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Something Funny Happened On The Way Around The World

When I started traveling back in 2007 I did it for same reasons everyone does: to learn, explore, discover and see all the things I’ve always wanted to see.

…and for almost 5 years I’ve been doing just that. You can see from my about page all of the things I’ve crammed into the last 5 years of my life.

My motives for traveling were entirely, and unapologetically, selfish….and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it.

A few years ago, however, something happened.

I got an email from a young man. He had never commented on the blog, never sent me an email and never made an attempt to contact me prior. He quit is job, put his stuff in storage and set out to travel around the world. He just wrote me to say thank you for giving him the inspiration to do it.

I was floored.

I didn’t get into this to inspire people to quit their jobs. I wasn’t trying to be inspirational. I just wanted to travel and take pictures. Even though I had the blog, I can’t say I ever really thought in terms of how people might react to what I was doing .

I sent him a courteous reply and sort of forgot about it for a while….until another similar email showed up.

And then another, and another, and another.

I began getting emails from people in China, India, Malaysia, the US, UK, Germany, Russia and even Iran. Some of them were several pages long telling me how badly they wanted to see the world. Some of them were ready to go and some were just dreaming about it.

About once I month now I get these type of emails.

It took a while, but I have begun to realize that traveling around the world and sharing what I see/do is not enough. There is a lot of pent up desire for people to travel and explore. I can show people the amazing things I see and experience, but sometimes it might require a swift kick in the ass to get someone out the door.

I want to get everyone who visits this site to travel more. Period. If you haven’t traveled much, then the goal is to get you going. If you are an experienced traveler, then I want to challenge you to go a bit farther during your next trip.

In all my travels I’ve never met a person who went on an adventure and regretted it.

If you are reading my words, at some level you are interested in traveling.

Leave a comment letting me know where you are in terms of your travel objectives and what is holding you back. If you are an experienced traveler, let me know where you plan to go next.

The world isn’t going to explore itself.

  • 45 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Jocy says:

    Something shifted in me two years ago, when I decided to move to Cambodia to try human rights law. The same pressures still apply, the same doubts still pop up now and then – should I be buying a home? Should I be practicing traditional law? Shouldn’t I be making more money? Sure, but it is a matter of priorities. I feel lucky to be able to live in a country and explore and have more than 2 weeks vacation each year. For now, I am content findings ways to marry my love of travel and exploration with my work. The house, the mortgage, the more traditional well-paid job is there, back in the US, when I am ready to prioritize those things. As for travel plans, this summer I went to Kazakhstan and western China, and I’d like next to spend more time in Central Asia.

    • Jocy says:

      Or, actually, the house, the mortgage, the more traditional well-paid job, the family can be found abroad, in one of the many countries where people have built up beautiful lives… as Americans, I think we forget that sometimes

  2. Dave says:

    Gary – I’ve been a reader for some time and live vicariously through every post. My station in life is different in that I have not yet “retired.” My journey to a retirement based on travel caused me to start my http://www.TravelTirement.com site. I would be honored if you could provide some feedback any time you have a few minutes.

    I’m especially having fun with the Retirement Countdown series, documenting my perspectives as I close in on retirement.

    Keep up the inspiring work. We all benefit from it.

    Dave

    • Walter says:

      Nice blog, Dave!

      I also started my travel blog travelmemo.com with retirement in mind. Only that it’s twenty years away ;-)

      The plan is to make enough money off the blog by the time I retire to pay for the travel bills…

      • Dave says:

        Walter, thank you for the compliment. Gary is a wonderful inspiration and his constant travel motivates me like nothing else does.

        I, too enjoyed your site. I especially like the blogroll exchange. I’ve noticed Gary’s favorite sites also, but haven’t thought about sharing interesting sites in this manner. Look on http://www.TravelTirement.com soon for something like a “My Favorites” blogroll. You and Gary will be my first members!

        Best regards,

        Dave

  3. Bijal says:

    I’m doing the same thing but only for a year! I am so glad I took on this adventure!

  4. Phil says:

    “In all my travels I’ve never met a person who went on an adventure and regretted it.”

    Amen. Great post Gary. Whether you accept the title or not, you are a kind of spokesperson for the travel blogging community and it’s great to have someone in that role who thoughtfully shares their travels and inspires others to have an adventure of their own.

    Partly because of your example, I have been in some form of wander for over a year now, mostly in West Africa. And you’re right, I certainly haven’t regretted it. In fact, nothing has been more important for realizing what truly excites me.

