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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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Stef May 21, 2014 at 10:35 am

Congratulations on two years on the road. I loved your book. It was a great inspiration for me as I also quit my job and will do everything to live my dreams.
Stef recently posted..How to drink mate tea like an Argentine

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

Thanks Stef. I’m so glad you got a lot out of the book. Keep going, keep going, keep going (this, too, is my mantra).

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Tracey May 21, 2014 at 11:06 am

Thank you for taking us along with you! You are so wise beyond your 32 years Kim:) Congratulations on your amazing 2 year adventure!!!!!! I am so happy for you guys and excited to, for what ever is next.
Tracey recently posted..Colombia: A Heart warming First Meeting

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:06 am

Thank you Tracey. Sometimes I can’t believe all that can happen in two years. I remember when I used to work and, on a weekend, Brian and I would spend the whole day running around and outside. I was always so shocked at how long the days felt when I was really living them. I feel that way now all of the time. Like, two years but in some ways it feels like forever with all that we have been able to do and how much we have changed. I feel really, really lucky to have (and continue to have) this time.

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Quyen May 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Congrats on your journey so far! Having the time is the best gift isn’t it?
http://liveitinerantly.com/
Quyen recently posted..plan: quito, ecuador

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:06 am

Absolutely, time matters more than anything.

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Laura May 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

Thank you for taking us along over the past two years. The fact that you started out on my birthday (today) and the quote below have added up to one big sign for me! Time to make the shift in my own life. Not to the extent that you have, but I am working towards a lifestyle that will result in all you have described here:

“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.”

Peace to you~

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

Laura, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Peace to you too.

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Lauren May 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Congrats on your 2nd yr of travel! My husband and I have wanted to do what you guys are doing since we got back from one year of travelling in 2010. Very jealous! Ever since we got back to the UK we have been trying to work out how we could make it work – hopefully we will find out a way soon!

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:08 am

Hi Lauren, much luck to you as you find your way. Who knows where Brian and I would be now if we hadn’t ended up touring the U.S. with Backpacker, so many unexpected surprises pop up when you are out there- as I’m sure you know.

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Pauline May 21, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Wah! Congratulations on your 2-year-anniversary! It’s really inspiring to look through your pictures and to see what you have done!

P.s. I may be following your footsteps with the Camino later this year :)
Pauline recently posted..Come Running with Me: Vancouver

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

Oh Pauline, I hope you do! I was just at Trail Days in Damascus, VA and I saw a documentary on the Camino and it just took me right back there and brought up so many fond memories. You will love it.

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Rhonda May 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

A big hug and congrats to you both! I remember commenting on your ONE year anniversary and now another year has come and gone with more amazing experiences. Can’t wait to see what is next! Xoxo Jim & Rhonda
Rhonda recently posted..The Art of Overlanding

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

Thanks guys. I can’t wait to see what is next either. It’s crazy to think that literally ANYTHING is possible.

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Karisa May 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Congratulations on your two year travel anniversary! It’s so true that travel changes you. I lived/traveled abroad for about 15 months and coming home was HARD. So hard I’m leaving again in a few months. It’s a traveler’s life for me! <3 Happy travels to you both!!
Karisa recently posted..A Casual Rosé Wine Tasting

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:10 am

Oh, I do understand how hard coming home is. Such a shock. You feel so different and rearranged and yet everything at home seems to have not changed at all. How exciting that you are traveling again- where are you going (gathering inspiration for what we’ll do after this tour wraps up ;)).

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NZ Muse May 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm

So much of this resonated with me – especially realising that people are people no matter where you go, and that I am so much stronger than I thought.

Happy anniversary!
NZ Muse recently posted..A Kiwi abroad: 5 things that feel alien

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:11 am

Yes they are and yes you are. Thanks for the wishes!

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Najeeb May 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Inspiring and informational. Thank you!

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:16 am

You are welcome. Thank you for following along.

