State of the Nation(s): Three Months Down

Today is June 17th, 2015. I flew out of LAX on March 17th, 2015. That means I’ve been traveling for three full months already.

What.

That seems crazy to me. And somehow it can feel like I’ve been traveling much, much longer than that. Other times, it feels much, much shorter.

But the consensus is in: Life is awesome out here, and I’m not nearly finished.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

Days abroad: 92

Countries visited: 12 (not counting the night I spent sleeping in Indonesia)

Total miles traveled: 36,791*

Budget: 60% spent (only $50 in Norway…I am the greatest)

Nights spent couchsurfing: 13

Dirty, stinky weeks spent in campervans: 2

Flights taken: 18

Trains taken: 7

Trains broken down, while I was riding: 2

*Only calculated train ride and flight distances from major point to major point (does not include, for example, miles traveled in Iceland or Tasmania via campervan)

Hmm, that’s all I can really think of at the moment. But that’s a lot of everything.

By my standards, today’s will be a short post. As you know, I’ve been writing up experiences in each country and peppering those in with some blogs I consider more thoughtful and important about life, people and the world in general.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed following along thus far. I’ve enjoyed writing. Speaking of writing, let’s kick this thing off properly with a few amazing things I can take from this journey:

  • It has reinvigorated my desire to write

That passion was never extinguished in the first place, but it was placed on unpaid leave while I worked, experienced life in San Francisco, and focused on many other noble pursuits like reality show contests and meme creation abilities. Since stepping foot in Australia, I’ve felt a call to writing stronger than any before. Meandering through places like the Philippines and Iceland just makes the call ring louder with their unique characters and incredible settings.

Now, I feel the want — no, the need — to keep updating this blog and to do so with ultimate effort put forth. I need to keep recording each experience in my journal. I need to express my love for many of these countries in the form of a story, poem, or something else entirely. And I need to take what I’ve learned and apply them to the constant swarm of novel ideas buzzing around my brain.

My self-inflicted writer’s block (I feel very strongly that writer’s block is not a thing until a writer lets it be a thing, and I’m guilty) has been smashed into a billion pieces and it’s just as exciting, overwhelming and inspiring as this trip has been.

  • It has introduced me to unforgettable people and places

People are so awesome. I knew that, but sometimes I forget. If there’s one thing I’d consider a theme of my trip so far, it’s the beautiful, thoughtful people who inhabit every inch of our planet. I’ve met so many new friends who have a drive to create and sustain things for the world, whether through business, music, art or social pursuits. Then there are the extremely trusting, generous folks who have opened their homes to me, who in many cases, are complete strangers. And the other hostel-hoppers, couchsurfers and train riders who share a similar thirst for adventure (and are quick to share snacks, drinks, card games and conversations).

Equally as exciting to me is the realization that my preconceived notions about many people and places have been turned upside down. I had pre-existing stereotypes about “the people” in many of these countries. So far, most of the negative aspects of these stereotypes have been completely disregarded as I continue to meet interesting person after interesting person. I’ve really enjoyed seeing happiness, curiosity and love expressed in so many different people across different cultures, languages and religions.

Not to mention the 12 countries and countless cities I’ve wandered through. From rainbows in Australia to beaches in Asia to waterfalls in Iceland to lakes in Sweden, I’m truly fortunate to have stumbled upon some of the most beautiful places in the world.

  • It’s lived up to the challenge

You may recall that one of the primary reasons I left so much behind and took off on this trip was almost a dare to improve myself and expand my horizons. You also may recall that it’s totally working. I have a long way to go yet, but I’m incredibly proud of what has been accomplished so far.

The numbers at the top of this post don’t take into account the effort I’ve expended traveling solo through many unfamiliar places, including countries where I could barely get by with English. They don’t consider the miles hiked up slippery, jagged rocks or through deathly hot conditions. They don’t cover the exhausting task of meeting new people from all over the world every few days and gelling into cohesive, kick-ass traveling teams.

Very little has come easy for me so far, and that’s a good thing. With each person I meet and leave behind; with each flight delay, train breakdown or blistered foot; with each venture into a new city containing only what WikiTravel could teach me; with each couch, floor or train station bench I sleep on, I’m becoming a more independent, inspired, educated person.

I know we’re verging on broken record territory here, but I have to encourage everyone again to get out and travel. I don’t mean taking BART to the city for a day (though that sounds fantastic, too!) or a long weekend in five-star hotels in Mexico. I mean take some significant time off, go somewhere completely foreign and just…walk. Explore. Engage. Or something else that doesn’t sound entirely like an awful marketing slogan.

Anyway, the point stands. I’m living proof. It’s only been three months and I’ve already learned more about myself and the world than I ever expected to. Certainly more than I had in many years prior, combined. It was, is, and always will be the way to go for me.

Here’s to three more months, and then three more after that, and then three more after that, and then…

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