    Cheers,
    Phil

  5. Zenaida says:

    I would encourage anyone to explore as much as possible, especially if you have a small nook or event you want to go see, no matter how much out of the way or arcane and no matter if it is nearby or the other side of the world. My next adventure will be north Sweden, north of the polar circle in January to catch Aurora (Northern) lights.

  6. Kym says:

    I do a lot of travelling around Turkey where I now live but there is still so much of the world I want to see……one day :-) Your site is so popular I realise it may take you a while to get round to this but I’ve nominated you anyway: http://turkeywithstuffin.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/a-versatile-blogger-the-morning-papers/

  7. It’s true…You almost have an obligation now to help people, kind of cool that you’re a mentor and a shining example for people who feel stuck in their lives, keep it up!

  8. Yes! I’ve never regretted adventure either. 7+ years and counting!

  9. Red says:

    I like this post. The “The world isn’t going to explore itself.” line is especially quotable. =)
    I’ll be hopefully travelling overland in 2012 across Asia, from east coast to west coast, and everything in between.
    Cheers

  10. hi,

    I really liked this post! thanks for sharing :)

  11. Melissa says:

    Gary,
    Once I am out of debt, i will travel more than I do, but as it is, I travel as MUCH as possible. What your blog does is help me discover new places I want to go and share in comraderie for seeing you in places I have already been and get your take on it! For example, I have had a desire to do Romania, and when you posted your pcitures, it helped me gather other areas around that country I want to go and do….I have been to a lot of places considering, I am trying to hit all the new wonders (not the nature ones, you are right about that…LAME lol) I have hit three and two ancient cultures… Still have a few places that overwhelm me with giddiness, Turkey, Romainia, Southern part of Africa (Malawi, Zimbobwe, Tansinia etc) and going BACK to both Jordan and Egypt. Fell in love with Jordan. All I ever would want to be rich for is to be able to do what you do> you would say it doesnt take to being rich but it sure makes it easier! haha. I love everything about traveling, but mainly to immerse myself in that culture. I don’t like to do the normal traveling, I like to go elsewhere….admittidly places people would be envious of or never thought of going before. Your pictures are beautiful and help me PLAN! So i except your “challenge” although I am already living it to the best of my ability…haha

  12. Leslie says:

    Thanks for the post. I started traveling in 2002 when I decided to study abroad in Australia, and ever since I’ve been hooked on travel. Even though I didn’t “need” to go to Australia for class credits, I went anyway because I wanted to travel and I wanted to see and experience Australia. Australia was my last trip until 2008. I couldn’t travel abroad during that long period because of an immigration issue, but after finally getting my passport in 2008, my goal has been to visit 2 countries every year. And I’ve been able to do that, sometimes visiting more than 2. I have a steady job and I’ve been saving money just for travel. And that’s my dilemma–I’m so “comfortable” with the job and my current situation, that I’m afraid to quit and travel. I’ve been thinking about it more and more (and more) and maybe I’m ready to jump, hopefully next year December. I hope I can do it :) Cheers!

  13. imani says:

    I am a writer and world traveler, but I am currently masquerading as a corporate professional. : ) During the past few years it has become increasingly difficult to return from vacation. On my last trip to Bali, I seriously contemplated whether bill collectors could find me there! LOL One day soon, I believe my writing will support me and my travel adventures. Until then, thank you for the inspiration. Feel free to check out my blogs about Bali at http://www.byimani.com. Safe travels to you!

  14. Alaska says:

    My dream, is to not get married or have children, save up a huge savings account, retire at 35 and become a full time traveller. This is something I have been dreaming about for quite a long time, but at 14 I still have a lot of work to do. I am well on my way though, this year, for my grade 9 year I decided to leave public school and homeschool, because of this I have the opportunity to travel around New Zealand and Australia for three whole months this winter. It is far from becoming a professional traveller but for me it is the most exciting thing I have ever experienced. Few of my friends understood why I decided to cram the whole grade nine year into seven months instead of ten, and travel for the other three. The do not understand why I would choose travel over the social aspect of public school, or the leisure of having three extra months to complete my work. I know that when I read or comment on your blogs I can understand where people are coming from when they leave their lives to travel.
    Thank you.

  15. 8 years ago, we set off to travel purely around Turkey for 6 months. 8 years later, we’re still here. That’s travel for us. We travel to other countries but Turkey is a world of its own for us and we’ve still got a lot more to see and learn here.
    Julia

  16. catena says:

    Oh – and I forgot to add that I’ve subscribed to several travel blogs (primarily yours) because I enjoy hearing about others’ travels, and seeing the pictures. Plus picking up ideas (or places to avoid!)