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Margaret | Destination Here&Now May 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Kim I just got tingles reading those last couple of pars. All power to the pair of you x
Margaret | Destination Here&Now recently posted..How about I paint you a river …

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:18 am

Thank you Margaret.

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Patti May 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm

All kinds of fabulous Kim! I look forward to the day our paths cross – and I know it will happen when it is supposed to. :)
Patti recently posted..The Proverbial Sardine in a Can ~

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:18 am

It totally will. Maybe this summer when we drive down Oregon into California- September I think. We have to at least have lunch!!

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Emily May 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Two years! Wow congratulations you two!! Since we’ve started our journey I feel we are on a similar learning curve. I think the biggest revelation is hearing my own inner voice and what this ‘Emily’ really has to say and think about things. It’s been such an amazing journey.
Emily recently posted..What to Know About Chile

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

You definitely learn a lot about yourself, don’t you? It’s all one big adventure :)

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heather May 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm

FUCK YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU FOR WRITING! FOR INSPIRING! FOR LIVING YOUR LIFE IN YOUR USUAL WAY THA T IS EXTRAORDINARY TO THOSE THAT ARE STILL LONGING FOR A DIFFERENT LIFE!

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

YES, someone who writes in all caps is my kind of girl :) THANK YOU!!

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Jade May 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Aw this is beautiful! You’ve taken life by the horns, if life has those, and it is truly inspiring. Thank you for always reminding me be thankful and positive.
Jade recently posted..Comment on Korean Temples: seen one, seen them all? by Journey Count

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

Thanks Jade. It really is an honor to know that I can help to inspire others- it is the biggest blessing of all!

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Victoria May 22, 2014 at 1:38 am

Congratulations! I remember when you left. Has been great following along these last two years!
Victoria recently posted..Enchanted in Utrecht

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

Thanks Victoria. I love following you and Steve as well. Hopefully we will meet up somewhere in the world.

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Ali May 22, 2014 at 6:37 am

Congrats!! Two years, that’s so exciting! I love reading things like this. The world really isn’t as scary as the news makes it out to be. But it’s so hard to really know that unless you go and see it for yourself. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the next two years (and beyond) take you!
Ali recently posted..Packing Made Simple: A Simple Guide to Packing Light e-book

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

Thanks Ali. I look forward to seeing what the next few years has in store for you and Andy too. XO.

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Beverley - Pack Your Passport May 22, 2014 at 6:45 am

Congratulations Kim! Man do I know how it feels to have been changed by travel – before I left England I was SO highly strung, I hated change, I hated being out of my comfort zone. Honestly? I was sometimes a bit of a nightmare to be around. Travelling has taught me to chill out a bit, to embrace change, appreciate small things, be grateful for things that are out of my control but ultimately make me a stronger person.

You’ve had such an amazing two years (full of highs and lows, I’m sure) – here’s to the next two, and many more to come! :)
Beverley – Pack Your Passport recently posted..12 Ways To Feel Like You’re Travelling Even When You’re Not

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

YES, YES, YES. Yes to all of it.

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Lisa - Wee Wanders May 22, 2014 at 8:46 am

Congratulations on your two years – what an incredible journey you have had!

I have to say this post has made me terribly excited about what the next two years might have in store for me – I set off on my travels in 5 weeks!
Lisa – Wee Wanders recently posted..Glasgow’s Braw Burgers

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

Ahahahaha!!!! FIVE WEEKS. I know how you are feeling right now!!! I am so incredibly excited for you and for what the future holds- get ready for an amazing adventure :)

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Gary May 22, 2014 at 9:10 am

Great post. I have loved following your journeys. I am sitting on the beach in Santa Teresa Costa Rica with my family right now trying to figure out when we will make travel and time together a permanent part of our lives.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and adventures!
~Gary

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

Thank you Gary. It sounds like you are in a wonderful place at the moment. It is a joy to share our adventures so thank you for reading!

