Happy Birthday to Me. At 5:56 pm EST time, I will officially turn 27. I have done so much in that time. Every time I go to write a blog post for this site, I start going thru my pictures and I can’t believe all the places I have been and things I have done. As it stands, right now.
I have been to 31 countries, 49 US States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 3 US Territories. I have visited just over three-quarters of the US National Parks. I have seen the abandoned city of Pripyat, trekked to the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and seen the northern lights in Iceland. Just to name a few of my adventures.
In early May 2009, I ended my high school career quoting Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” At that moment, if you asked me if where I would be 8 year. My answer would not be running a travel blog and traveling the USA of a Field Engineer. But that’s what I am doing. Life evolved and passions change.
Life has been an adventure that has taught me many things. Here are just a few of the things I have learned while traveling.
Take a moment to enjoy the little things.
Sometimes life has us caught up in the big picture we forget to enjoy the journey. Look up, look down. To be cliche but, stop and smell the roses. When we travel, we stop to take in the view and enjoy the wildlife but yet when we are home we don’t look at where we live with the same appreciation. I don’t know how many times I have seen the view of the valley from my parents front hill but it always stops and takes my breath away.
Don’t sweat the little stuff
Sh*t happens. Things break. Plans go wrong. That is life. I have learned that most things can be fixed with a little thinking, some luck, and maybe a little cash.
I often get asked how I travel so much. The simple answer is I don’t wait to book a ticket. I decide I am going to go somewhere and I book my flight. I might make a phone call to see if someone can go with me and ill adjust my dates a bit but there is no perfect time for travel. If you wait for the perfect moment then you will never go anywhere.
Too many times, I have seen people needing an answer for everything before they will do anything. I don’t. I might do a little bit of research before I do something but I don’t need to research need every answer. I just need enough to makes some determinations and then I go.
Trust your instincts and trust yourself
I have learned to trust my instincts. They are rarely wrong (ok more like mostly never wrong). I have enough trust in myself and my instinct that I know what risks I am willing to take and what risks I am not. I am fairly fast at thinking things thru and coming up with solutions to problems on the fly.
Don’t be afraid
Fear is the enemy. It is a healthy enemy but it is the enemy. If you are always worrying about what might go wrong then you are focused on the what ifs not the right now. I am afraid that things will go wrong when I travel. Yes, yes I am but at the same time, I don’t focus on it. It all truth, the most dangerous thing I do in my life is get in a car. Fear is good but I have learned not to let it stop me from doing something I want to do.
Do I have a five-year plan? Sort of. I have places I would like to be but at the same time, Long-term plans are a good idea but don’t get so focused on them that you stop taking chances and see where they will lead. Moving to Africa after college was nowhere in my life plan when I started college but the opportunity presented itself and I took it.
Don’t listen to naysayer
I wish I had a quarter for every person who told me I was going to die, be kidnapped, or that what I am doing isn’t safe. Really I wish I had a quarter for each time. I would have a couple of plane tickets from those quarters. Yet here I am, I am not dead, not maimed, and mostly uninjured. I have learned to tune these people out. I get that you think it’s dangerous to travel alone but at least I travel. I don’t let that fear (back to a previous point) stop me. The naysayers are welcome to their opinion but it’s their opinion and it’s my life.
How lucky I am
I am incredibly lucky. I was lucky to be born to two financially responsible parents. We were mid-upper middle class. We didn’t live an expensive lifestyle but I didn’t want for much (other than a horse, I never got the horse I wanted for Christmas). But seriously, I have an average childhood with parents who loved me and didn’t have to do without so I could play soccer. We took a few nice vacations to international desitions.
My parents took my education seriously and always encouraged me to do my best. They instilled a love of learning and reading in me. I am lucky that my parents cared and were involved in my activities but they didn’t force me into to many things (I have forgiven them for forcing me to play soccer when I was 4 1/2 given I later fell in love with the sport.)
Their financial responsibility allowed me to attend my first choice college and graduate without any college debt. That is a huge blessing that I don’t have to the burden of college debt to pay off.
Hard work pays off
Life is a mixture of hard work with a little luck. I definitely had some great luck in my life but I have had to work hard to get where I am. I pushed myself in high school to graduate top of my class in high school. I pushed myself in college to get my engineering degree. Out of college, I have taken jobs that push my limits and challenge me. I got a degree that helps support me in the life I want (although I don’t think this is the exact plan I had when I was 19 and decided I was following my parents’ footsteps and getting an engineering degree).
What life lessons have you learned while traveling the world?