When I flew to Europe 15 months ago to start my life as an expat I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know a single person in Madrid. I had no place to live, no bank account and no local phone number. I had started this blog a month before my one-way flight to Spain thinking that I would post updates weekly, even daily, with all of my adventures. I seriously underestimated how badly the travel bug had bitten me. I spent my first two weeks traveling solo throughout Italy and thus began my life as a traveler. I woke up every morning and set out to see historical buildings, art, and cuisine that I had learned about throughout my education. I’ve been sharing my experiences on Instagram and thus my desire to document my experiences here faded. When you’ve visited over 30 countries in a year there is hardly enough time, or WiFi, to upload an Instagram post, let alone an entire blog entry. But I want to change that. I promise to update more often with stories from the past year, and from my current travels.
Exploring the world’s perse cultures quickly became an addiction. This really wasn’t much of a surprise. I grew up in an international family and have had a passport since birth. But now I was traveling differently, I was seeking experiences in order to develop my own worldview. As of publishing time for this blog entry I have explored 44 countries. Through three-day weekend explorations around Europe, primarily solo, I geared up the courage to head off to the far east alone for the holidays. I spent nearly a month exploring Hong Kong, Thailand and spent a day in Laos. During this trip, I started to become obsessed with sustainable, ethical travel. I sought out opportunities that supported conscious consumerism. I bathed baby elephants at Chai Lai Orchid, indulged in hour-long Thai massages provided by former female inmates, and drank coffee raised by local tribes. I realized that this is what I was truly passionate about, finding ways to contribute to society in a meaningful way while I traveled.
In May, I left Madrid for Florence. I’ve made a lot of mistakes the past year, particularly in business. I made disappointing decisions even though my intuition was screaming at me and telling me to run the other direction, and to run fast. Luckily even a major wrong turn ended up being a blessing in disguise. Each mistake led to an even greater self-understanding, and ultimately a bigger adventure. In July, I started traveling full-time and spent the summer in the Balkans.
I’ve been told as many travel cliches as you can imagine, and I love every single one of them. You’re a true rolling stone. You’re as free as a bird. You’re at home wherever you are. All true. I finally feel like I am living a life worth living. My version of normal now is to be in a new country every week or so. Lately, I had started to wonder exactly how much of the world I had visited and wanted to see it sprawled out on a map. A friend told me about a great free global map app, been. 44 countries may seem impressive but to put things in perspective, this is only 17% of the world! This globetrotter has a lot more ground to cover. I am thrilled that I will be spending the next year (or more) exploring Asia. I’ve only seen 1% of Africa and have so much more to discover there. I hope to spend time in Oceania. Did you know it is a fairly easy process for Americans to get a 1-year work visa in New Zealand and Australia?
Where have you been? Tell me in the comments!