Seven months of time has passed since we said our goodbyes to our families, packed everything we could into our backpacks, and left Indianapolis for Santiago, Chile. When I think about all of the wonderful experiences, places we have traveled to, and people we have met during this time, I am so grateful for all that I have been able to see and the sense of vitality and freedom that has come with our journey so far.
As I say goodbye to Europe and anxiously anticipate our travel to India, I realize my new found freedom has enabled me to reflect on our travels and in turn, learn new things about myself.
We spend so much of our lives working. Our career takes up a large portion of our day/night but should not define who we are. What should define you though is how you treat others and help others. Throughout our travels, I have come to realize that “success” has nothing to do with the amount of money earned. Success is about doing something that makes you want to jump out of bed every morning. Success is loving yourself. Success is loving what you do. Success is being happy.
This world is a beautiful place
This world, simply put, is beautiful. With each new place we visit, there is beauty and wonder to be seen. Whether it is a geyser field, salt flat, or cave in San Pedro de Atacama, the Inca ruins in Cusco, Peru, or the sandy white beaches, volcanoes, or wildlife in the Galapagos Islands, it is truly a magical place for us to be.
Beauty is all around us; sunsets, the sound of the wind blowing through the fields and trees, the moon reflecting on the sea, the sound of waves coming in from the ocean, the stars in the night sky…it is pure magic.
Know your weaknesses
After seven months of travel, I can honestly say that Matt and I are a pretty good team. We divide and conquer certain tasks that need to get done; booking Airbnb stays and flights, grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, setting up doctor appointments, etc. With that being said, I know what I am good at and what I need to work on.
For example, I tend to not do much research on a place prior to our arrival. What typically happens is I may help pick out an Airbnb prior to our stay but it basically ends there. The thought of planning out an itinerary is daunting to me and seems like a waste of time…weather happens, maybe when we arrive we see something different along the way that sparks our interest, take up a new suggestion from a newfound friend along the way, etc., and having this planned out itinerary that can change at any point seems like a lot of wasted time, energy, and effort to me. What ends up happening is Matt will ask me what I want to do once we arrive at our destination and I will say, “I don’t care”, which in turn makes him feel like he now has to plan more things.
My non-existent sense of direction means I have now explored 2 continents and 10 countries with only the faintest idea of where I am at any given time unless I have Matt with me or my iPhone Google maps pulled up in my hand. Matt and I joke all the time that I have no internal compass and he often will “test” me to see if I know where I am going. For example, we will walk to the beach from our Airbnb, stay a couple of hours, walk back, and he will intentionally walk past the entrance to our home just to prove a point that I am unaware of where we are.
With the aforementioned being said, I have made it a point to become better at learning directions. I try to get out and take walks by myself to familiarize myself with the area in which we are staying and I always have my phone with GPS on me. (I also have zero shame in asking anyone for directions if I am lost.)
Just say “hello”
Mostly I have found that you meet people by accident, like sitting next to them on a ferry, or in a restaurant, or on a walk home from church. I have found that meeting people, like truly meeting people and having conversations with people requires two things to happen. First, you have to be social. This requires that you get out and do social things; go to restaurants, bars, beaches, parks, social events, etc. Second, you have to have learned how to trust the unknown and take a chance; say yes to an invite to a stranger’s home for a glass of wine, offer to cook a meal for a new friend, be willing to go on an adventure even if you don’t feel up for it. This world is full of good and generous people. With a little effort and trust, you can meet new friends who will inspire you and enlighten you.
Follow your dreams
We are capable of doing whatever we put our minds to. Simply put, the difference between who you currently are and what you want to be, is what you do. Nothing changes if nothing changes, right?
One of the biggest determining factors of whether or not our dreams become a reality is if we take action on them. I am not suggesting this is an easy thing to do. Most of us have that little inner voice telling us “this is impossible”, so we must take the first step towards our dreams and decide we are not going to stay where we currently are.
Throughout our travels, we have met several people who have told us how “lucky” we are to be traveling the world. I always politely say it has absolutely nothing to do with luck and everything to do with following our dream to travel the world. Our dream became a goal which then became a plan which we put into action and now we are living it.
When your instincts tell you to do something that upsets your current plans or may seem unreasonable to others, follow your passion; go where your dreams take you. In the end, we only regret the chances we did not take.
Life is a constant journey of growing and refining who we are. Trust the journey. Find the beauty in everyday things. Own who you are and live the life of your dreams.