Reflections on two years of travel

by Kim on May 21, 2014 · 77 comments

Two years ago today Brian and I quit our jobs, sold everything we owned, and drove away from life as we knew it to explore the world.

It was the boldest, scariest and best decision of our lives.

Rio Christ the Redeemer

Touristing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rickshaw Run India

My teammates and I preparing to drive a little orange rickshaw through India.

Annapurna Circuit Nepal

Backpacking through the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal.

Gili Meno Indonesia

Snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia.

Camino de Santiago

On the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Beer in Belgium

Drinking beer in Belgium on our tour of Europe by train.

Biking Vietnam

Bicycling through Vietnam.

We had no idea what we were getting in to when we packed our few remaining possessions in our backpacks and hit the road. You can never really know such things. Any huge change is a blind leap, an act of faith. But I think a rich life is filled with these milestones, the moments when the what ifs outweigh the what is and the scales topple towards adventure.

Two years ago I was such a perfectionist, so high-strung, convinced I could control the world if I controlled every aspect of my own life. I’ve changed in the past 720 days. I’m so much more relaxed and better at accepting what is. I’m kinder, not because traveling made me nice but because I have more time to stop when a car breaks down or pause for a conversation or write a thank you note. I have time, and that is the greatest gift of all.

Amazon rain

Enjoying a downpour in the Amazon Rainforest.

Traveling has taught me so much. Traveling shows me where I am strong and where I could use a bit of improvement (to put it mildly). Some days I surprise myself and some days I disappoint but always I am forced to look at my life and my place in humanity with new eyes. Traveling holds a mirror up and forces me to see my life from a different perspective.

Bali dance

Watching a traditional dance at a temple in Bali.

In the past two years I have learned to balance over a squat toilet as still as a meditating monk. I have learned to dodge traffic like a human pawn in a game of Frogger. I have learned to sleep in a tent for weeks on end and walk across a country and write a book and stand in front of a roomful of people and speak without a quivering voice. I have learned to say at least three words in a dozen languages. I have learned to trust strangers and laugh with strangers and dance with strangers and share a meal with strangers and I have learned that I can forget, in the end, that we were ever strangers at all.

I have learned that people are good. Despite what you see on TV, people are overwhelmingly, shockingly good. The fact that I have navigated the world twice around via handshakes and smiles and points-in-the-right-direction is proof of how good people are. I have learned not to watch TV. I have learned not to trust what I hear in the news. I have learned that, in order to know anything for sure, I must see it with my own eyes and hold it in my own hands.

Peru

Fishing with a new friend in Peru.

I have learned to be comfortable in the world and in my own skin too. That’s because Brian and I have learned how to make each place we lay our heads at night home. I have a memory from childhood. My mom, at the end of a long day, would sink down into her chair and say, Home Sweet Home. And now I say it too, at the campsite and the homestay and the hostel and even, sometimes, when I’ve made a little nest on the airport/train station/bus station floor. “Home Sweet Home,” I say, and I mean it, because in these two years I have made the world my home.

Airport floor India

Sleeping in the Delhi, India airport.

It’s true that my bank account isn’t growing in the way it was before I quit my 9-5 job and I don’t own the things that most 32-year olds own. But that was the stuff I had to give up in order to live this extraordinary adventure. And it was worth it.

I remember with vivid clarity walking out of my office building for the last time two years ago. I thought, shouldn’t there be horns blowing or trumpets blaring or a street lined with people cheering? Where is my parade? But the biggest moments, the ones that change you forever, are sometimes marked by a simple slip out the door. And so instead I whispered goodbye and walked out of those glass doors for the last time to start the rest of my life. I have never looked back. I cannot stress this enough: I do not have a single regret.

And so today Brian and I raise our beers to the two craziest, most beautiful and life changing years. We look forward to what comes next, whatever in the world that might be.

Thank you all for continuing to be a part of my journey. It is a joy and an honor to share this adventure with you.

Read my reflections on one year of travel.

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