  17. catena says:

    In March 2010, I had a trip to Australia and my husband tagged along. We took extra time for vacation. While we were hiking in the Katjas early one morning, it came to me that 1) this (the hiking) wasn’t as easy as it used to be and 2) not only did we have only so many years to go places, but 3) even fewer to be able to do the things we wanted to do. So that started a serious bucket list. We had traveled before, but now we’re systematic – there are places we want to see (and things we want to do when we get there). Since then, we’ve hiked in many of the western US parks, gone on an eastern Med cruise, visited Quito and the Galapagos, and we’ve got 2012 planned (Egypt/Jordan, back to Yellowstone to wolf watch, Panama Canal cruise). What’s holding us back from more travel? Vacation time, primarily, and, to a lesser extent, money (while we do haul our backpack suitcases, we like some creature comforts). Plus, I miss my cats when we’re away. I would not quit to travel the world – I like to travel, but I like to be home, too.

  18. Crissy says:

    On the first tour that I did back in 2003 I met Australian’s who were traveling around the world and since then I have been inspired to travel around the world. Since then I have met a lot of people who have inspired me to keep traveling and to keep that dream of traveling around the world alive. You are one of those people who inspires me.
    I haven’t traveled around the world yet, but I’ve been taking several trips a year, some as long as a month, since then. Making a good salary, likeing my job, and having 5 weeks vacation time I’m not ready to quit my job just yet. But I am already starting the beginning stages of planning a yearish trip around the world – depending on circumstances it is 3-7 years away for me, but it’s a dream I’m putting into action.

  19. Gary,

    I had a wish for travelling before I ran into your blog. In fact, my wish made me look for your blog, and other blogs. Despite that, I find your travelling to be inspirational to me as well… :)

    I’ve done a bit of travelling, but not much. Money is usually the problem holding me back. Also, I don’t have many friends to travel with, because they have even more money problemas than me. And I do not like to travel all alone. I don’t mind travelling with a group of people I do not know, I’ve done it a few times, because I think that if the spirit is the same, people will get along just fine. However, I feel the need to share the trips I make, not only with the ones I encounter alog the way, but also with the people who take the same journey as me, passing through the same places. That makes the journey more rich, to be able to share the experience with someone..

    As for my next trip, I was considering a bit of trekking in Nepal, with a lot of photographing too…

  20. Dean says:

    Hey Gary great post. Indeed you do inspire people to travel, even your photos make me want to go to those places. I would put myself into the experienced traveller category, I travel whenever I can and working towards a more location independent lifestyle to travel more. My next travel goal is to Tanzania, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
    Cheers :)

  21. nateniale says:

    It is great to see that so many people are bitten by the travel bugs, and some taking it further than another. I do have this nagging thought at the back of my mind to take a year off and travel around the world. As of now, I try to plan as many travels as I can, in between my job in a corporate world.

  22. Hi,

    Great info we should get some holiday leaves from office once in a year because it will help to make the balance between relations with family members.

  23. Matthew says:

    Thanks for inspiring me to go farther, next up is Morocco in February!

  24. ND says:

    Mostly money and parenting holding me back ;)

  25. Rachel says:

    Great post – you’re right, and so many excuses are just that – excuses. I’m working in South Korea on a one year teaching contract. I have a trip to Vietnam planned in January and possibly Japan next August. I try to travel somewhere every weekend within South Korea. And I’m planning my slow way home for next year – SE Asia, China, Trans-Mongolian Railway, Europe, N Africa, then home to the US or on to South America.

  26. Traveling a bit farther is one option, but traveling a bit deeper can be just as rewarding–if not more so. Over the years, I’ve found that I’d rather spend several months in one place than a a week or two in half a half-dozen places. It’s the difference between visiting a place and living in a place.

  27. Zoe says:

    I try to travel around my country as much as I can around Uinversity, next year is my last year to finnish my degree. After taking a month or so to come back and visiit my parents I want take off and teach English overseas to get money to travel around.

  28. I used to travel until I got older and deeper in debt. Maybe someday in the future I will have the funds to begin traveling again. There are lots of items on my “bucket list” – getting to New Zealand to meet my “adopted daughter” (she isn’t really adopted – it’s just via the Internet) and then, of course, figuring out how to meet up with you somewhere, Gary! I must keep saving pennies … LOL
    Beth, near “Groundhog Central”

  29. sandhy says:

    I smiled so much reading this post! yes, travel – see things, learn things – meet people…
    Life is so short – this is what we are meant to be doing – learning a new thing every day – stretching oursleves – enjoying the moment.
    I am so envious of your choice :) I have travelled a lot – but…would love to travel every day, every minute a new thing. Unfortunately [!] not possible right now. But a dream that could be realised

  30. Kelvin Lim says:

    Hi Gary, I met you by chance on Twitter 2 years ago, and every now and then, I follow your blog. You’ve been very inspirational. I love to travel, and my goal is to at least visit 2 new countries each year.. So far I have been able to achieve that, and despite wanting to travel for a long period and drop everything, i always find that i’m unable to do so.. Still, I enjoy following your posts, and in fact, I will be heading to Antarctica and parts of South America this December,it’s a shame we won’t get the chance to meet or be on the same boat down there..

