On March 13, 2007 I sat in a room at a real estate office in Minnesota and signed over the deed to my house. I handed the family that purchased my house the keys, they handed me a check and from that moment I was living out of a bag.
That is the day I’ve marked at the beginning of my travels.
I have a hard time believing it has been five years. It is half a decade. It is over 10% of my life.
When I started my journey, I told everyone that I would be gone for a year or so, but in reality I thought I might be gone for two.
I never, ever imagined that I would be doing this for five. Never.
When I reflect on the last 5 years, I’m amazed at how much things have changed in me and how I travel.
- When I began in March 2007, the iPhone had been announced but was still months away from being available. Today, I have no idea how I ever got along without one.
- When I started, I thought that everything I wore had to be quick drying fabric. For several years I never let cotton touch my body. Today, almost everything I wear is cotton.
- My first packing job had tons of things I carried with me “just in case” including small roles of duct tape, medicines and string. Today I don’t carry any of that stuff. Anything I need I just buy wherever I am.
- In 2007 I was apprehensive at going to a country that didn’t speak English. Today you can drop me almost anywhere in the world and it probably wont even raise my pulse level.
- When I began, I had spent only a few days next to the ocean. Today I’ve had over 100 SCUBA dives, have swam with whale sharks, great white sharks, jellyfish and the ruins of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
When I think back on all the things I’ve seen, places I’ve been and people I’ve met it is hard to grasp it all. I could go into a catatonic trace just thinking of everything from the last 5 years. When I go back and look at my photos I often get lost thinking of everything.
No matter how much of this site you have read and no matter how long you have been following, you’ve only gotten a small fraction of what has happened. It would be impossible to share it all, or much beyond a tiny percentage.
Somewhere along the way, and I can’t tell you when it happened, this ceased being a trip and became my life. Thoughts about what I might do when I was done just didn’t appear on my radar anymore. Slowly, more and more people started to follow what I was doing and the next thing you know this website which was designed to share my trip with friends and family became a small business.
What started as a leisurely jaunt around the globe has turned into flying over 100,000 miles and visiting dozens of countries on multiple continents every year. I’m now speaking to audiences about things that I knew nothing about 5 years ago: travel, photography and blogging.
How I travel has changed since I started. I originally began by going from A to B to C in a quasi linear fashion. Now I am sort of all over the map. I just the first 3 months of 2012 I’ll have visited 5 continents. There is a good chance I’ll visit all 7 continents before the year is over.
I’m also no longer content to just visit a city and see the sights. I’m getting more and more adventurous in the places I want to go and the things I want to do. I’m thinking of taking the Trans-Mongolian Train later this year as well as finally visiting South Asia. East Africa and Central Asia are also very high on my list of places to visit. I’d also like to return to the Pacific and revisit many of the places I visited at the start of my journey in 2007. I think it would be interesting to go back with 5 years under my belt now.
I’m getting more serious with my photography, both in terms of gear and technique. It is amazing to look at the type of photos I was taking back in 2007 vs what I’m capable of taking now. It has been quite the transformation. My first photos from Hawaii back in 2007 were….awful.
Traveling around the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. I often get tired and frustrated. Traveling and running a website has its own unique set of problems I have to deal with. Nonetheless, there is nothing else I would rather be doing.
I’m often asked how long I intend to keep traveling. The short answer is: as long as I can. How I travel will certainly change, as will the destinations I visit. I might even have to cut back to “only” 9 months out of the year, but traveling is going to remain the primary focus of my life for the foreseeable future.
I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to email me, comment on my blog or meet me for drinks around the world. All the people at all the tourist boards who have invited me to visit your great countries.
Thanks to all the other travel bloggers who know the difficulties of traveling and blogging. Thanks to all the other nomads and travelers I’ve met along the way who have shared their stories and given advice on the places I had yet to visit.
Extra special thanks goes to my assistant Amy who has been enormous help to me over the last year, my mother who never vocalized her concerns about me traveling, even though I’m sure she thought I was crazy (and has a pile of my stuff in her basement).
I also can’t forget to mention my father who passed away almost two years ago, who taught me to do what you love, and my grandmother who passed away last October.
I’m fortunate to be one of the few people who can do what they truly love. I hope I can keep doing what I love for another 5 years and to keep encouraging others to do the same.