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Aurora May 22, 2014 at 10:16 am

Love it! I remember connecting when I was traveling and you were prepping and now look at you! Fantastic!
Aurora recently posted..Spring in Brooklyn

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Can’t believe it has been such a long time :)

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Sarah Somewhere May 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

So beautiful! What a lovely reflection complete with absolutely gorgeous photos! What an adventure you have had and will continue to have. So many blessings to you both! Xxx
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..My unexpected awakening

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Sarah- and I’m so glad you were part of my adventure.

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Steve C May 22, 2014 at 11:20 am

Congratulations on your two your anniversary. I have to say, you’ve “Got Out More”. Been there, do’n that. You are an inspiration to all those who follow your blog.

I’m looking forward to seeing you guys; actually meeting you in person in Livermore, CA on (get this) 9-11! Nine-eleven has a special meaning for me as we were in Washington DC on that date, on vacation. Let’s hope we don’t see a huge plume of smoke rising above Livermore when you do your talk. Maybe lots of hot air, but no smoke!

By then, you might know where you’re headed next, after the tour. Or, maybe another vacation from your “vacation” with two months in Palolem again. (or, pick your beach)

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

We will definitely bring some hot air ;) It will be fun to meet you Steve- can’t wait! And I’m sure we’ll know what we’ll be doing in October by then!

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Sam May 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Awesome! Congrats to you and Brian! I can definitely relate to becoming more relaxed and accepting of what is after traveling… what a gift of travel! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us – it’s such a joy to follow along :)
Sam recently posted..The 14 hour road trip

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Thanks for following along Sam.

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Steve Whitty May 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Two years!!! Time has really flown by. I hope that you are keeping well. Keep on travelling.
Steve Whitty recently posted..Photo Essay – Coventry

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

We will keep on keeping on- like Brian said the other day, it started out as “travel” but now it is “life.”

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) May 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Congrats for following your dream. For telling the fear: “Thanks but no thanks”.
I am grateful for your writing. It’s always a joy.
One day – we will set out too (dog in tow!) and I will know there will be no regrets because …
Others like you two have blazed the trail for us and I know it will all be fine.

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Thank you!!! You are right, it will be fine. It will be better than fine!

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Renee May 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Congratulations on your two-year travel anniversary! I deeply admire that you and Brian broke with the society norm of working, basically, until death do you part, in favor of living your lives on your terms, and learning a lot about yourselves and this big, beautiful world in the process. I have really enjoyed reading about your travels and wish you many more travel adventures to come! Peace for your day.

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Kim May 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Thank you Renee. I’m so glad you’ve followed along- it is an absolute honor to share the journey.

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Carmel May 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

Two years! I can’t believe it. What an amazing adventure it has been. I’m so glad that we had this shared interest because I can’t imagine my life without you…even if we’re rarely on the same continent anymore, let alone city.
Carmel recently posted..AND SO, THE TIME HAS COME

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Kim May 23, 2014 at 6:32 am

Agreed Carmel. I look forward to the day we can sit down over a beer and talk- so much has happened in the last year!

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Corinne May 23, 2014 at 1:51 am

Congrats Kim! I think everyone can use a dose of “getting comfortable in my skin” and not worrying about what the rest of the world thinks. Own it. Be yourself. Enjoy life. It sounds like you are doing just that. Again, congratulations!
Corinne recently posted..The Stunning Cascades of Croatia’s First National Park

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Kim May 23, 2014 at 6:33 am

Thank you Corinne.

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Debbie May 23, 2014 at 2:16 am

Congratulations!! you are an inspiration to me! I would die to do the same thing but the unknown scares me. So I try visiting the world while I am stuck in a country, in a job..
keep going!
http://debsbug.blogspot.gr/
Debbie recently posted..Grand Canyon

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Kim May 23, 2014 at 6:34 am

The unknown is the hardest part– but if you can work through that fear you will see the unknown isn’t nearly as scary as your own imagination can be.

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Beau May 24, 2014 at 2:46 am

Nice work! I look forward to being inspired by your travels for another 2 years at the least!
Beau recently posted..Food, music and people!

