Why I Decided to Travel Full-Time
Here we go...
The day has finally come to share some news, and it’s both terrifying and exhilarating, as big no-turning-back life decisions usually are. I turned in my resignation letter last week and will soon be saying goodbye to my job of five years. I’ll have a short couple weeks to get organized, visit with family and friends, and then from there, I’ll board a plane with my one-way ticket to New Zealand and step into one of my most anticipated and daunting adventures to date.
I decided on this path nine months ago on June 4, 2017 and it was a decision I made in less than a day. Last summer was a series of hardships that sailed in on waves and dragged me under. There in the dark, deep water, I was spinning wildly, searching for the light and the way up, before I couldn’t hold my breath any longer. For about two weeks in particular there was a relentless beating of bad news. All at once it felt like a massive ripple effect with no one untouched: my family, my friends, my friends’ families, co-workers, loved ones...in summary, everyone. Our journeys may be different, but we know they all include a lifetime of mountains and valleys. I’m consistently amazed by the burdens we all hold and how universal it is to keep our pain just below the surface while we carry on through each day. God and the generous people in my life are the only reasons I stay afloat through the storms. Then together, we make it to better days where the sun breaks through.
During the whirlpool of one of those weeks, I wasn’t sleeping. My mind would race for hours while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, only to then wake up repeatedly through the night. It was a busy week at work that included an all-day event on Saturday too, so by the time Sunday came I was desperate for rest. The message at church that day focused on servant leadership and choices and was centered around a passage from 2 Samuel about King David and his soldiers. The story describes the best of his army, thirty equally accomplished and able men, and goes on to highlight three of them that stood apart because of their kingdom commitment. We see David express a desire for water from a well in Bethlehem where he grew up, which is currently under enemy occupation. It was not a command for his soldiers, yet these three still chose to risk their lives in service of their king. When they returned victorious, David was so touched by their sacrifice that he would not drink the water but poured it out to God. In the end, with all things equal, it’s not the talents of the men that made them best suited to take on the task -- when three of the men obediently said YES to the journey, it was simply their actions that separated them from others. The idea of choosing YES resonated with me that day, and from there I knew what I was meant to do. If you’ve ever had a voice inside of you nudging you to do something hard but necessary, and you think of that voice as God, then you know the type of reckoning I’m describing here -- it’s a voice that can spark like a bright whisper or burn like a bolt of lightning. Follow the soul call. It said surrender this life that you know, and step into the unknown.
Through those moments I was reminded, just as you’d expect, of how fleeting and urgent our time here is. We are all contained by it. I was reminded that while we get to pursue truth, we are not guaranteed all the answers. The mystery demands our courage and calls us to depend on something greater than ourselves. I am immensely grateful for the past 5+ years and for my life as it looks right now. I love the people in my life. I love living in California where the mountains meet the ocean. I love the sunshine and sounds and style of this place. I love my team at work. I love the things I’m learning and creating. There is joy to be found in every day. It is all so very familiar and I will miss it good while I’m gone. I recognize much of this will be different when I return, but the important people will remain. Right now, I’m not concerned with what it will mean to be back, what I’ll do and where I’ll go. Right now, I’m focused on being uncomfortable and trusting that this is the space where I need to be, a space where I am not controlling the outcome. There is nothing predictable or assured in my tomorrow. Then again, that’s true for all of us. I’m so ready to take things one day at a time instead of having complicated expectations for the timeline of my life. True faith has always been an invitation to trials and it’s about time I sprint past words into action and let this wild chapter unfold. I trust myself, I trust my Creator, and I will always bet on us, together.
Each year has looked so different -- different homes, relationships, projects, and routines, but they’ve also gone by so fast and now blur together. It’s made me question the bubble I live in, as gorgeous and golden as it is, and what I value. It’s made me wonder what other people find beautiful and how they spend their time. I’m eager to step outside of my Los Angeles, Southern California, and American culture bubble. What might faith, love, and hope look like across the world? That question might sound a couple sizes too big, but it’s where your mind goes when you have idealism hardwired into your heart. It always leads me to ask the big questions so that I have room to grow into them. To crave a deeper meaning, for better or worse. It means that the identity, status, accomplishments, and titles we seek in American culture fall short every time. I want freedom from that dream even if the alternative right now looks and feels a bit messy. Perhaps that mess holds the raw materials for building and growing something that lets me work out of inspiration, not obligation.
At this point, you might be wondering where in the world I’m going... sharing more on that soon. I’ll be starting in Oceania and Southeast Asia and then making my way over to Europe and beyond. Will I have energy and money left for South America?! You guys. I don’t even know. I plan to make a complete circle around the globe by the end of it. I’ll be visiting new places and returning to others. And I’ll be traveling solo for much of the time, with plans to meet up with family and friends along the way. In total, I expect to be traveling for 5+ months. Why is that little plus sign there, you ask? Well because frankly this is a magic 8-ball trip and I’m living my best non-committal life right now.
I love all things related to writing, communication, languages, creativity, and social media, so I plan to document and share many of my experiences here. I’m the type of person that’s nostalgic for moments that haven’t yet happened, so it’s important I have tangible words and photos that time capsule these memories for the future. It’s been nine years since I studied abroad at the age of eighteen. I remember the feeling of places, but so many of the richer details are gone. I’m determined to do things differently this time around. I also hope this can serve as a helpful resource for future travelers because oh my word, I can’t even tell you how much time I’ve spent preparing for this. I will likely get a lot wrong as I go along, so there’s learning that can happen and be shared from that too.
To close, I recognize how incredibly fortunate I am to have the resources, privileges, health, and freedom to even make this choice. It comes after a lot of saving, planning, and reflection on my part, absolutely, but every good thing in my life I owe to God. It’s like the longer I live, the sharper my hindsight vision becomes, and the more I’m able to clearly see all His little miracles of time and circumstance lined up in a row. It’s not a coincidence, it’s my reverse compass directing me forward. I’ve talked with many friends who feel similarly on the paths they’re walking, like we can feel His fingerprints all over our lives. There's peace in knowing we are being written by a sovereign storyteller. We may make plans, but ultimately it’s God who creates the journey. And WOW I am humbled to begin this one. Even in the last nine months as I’ve moved forward to this date, His timing in everything has been more perfect than I could have thought to ask for. I am humbled that He’s led me to this grace-drenched opportunity and am hopeful about the good to come.
Here’s to making the choices that let me live the best story.
To the next chapter,