My 5 Year Travelversary – Exploring the Globe For Half A Decade

Year 1 - Solomon Islands
Year 1 - Solomon Islands
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.
  • Year 2 - Australia
    Year 2 - Australia
  • 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.

Year 3 - Oman
Year 3 - Oman
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.

Year 4 - Bangkok
Year 4 - Bangkok
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.

Year 5 - Valencia, Spain
Year 5 - Valencia, Spain
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.

42 thoughts on “My 5 Year Travelversary – Exploring the Globe For Half A Decade”

  1. Freaking amazing, Gary! I know I’m a bit late, but this is still so impressive and inspiring. Congrats :)

  2. Hey Gary! your blog is awesome and your posts are inspiring. I’m a new travel blogger and I can only say that reading your articles and seeing your beautiful photography inspired me a lot. as an artist and a photographer I can really appreciate your work.

  3. Hey there; this post was inspiring for me. I have only been traveling a year and I almost have 1 month under my belt with the blogging scene… but it is nice to hear that other people are doing the same thing! You’re story is awesome and I like the way you talk about it. Happy Traveling!

  4. Hey Gary

    I’m a 42 year old guy just kind of stuck in a rut and in need of a change…Im very inspired by your travels and have saved a bit of money up. About 15 Thousand. What would it take financially to take a trip like yours staying at hostels and stuff like that… I am in NY State… How far could I get and for how long on about 15 Thousand dollars. Thanks and good Luck


  5. Congrats Gary on the 5th anniversary of this great journey of yours. Have not followed much of your travels but now I intend to. Keep going and all the very best..!! Cheers!

  6. Contrats on your 5 years of travel. You’re an inspiration. I’m working my way to at least half-year travel unless I’m so entranced as to quit my seasonal job as a Park Ranger at Grand Canyon.

  7. Wow, congrats! I’m a fellow Minnesotan travel lover with a whopping 3 months of backpacking under my belt. Perhaps someday I’ll make it to year one, two, … Thanks for the great stories!

  8. Wow, five years! That’s amazing Gary! Looking forward to hearing you speak at the G Adv event. You’re an inspiration!

  9. First of all, congrats! For an American to do what you are doing is impressive. My wife and I did our around the world trip five years ago now! Maybe we passed somewhere on the road. Keep it going.

  10. Absolutely love this post! My offer for you to come stay with my husband and I in St. John, USVI is still open. 2 weeks ago we swam with a 15 foot manta ray, I didn’t see a mention of that in your post, come visit and make it happen!

  11. Congratulations, keep on travelling for yourself and for ourselves, You inspire and exemplify for us. I am on the same wavelenght like you. Best regards from Turkey.

  12. Congratulations on five years of living your passion and allowing for expansion! From what you share here, it seems as though your inner “travel” equals that of your external travel! Thank you for sharing:)

  13. Congratulations on allowing your life to be one in which you follow your passion and enbrace expansion. From what you share here, your inner “travel” equals your “external travel”. Thank you for sharing:)

  14. Hi Gary, congratulations on your journey so far. Five years doing what you love is an amazing achievement. It’s interesting learning how your travel has changed along the way as well. I’m looking forward to beginning my solo travels this May :-)

  15. Congratulations on 5 amazing years. You are such a great example to everyone who’s on the fence about just getting out there and living their dreams.
    Cheers and best wishes for many more fantastic adventures.
    Thanks for sharing them with us.

  16. Five years is a HUGE deal! Congrats on making it this far… now that I’ve been on the road 15 months, I can fully appreciate what goes into traveling full time. You rock!

  17. Gary you are truly an inspiration. I’ve followed you for a few years now, (I don’t know exactly how many) and I’m simply amazed at how far you’ve come along. I don’t comment often, I simply choose to enjoy the not only the photographs, but the stories as well. Congratulations on your 5 year travelversary and I sincerely hope you keep it up for years to come. You give me hope, hope that in a few years I can start my own travels, maybe not in the large scope you have, but at least out of my own comfort zone.

  18. Congratulations Gary. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your travels. I look forward to following you for years to come.

  19. 5 years is a long time, and it is great that you still love what you are doing! Congrats!

  20. We gave up well paid jobs and started travelling in 2005. What an experience! The things that we have seen and done! We decided to come back to England last summer to spend some time with our family and six weeks later David was diagnosed with incurable cancer.

    Whatever happens we will always be grateful we lived while we were alive and followed our hearts.

  21. Congratulations Gary and thank you for your blog and photography, I am sure you are an inspiration to many including myself. Looking forward to giving up my day job and starting my travel adventure at the end of July. The flights are booked and I am very excited about it!

  22. Conrats Gary. I found your site a few months back when planning for our 8 month trip that we are nearly 2 months into. After just a short time, we already understand how challenging it can be to keep a blog going while traveling. I can’t even register traveling 5 years in my head, so cudos to you. It was your article on Scottevest, just before you got sponsored that led me to buying their Fleece and a couple of other items. Good luck on the rest of your adventures, I look forward to reading about them!

  23. This is so amazing Gary! Congratulations on all your accomplishments, you truly are an inspiration to the rest of us!

  24. Congratulations! and please keep going and keep inspiring :)

    an inspired newbie

  25. Congrats on 5 years, Gary! It sounds like you’re still loving it, and that’s definitely the most important part. Here’s to the next 5!

  26. Congratulations Gary..I’ve enjoyed tagging along on your journey, and you’ve been a bit of an inspiration to myself, albeit on a much smaller scale. All the best in the adventures to come….

  27. Congrats, Gary.

    Your blog was the first blog I ever read, and I’ve been following for at least 4.5 years. You were the inspiration for my first blog, and also my current one. The first blog post I ever wrote was a guest post for you about Yellowstone- and you can really tell it was my first. (If that post is still up here somewhere please remove it! How naive of me to think I was ready for something like that)
    Anyway, continuing best of luck- I hope our paths cross some day. (and I hope when they do I don’t act like an awestruck teenager :-) )

  28. Congrats Gary! What an amazing journey! I’m sure all of this has changed you in ways that is sometimes hard to explain. There are many stories and photos you’ve yet to share but thanks for sharing a part of it with us!

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