Life Lessons Learned From A Year On The Road

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” --Mark Twain


April 24th 2011…Easter Sunday. Appropriately enough, it’s the day that we flew out of San Francisco…ascending into the heavens on a jumbo jet to a destiny and future yet to be written.

365 days and nearly 50,000 miles later, the journey has been transformative and life-changing for both of us. On the surface it might appear that it’s been nothing but fun and laughter throughout.

The truth is, this past year was four quarters at Life University.  Most times it was enjoyable, as we explored new places and learned about new cultures.

Other times, it was rough…as we learned more about each other and our different thresholds of tolerance for everything from customer service, to foods, to creature comforts.

Through these challenges, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds in a very short period of time. This experience has made us stronger in every way, and has strengthened and deepened our love and appreciation for each other.

While we’ve learned so much in the past year, there are still so many lessons yet to be learned through this journey. Below are the most prominent ones we learned during our first year in the Study Abroad program at Life University.

Your health is the most valuable asset you have in your life.

In a year of travel, Jo and I have never gotten seriously ill.  We stocked up on all kinds of ointments, antibiotics, anti-malarial  medicines, and even a couple of epi-pens, but have never had to use them.

Other than the occasional upset stomach or headache, we haven’t gotten sick.  We directly attribute this to our commitment to eating healthy and maintaining our fitness while traveling.

Whether you are traveling or not, making your health a priority will go very far in improving the quality of your life. If you haven’t already, start a regular fitness and nutrition regimen. Your life can only improve by it.

A great resource for beginning a fitness program is our friend Steve Kamb’s site NerdFitness.

Traveling is not the same thing as vacationing.

Whenever we keep in touch with people back home, the conversation invariably ends with an encouraging “So glad to hear you’re enjoying your vacation.  Stay safe, and we’ll talk to you soon!”

Without a doubt we appreciate the words of encouragement and the well wishes from everyone back home.  However, life on the road is not all glitz and glamor.

Not to sound elitist…but the business of traveling is a much different affair compared to that of vacationing.  Have you ever noticed after coming back from a vacation you are twice as tired as you were when you left?

Why is that? Because a vacation is a project. You’ve got to decide when you’ll go, when you’ll leave, where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, what you’ll do, what you’ll eat, how much you’ll spend, and more. Not to mention visas if it’s an international trip.

And when you get to where you need to go, every day is filled with places to be and things to do. After all, you didn't exactly go on vacation to lay in bed all day long.

Now multiply that times ten. If you visit 10 countries in a year, that's how much effort it would be to travel long-term. Add to that maintaining a website and keeping it updated, and you get an idea of what our job has been for the past 12 months.

We're not complaining.  We're just clarifying.  Traveling, writing, and coaching is work.  Thankfully, it’s work that we love.

To live a rich and fulfilling life, we need less, not more.

We only started to understand this concept in the past three years. Whenever we wanted to travel, there was always the matter of managing our “stuff” before and after our trip. Not to mention, there was always less budget available for travel because all of our resources went to the upkeep of our stuff.

Having less stuff has allowed us to turn on a dime when necessary.  It has enabled us to have ultimate travel flexibility, and to change plans easily.

When you’re unburdened by things, it’s a truly liberating feeling. You have less to maintain, and you can spend more time and energy working on your dream or even working on improving yourself.

I don’t propose that you sell all your stuff off and become a minimalist. Although if that’s your goal there are resources we can suggest to help you. Adam Baker's Sell Your Crap(aff. link) program is a good place to start.

Most big dreams are held back not only by mental barriers, but also because they are crowded out by other things in your life competing for your attention. All the while, time runs out for you to make things happen.

Figure out what things are slowing down your progress to your dream, then ditch those things. Don't worry, you can always figure out a way to get those things back.  You can never get the time back that you lose by being distracted from your dream.

Don’t believe the hype in the news.

By the time we set off for our trip, we had already weaned ourselves from the news media for a year. We rarely watched TV, except for maybe the weather, and we spent most of our time either exercising or preparing for our launch.

