• Esteban Solano

Three Core Laws of Travel: Becoming a Backpacker, a Wanderlust, a Hakawati

Updated: Apr 13


The life of a backpacker, a couchsurfer or a traveler is a tempting one. Many people try to "take" the road as their path in life without a basic understanding of what this conveys. When you spend your life as the son of travel agents you understand the consequences of travel since childhood. I have developed what I call the Three Core Laws of the Traveler. These laws are not about the monetary or physical aspect of this lifestyle but the emotional impact constant travel has on us.

Before we start I would like to remind everyone that this is based on my personal experience and is nothing more than my opinion. By no means your experience was or will be similar to mine, yet I do believe this could help every traveler become a Hakawati.


You will never have a Home


Sounds sad, doesn’t it? Allow me to explain with an example. My home country, Mexico, never felt “complete”. I traveled the whole 32 states of it and even after that it never felt “mine”. I believe it's because my travels began when I was a fetus (or so says my mother) as a result I was exposed to great amounts of different cultures, languages, people, and traditions thus I feel the need to keep learning about the world, keep wandering around and never staying to long in one place. In a way it makes the whole world your home and all people’s your people.

The difficult part starts when you try to explain your sense of belonging. As I said before, my own country didn't feel "mine" and other nations will feel no different to this. Home becomes a tremendously difficult term to explain. My First Core Law is that there's no belonging to any one territory or nation (not even to the whole wide world) but to the people you meet in your way.


Trust me, when you re-meet someone you met in another country the first feeling that overflows and takes over you is "I am home".




Stories are the Most Valuable Treasure you will Own


Say you’re a very successful individual and you have money, properties, fast cars, that’s all well and good as the expression goes "whatever floats your boat" however, this isn't the same for a Hakawati. Think about anyone in your life, what do you remember about them? What are your memories of this people? Almost every time it would be all the experiences you have shared, the stories they have told you about themselves or their environment. This is what the Second Core Law means with stories being the most precious of possessions, you can share them as much as you want and still have them! This is the foundation of who you are and everything you’ve lived.


Now that’s already amazing in your country, imagine when you add other places and people to that mix, you get incomparable experience. Possessions loss their status of necessity in your life and memories take their place as a basic need. As a consequence you will begin to see and judge the world in a different light, most of your basic positive or negative conceptions will change or even disappear. I am referring to everything you believe you hate and/or love, it's a hard transformation but a welcome one.


There is no other way to beat hate than with love. Once you let your journey begin you will only spread the good vibes.


There’s a Hidden Responsibility to becoming a Hakawati


You have seen me repeat this word quite a few times throughout this article, I'm sure you're wondering what’s a Hakawati? For centuries the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East region have been the sources of legends, fables and tales of adventures of kings and warriors. For generations, the tradition of oral storytelling has been a powerful medium for narrating the drama inherent in these tales and breathing life into them. The storyteller who represented the collective genius and fantasies of his people would, with his way with words, spin yarns and breathe life into the heroes of history, fables from the Quran, legends and myths about warriors, bringing a piece of the past to life for his avid listeners.



Hakawati was one of the most riveting leisure activities for people and their neighborhoods in a bygone era when cinema or television did not exist. Entertainment derived from simple means, like a man telling a story that was compelling and attractive enough to pass the time and learn a few morality lessons along the way. It was a powerful way of making people step out of their everyday concerns and willingly lose themselves in another world.


The origins of the word hakawati lie in the terms hekaye and haki. Hekaye in Arabic means the story and haki means to talk. The one who talked and told a story was a hakawati. The storytellers would use this device to enable people to vent their unexpressed anger, joy, grief and angst as the minutes stretched out and encircled them in a world that loosened the stress of daily issues and provided them small moments of vicarious participation in tales of heroism and valor. It was this irresistible pull that gave a hakawati his appeal.


And what does this have to do with anything? When you travel the world learning and listening about all manners of subjects you in-avertedly become one of these storytellers, any place you travel to now you will tell the tales of your adventures and the people you have met. Yet there's a hidden responsibility to do them justice, to portray everything as unbiased and truthful as possible. Sounds complicated? I assure you it isn’t!


One of the ways people get inspired to travel is by listening to these modern hakawati. The Third Core Law (and last) is to portray every country, nation and person as objectively and truthfully as a hakawati would.


Let The Journey Begin


When I started my travels I was hellbent on becoming a backpacker, but my job as a travel agent didn't allow me to stay only in hostels or couchsurf. Becoming a wanderlust presented not much difference to me either as It felt like there was a pressure to act and think a certain way, I never understood it completely.

What was I then? A wanderer? A traveler? Some bizarre amalgamation of all things tourism? No, I believe I became a Hakawati.


My goal with travel apart from following my passion and quenching my thirst for knowledge is also to inspire travel and curiosity by the means of my storytelling. Doesn't matter if it's for a quick holiday or a 6-months road trip adventure, I believe curiosity is the ultimate motivation for travel, and we are all benefited by other people's journeys as well as our own.


I do not belong to the world but to its people, I will treasure the knowledge and experience of those who trust me with it and I will pass it down truthfully to those willing to receive it. I am a Hakawati and this is what my journey has made me.


The only question that remains is: What will your journey make of you? I am curious to find out. I hope we meet soon or until we meet again. Gracias hermana y hermano.


If you'd like to hear another take on this check the Official video at the Vlog here


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