A few years ago, I took a travel writing class at NYU. As an exercise, the professor told us to spend fifteen minutes writing a response to this question: Why do you write? At the time, I spent fourteen minutes starting into space and one minute scribbling down the following: I want to make people laugh and I want them to like me. Pretty profound stuff, right? Well, I’ve had a little more time to contemplate the question.
I can vividly remember the first travel blog I ever found. I was living out the quintessential suburban high school experience – SAT prep classes, cheerleading practice, prowling the local mall and planning the kind of after prom party that strikes fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. Yet I wanted something big, something a little different – I had a restless spirit. I just didn’t know how to articulate it into those words yet.
My parents were pretty adventurous, but they were extremely dedicated to their careers. Our family trips most commonly involved visiting family in Florida or Illinois or oddly to Portland. I had been abroad a few times – I had gone to band camp in Canada (don’t let the cheerleading thing fool you into thinking I was cool), tagged along on my parents’ weekend work trip to the Bahamas, and even taken a family trip to Spain to visit my cousin who was studying abroad. My parents used to call me The Bulldozer for my knack at getting things to go my way. My crowning moment earning that nickname came when I convinced them to hand over their credit cards and allow me, at age thirteen, to plan, book, and lead a family trip to Belize based on a page I had torn out of a Conde Naste Traveler magazine at the orthodontists’ office. Let’s just say they were going through a rough time. Basically, I had a well-established case of wanderlust.
I wish I could remember what I was searching for when I came upon the site that would change my web-browsing forever, that first travel blog, ThirteenMonths.com (sadly now defunct.) I remember bounding into my mom’s room with my laptop, shoving in front of her, and breathlessly pointing, “See! Look what these people did!” At the time, I only knew travel as something you did on the week or two of the year that you weren’t at your desk. The idea that these people could take thirteen months — three hundred and ninety five days! – and dedicate them to exploring the world was simply astounding to me.
Today, more than seven years and somewhere around seven hundred thousand travel blogs later, I have become my own version of those bloggers. In fact, I’ve now been on the road for more than twenty seven months. I’ve found ways to earn income that weren’t dependent on location. I’ve found methods for living with less. I’ve white water rafted in Indonesia, partied at a remote island rave in Honduras, sailed from Greece to Turkey, had a motorcycle stolen in Laos, learned underwater videography in the Cayman Islands, seen some great beaches in Vietnam, had my heart broken in Thailand, to hiking Cinque Terre, and blogged about every step along the way.
I respect and understand those who choose other paths – to raise a family, to pursue a career, to live simple and stationary. But I think what I was struggling to find the words for all those years was simply that I am looking to live a life dedicated to adventure. Finding that first travel blog gave me a glimpse into the hearts, minds and lives of others who were looking to do the same. That, in turn, set in motion a series of events that allowed me to make it happen.
So that is why I blog — maybe someday, someone somewhere will stumble upon it, and there they will find an answer to a question they didn’t even know yet to ask.