I should have suspected that I wouldn’t have a normal life when I spent more time memorizing the strangely spelled countries of Central Asia in my day care’s atlas than actually talking to other children.
From an early age, I was fascinated with languages, maps, the news, books about foreign places: anything that showed me there was a world outside my little California life.
But travel started off as a series of disasters for me.
My parents split up acrimoniously midway through our first trip to Europe.
I moved to New York for college and was barely keeping it together.
I nearly missed my first solo international flight to Ecuador because I got so lost in the airport… despite having a four-hour layover (in my defense, Orlando Airport is trash).
Once I got there, I managed to contract food poisoning and altitude sickness simultaneously, worked in a school where our sole purpose seemed to be to force-feed crying children, and finally was no longer able to ignore my anxiety disorder.
Originally a six-week trip, I cut it short to two after experiencing panic attacks and crippling anxiety on a daily basis.
I felt defeated and depleted, but despite all evidence to the contrary, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant to travel. Not one to take no for an answer, I focused on getting my mental health in order. One year later I was well enough to go study abroad in Prague.
I loved every minute of it: burčák (young wine), svařák (mulled red wine), pivo (beer – notice a theme here?), smažený sýr (fried cheese) sandwiches eaten in the late-night hours after some ill-advised combination of the above…
I dove headfirst into learning the local language, burdening everyone from taxi drivers to waitresses with my enthusiastically broken Czech.
I spent weekends bouncing around as much as I could, from small Czech cities to Dublin to Vienna to Amsterdam to Paris.
When it was time to go back to New York, I was devastated.
I graduated not long after that and became a special education teacher in New York City.
It was never really the plan, but the city was facing a shortage and offering expedited pathways to becoming a teacher, and who doesn’t want summers off — especially in our overworked American society where ten days paid vacation is a luxury?
Every chance I got, I traveled as far away as possible for as long as I could. Over five years, I visited 17 countries, as diverse as could be: Australia, Myanmar, Japan, Turkey, Colombia, Belize, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sweden, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Canada, the UK, and Mexico.
But even that wasn’t enough — I’d hop a cheap flight to Puerto Rico for the weekend, leave at 2:45 AM, and show up to work off the plane, unslept and unshowered, sea salt still in my hair.
I’d take the overnight bus to Montréal and back just for a quick weekend away. I was traveling as much as I possibly could… but it wasn’t enough.
I had been saving to buy an apartment, but I realized I was no longer enjoying my life in New York City.
My anxiety had gotten worse, pummeling me every day to the point where even getting out of the bed in the morning made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. I drastically needed a change.
So I made either the very brave or very dumb decision to take all that money, quit my job, start a blog, travel continuously, and see what happened.
That was in 2016, and five years later, I’m running this blog as my full-time career.
Since I took that leap, I’ve hitchhiked through the Balkans, rode camels through the Sahara, boarded down an active volcano, slept atop other volcanoes, gone scuba diving on 3 continents, climbed the highest mountain in Montenegro, gone dogsledding in the Arctic, seen the Northern lights in Sweden, rode a train through Switzerland and gawked at the Matterhorn, swam with sharks in Belize, caved in Guatemala, canyoned in Nicaragua, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, and hot air ballooned in Cappadocia.
I traveled to 60 countries before the age of 30 and have never looked back at a normal life.
I’ve since slowed down my travels a bit, and now I live back in my home state of California (which I blog about here), based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.
My goal is to aid and inspire others who want to make travel a priority in their life by telling honest, engaging stories replete with practical advice.
Remember. You don’t have to do what I did; full-time travel is not for everyone.
There’s no need to quit your job, or become a life-long backpacker (I couldn’t), or travel in any particular way.
But if travel is important to you (and I’m guessing it is, if you found your way here somehow, and read all the way to here!), you can find a way to make it a bigger, more frequent part of your life.
I’m here to help do whatever I can to make that easier for you, whether that’s telling you how I saved $50,000 to travel or writing incredibly detailed itineraries and packing lists.