on very little. In fact, when you travel and don’t have a mortgage or car insurance, or don’t get bored and waste money on TVs and fancy clothes, you realise that the travel lifestyle is cheaper than most people’s lifestyles. If people learned to spend wisely, they’d realise how far their money can take them.
Flights are not expensive nowadays. My flight home from Colombia to Ireland is €300, and most flights within Europe are next to nothing on cheap airlines. You can save money on accommodation by Couchsurfing, and you can always find a kitchen to cook in to avoid restaurants.
What sort of jobs are you doing to support yourself?
I’ve had dozens of jobs. My favourite (and worst paid) was working at the reception of an International Youth Hostel. I’ve also taught English and worked in office jobs and as an engineer. For most of the last few years I was a freelance translator. Since my work was all e-mail based, I could do this from anywhere. Now I am attempting to earn from my website.
How many countries did you visit? Any funny anecdote to share with us during your trips…
I’ve lived in about twenty countries. Other travellers have much higher numbers than that, but I have genuinely lived in all countries and spoken their language, with the exception of week-long trips to 3 or 4 countries.
There are way too many anecdotes. I nearly died seven times, I danced with a president, got recognised dozens of times by strangers who read my blog etc., but I think the best stories are simply the friendships I’ve made along the way. Read more