My family and I have been traveling, working, and living in different cities for the past year. During this adventure, we’ve lived in San Francisco, Boston, Honolulu, and Philadelphia.
Last week we concluded our final leg of the journey with a 10-day drive from Philadelphia to Durango, CO. As I sat down, with a cup of coffee, this morning to write to you, I decided to share with you what I’ve learned in a year of travel.
What have you learned from traveling? Hit reply, to tell me.
Your commitment will be tested
In the context of the hero’s journey, the hero’s commitment is always tested. And we were!
T-Minus 7 Days: Discovered our van was not up to the trip. We bought a newer van.
Day 2: Noticed a nail in the sidewall of the tire. I pulled it out. Air started hissing…I carefully put the nail back in, drove to the tire store for a new tire.
Day 3: Lulu, our dog, eats all of our chocolate. We spent the remainder of the evening researching, “what to do if your dog eats chocolate” and taking action.
Day 4: Culture Shock sets in as we arrive in Bay Area.
Day 5: Locks cut and road bike stolen.
All of these events tested our commitment to the adventure. We could have stayed home when we faced the cost of a newer van. We could have returned home having decided it was too much change.
And when we recommitted to our adventure, the daily challenges dropped away, as if the Universe decided to allow us to pass.
Get out of your comfort zone
Getting out of our comfort zone was part of the reason for traveling. To assist we bought a deck of Sneaky Cards – a fun game where you pass along cards to strangers by doing embarrassing things.
Buying a stranger a cup of coffee, laying down in public, giving a card to someone without them knowing, and taking a selfie with a stranger were just some of the ways I was challenged.
From this, I learned how fear and social constraints could hold me back if I choose to let them.
Explore your world
Our intention was to explore cities and areas we were living. We bought Lonely Planet travel guides, Googled the must do things, and went out of our way to live like a local and a visitor.
New friends would comment that we were doing things they never had in their hometown. And we too realized that we’d explored more in these far-flung cities than we had southwest Colorado.
I can’t wait to get back home to explore.
10,000 steps – good for health and soul
With only one vehicle, I’ve done a lot of walking this year. To be exact, I’ve taken 3,481,540 step or 1,420 miles.
Like so many things, what I thought might be an inconvenience has turned out to be a blessing.
I’ve lost weight, become healthier, and I have discovered a love of walking. The opportunity to slow down, connect with my surroundings, and see new and different things each time I walk has enlivened my soul.
Security comes through relationships
Our adventure has helped me see my belief that I’m independent and must only rely on me, as a myth. The truth is we live in an interconnected world, and my well-being is dependent on others.
Never has this been more apparent as friends and acquaintances opened their homes and community to us. Without this support, it would have been nearly impossible to take the leap of faith required to start and continue this year of travel.
Our vulnerability was met with generosity and connection.
Find hidden gems
My wife and son say it’s hard to buy gifts for me. As my birthday approached, they wanted to know what I wanted. As usual, I said, “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
Not wanting more stuff to lug around I began thinking about an experience we could have as a family. Somehow I found Big City Hunt – a self-led scavenger hunt designed to help you get to know your city and places you visit.
As we explored Philadelphia using clues to find well-known landmarks and hidden gems I found that every place has a story to tell if I’m willing to see with new eyes.
Want more serenity, consider less stuff
Our condo in Durango is 863 square feet – small by most people’s standards, so we have fewer possessions than most people. When packing, we donated a lot to charity, filled a 5’ x 8’ storage unit, left what our renters could use, and packed our van to the gills.
We began asking critical questions: Do I need this? Will I use it? How long will it last? Could I borrow it? Could I do without it? Where will I put it?
We never touched much of what we brought with us. We can’t remember most of what’s in storage. We learned to live with less. And we’re happier with less stuff.
13 weeks, time for transformation and play
Cheri, my wife, was working as a traveling speech therapist. Her contracts dictated where we went and how long we stayed. Each contract was for 13 weeks. One-quarter of a year – one season.
I learned that this was enough time to make a significant transformation. I lost 25 pounds. Malcolm trained for his first triathlon. Cheri decided on her next career.
13 weeks has 26 weekend days. Nearly a month of vacation-like play. Unlike our typical vacation, we didn’t run from activity to activity. We carefully scheduled something significant for most weeks. Knowing if we didn’t plan it wouldn’t happen.
I plan to maintain an awareness of 13-week blocks, making time for transformation and play.
Sometimes I’m gripped by fear and worry. My mind is filled with thoughts of all the things that might go wrong. They seemed very real at 3 am.
Life can be difficult, stressful, and filled with risks. Living a life of purpose can add to the stress.
Sometimes my worry makes me want to hide and play it safe. When I breathe, I know that a life of adventure comes with possible risks, but playing it safe comes with the certainty of a smaller less vibrant world.
I must continue to remind myself to chose adventure.
My hope for you is that you will have opportunities to live a life of adventure.
Live a Bold and Authentic Life