  31. RG says:

    Hi, I travel from time to time, with my job, as well as recreationally. My next trip is Barbados for New Years weekend. I’m a struggling 26 y.o. middle class female and I’m quite frugal but my travel buddy keeps reminding me that LIFE IS SHORT. We gotta live.

  32. Alesa says:

    What a great challenge. Although I can’t drop everything and travel the world, I have four small children at home. I do think it is important to get out when I can. My husband and I are planning a trip to Curacao in January and I am so excited. We also need to remember to get out and see the things close to us. My husband grew up in Utah and had never been to Yellowstone (only 3 hours away) until after we were married. Travel doesn’t have to require a long flight somewhere. Good luck in your journeys.

  33. Skip says:

    Very interesting post, interesting, because I have seen some transformations in your post, your blog, etc, as I’ve been following you since almost the beginning and I’m not really surprised that you have inspired people. I think anyone who gets out there and shares is inspiring… My limiting factors have been children, being a full time parent %50 percent of the time, makes it challenging to take long trips. Although I manage to get away for a week or 10 days every now in then… next week I’ll be in Paris, wahoo!!!
    one of these days we will cross paths.
    -Skip

  34. I love travel and would of course love to do more of it, but I don’t have a desire to quit my job and travel the world indefinitely – I like having a home base and taking individual trips. Even so, it’s good to read many of the perma-traveler/location independent stories just to be reminded that every day I have a choice in how I live my life. I think just knowing that is the most important thing.

    • Walter says:

      Same here!

      I like to come back home after my trips. I guess that most of us are regular travellers for some weeks per year and that for the rest we live vicariously through Gary ;-)

  35. You go, Gary! Love this post. Next up for me: Nearly 3 weeks in Indonesia in February, first diving Lembeh from Lembeh Resort, then 10 days aboard the Arenui, cruising/diving Raja Ampat. First Pacific trip for me — counting the days!!!!

  36. I like to travel and have visited a number of places around the world. This made me realise that some of the best experiences were guided by curiosity and presence of mind and they are freely available anywhere anytime. Consequently, I have chosen to focus on one country. I still visit other part of the world when I get the chance, but mostly I’m oscillating between two homes in Denmark and Italy.

  37. Amanda says:

    I left a similar comment on your blog when I first started following you. I still have kids at home, 4 of them, so it’s not in the cards for me yet. But I continue to follow your blog and enjoy your travels. it was funny, when I first discovered you and read your story, I had smiled and thought about how much I would love to do that. In my very early twenties my dream was to be a photographer for National Geographic. Of course that didn’t happen. Dad couldn’t afford college so I went straight to work out of high school and worked in finance for the next 13 years. I started my family and then started a website. I sold that and now I have several blogs. Some day all my kids will be gone and I will actually hop in my husband’s 18 wheeler and travel with him. Then later I do want to travel the world, but I know that there will be grandkids and family that wants to gather with us in our home. So I guess I’ll stick with the trucking travel in my future and the occasional hop across the ocean before I die. I do find inspiration in your travels, and watch for your emails each day :) Thanks Gary.

  38. DJ says:

    Gary,
    Your blog is everything I look for in a site – informative, funny and it provides great perspective. I am 32 and working my way to the middle in Corporate America, to steal a line from Almost Famous. In two weeks my wife and I department for a trip to Chile where we’ll visit Torres del Paine, Santiago and the Colchagua Valley. My travel objective (unbeknownst to my wife) is two countries a year. Thanks for all of your posts – they truly do inspire!
    DJ

  39. Christina says:

    Hallo Gary!

    I love your blog and see every day your nice pictures in my reader. One of my desires is to travel as much as possible. I also write a (german) travel blog and report about my recent experiences. “Unfortunately” my husband and I want to build a house in some years so I couldn’t attempt a world trip and have to save money. Nevertheless I try to travel every year somewhere and see something new (and I love it!). :)

    Hope you have a good trip and show us more wonderful pictures.
    Greetings from Austria
    Christina

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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