Today's news media does an incredibly good job of paralyzing you through fear. Most of what they cover is sensationalized to the point of hysteria. There are definitely some stories that are of legitimate value, but most of what you'll see is useless noise. 

When we decided to tune all that noise out, we opened our minds to be able to experience so much more. We toured Burma for a month in February.  Yes, thatBurma.  The one that everyone's been avoiding due to fear of the ruling military junta.

Not once did we feel in danger, nor did we ever get robbed or held up. Every person we met was so open and friendly to us. Our taxi driver gave us a tour of the capital while we shuttled between our hotel to the bus no extra charge.

The most eye-opening for us was the amazing friendliness of the people we met in Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. We never encountered any militant anti-Western sentiments.

We were always greeted with open hearts and welcoming smiles. They seemed happy that others considered their country worthy of being visited.

Bottom line: While the number of truly dangerous places in the world can be counted on two hands, the truth is that anywhere you go…even your home country…is dangerous enough.

But that has never stopped you from stepping out your door each day.  Don't let that stop you from going for your dreams. Start by watching less news.

Being homeless is a state of mind.

If you’ve read our About page, you will know our decision to fulfill this dream of traveling the world included us leaving behind our material belongings and house.

Once we realized what we needed to eliminate in order to make this dream a reality, the decision to leave it all behind became so much easier to accept.

In the weeks leading up to our launch date, someone jokingly said: “So what does that mean, are you homeless now?”

You might never hear someone say that to you, but you may hear other words that are designed to be just as hurtful. Words designed to elicit a feeling of inadequacy or shame for what you are doing.

The truth is, we are far from being homeless.  A typical renter signs a yearly or even monthy lease. Jo and I consider ourselves “micro-renters”. Our leases are usually daily or weekly commitments.

We pay a property owner a specified sum of money in exchange for shelter at a pre-defined interval of time. This arrangement is commonly referred to as a landlord-tenant contract.

Coincidentally, we have been in Bangkok since March, having signed a monthly lease on a furnished studio apartment after our adventures in Burma.

We decided to hunker down to get more quality work done for you our valued readers here at Intrepid Motion.

Don't let anyone shame or guilt you into not pursuing your dreams. The bigger your dream is, the more people there will be to hold you back from it. Strengthen your heart and mind for this. Nothing worth doing comes easy.

If you have children, and they have the courage to share with you a fantastic dream of theirs, honor their bravery. Help them gain further confidence by offering to help them brainstorm what it would take to make their dream happen.

Most of all, be proud that they don't have a limited mindset about what is truly possible for their life. Suspend disbelief, and show them that you have the courage to support their dream.

Confidence goes a long way in making dreams a reality.  Your kids will only believe in themselves as much as they think you believe in them.  Your belief in their dreams means the world to them.

The end is never near if you're willing to see each day as a new beginning.

Jo and I set out on this journey not knowing how things would play out. Unlike our old way of traveling, we didn’t map out twelve months of travel in advance. We didn’t know our next destination until usually a few weeks prior to making our move.

With many things in life, you want to know the outcome before you set out onto the path. You need to plan every move, so that you can predict your results. You only want to play a game that you know you will win.

“I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.” --Neo, from the Matrix

Children don't worry about the future. They treat each waking moment as a new beginning.

Be like a child, and every day is a chance to begin again. There is no fear for what the future holds, for today is the only thing you know for sure that you have.

When we set sails for the world a year ago, we didn’t pretend to know what the final outcome of all this would be. We gave ourselves a year to “see how it goes”, and said we would decide at the anniversary whether we had reasons to continue.

We are grateful for all the support and love we have received from the remarkable people in our lives, including family, friends, fellow bloggers, and most of all you...our loyal readers.

We continue to be inspired and in awe of what people are truly capable of when they rally together to achieve big goals.

Admittedly, we have decided that we will continue this adventure, continue to learn more life lessons, and most important, we will continue to share those lessons with you right here at Intrepid Motion.

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