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Kim May 25, 2014 at 5:55 am

Yes!!! 2 years at least, I hope!

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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling May 24, 2014 at 4:53 am

Congratulations on 2 years on the road! You are such an inspiration.

Tomorrow is my last day at work. My journey is a little different as we aren’t leaving for another 6 months, but leaving my day job is the first step. I’ve been at that job for 4.5 years and it’s a little hard to comprehend, it’s not really sinking in that I’m going. I feel underwhelmed. Was it like that for you?
Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..Chickening Out At Ta Keo

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Kim May 25, 2014 at 5:56 am

Well, to be honest it was kind of underwhelming leaving my job… until I realized I didn’t have a job anymore and then I FREAKED!! I remember running downtown shortly after I left my job (I worked downtown) and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t realize how much I’d identified with my job.

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Rashaad May 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Congratulations!

I’m sorry I haven’t read your blog as much recently as I should have but to travel around the world is an amazing experience. And I’m happy to have read about it :)
Rashaad recently posted..Food, Movies and Rain

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Kim May 29, 2014 at 5:37 am

Thanks Rashaad.

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Sarah Ram May 31, 2014 at 7:14 am

Hey Kim & Brian,
I’m still here following your wonderful journeys around the world – just can’t believe its been 2 years, wow – time really does fly. Kim, your words and enthusiasm still inspire and move me – if I ever need that shove towards a different future, all I need do is check out your blog, and I instantly feel motivated and empowered – thank you! Although I have yet to begin my ‘Big Adventure’, you make it seem possible – and you’ll be the first to know when it starts!! Love to you both, Sarah x
Sarah Ram recently posted..My faves!

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Kim June 1, 2014 at 6:24 am

That is a huge compliment Sarah, thank you. And I can’t wait to hear when you begin your big adventure. Ever onward!

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Maddie June 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Echoing everyone else I can’t believe it’s ben two years already. Paul and I were just chatting the other day about how much we admire both of you for working so hard to completely change your lives, you knew what you wanted and went after it at full pelt. It’s incredibly admirable and I’m glad I get to see it unfold.
Maddie recently posted..Hull – the 2017 UK City of Culture

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Kim June 4, 2014 at 6:23 am

Thanks Maddie :) Still fighting! I feel like we aren’t there yet but (hopefully) getting closer every day.

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Nevaeh Levi June 5, 2014 at 3:06 am

Hi Kim, you said that you quit your jobs and sold everything you owned. So, how did you manage to live after your travels? And, do you have a breakdown on your travel to Brazil?

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Kim June 5, 2014 at 5:46 am

I don’t have a breakdown of our time in Brazil, we spent only a few days there. If you read the last few pages of my blog you will see what I am doing after international travel- I do have a job, but it is not your typical kind.

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Oliver June 7, 2014 at 6:38 am

What a wonderful ode to travel and life in general!! Kim, it’s a pleasure to see how you soak up the things around you, embrace every single of these moments and I’m sure this retrospective must feel a bit like looking through a kaleidoscope, huh!?
Congrats and may there be many more remarkable milestones on your way and may this feeling of “home” never escape you – no matter where you are…
Oliver recently posted..In South America ~ Vincent Urban

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Kim June 9, 2014 at 9:35 am

Thanks so much Oliver.

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Jimmy Dau June 8, 2014 at 8:42 am

Congratulations. Hard to imagine it’s only been two years as you’ve accomplished so much! #inspired
Jimmy Dau recently posted..The golden hour in Bagan – Photo essay.

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Kim June 9, 2014 at 9:37 am

Thanks Jimmy. Sometime it feels like I’ve just begun and other times it feels like we’ve been at this forever!

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Amy June 28, 2014 at 5:27 am

Seeing your journey laid out like this in pictures and reflections really shows how far you’ve come – it’s inspiring and I totally agree that time is the greatest gift of all.
Amy recently posted..After the Adventure: Returning Home from Travel

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