Seven months of facing fears, firsts, and furthers – finding our frontiers across the globe
In January, my boyfriend Matt and I stuffed our 70-liter backpacks to the brim, carrying full messenger bags, yoga mats, and fishing gear, and boarded a one-way flight to South America. We only had the next two weeks roughly planned, and a loose itinerary to chase summer around the globe for the duration of 2017.
We find ourselves seven months later in our second summer of the year in Ireland, after visiting 14 countries. And we haven’t killed each other yet!
Along the way, we’ve faced fears, experienced numerous firsts, and pushed ourselves further than we thought possible.
Honestly, before setting off on our adventure, one of my biggest fears was quitting my job. I realized this was part of a much greater fear of letting people down. I had a new boss and team that I respected and enjoyed working with.
But I knew by not fulfilling my dreams and taking the opportunity to travel long-term, I would be letting myself down – especially after three years of saving and months of planning. Letting myself down was a risk I couldn’t afford to take.
You can always find another job, you can always make more money, but you can never make more time. It’s our most precious resource and I knew how I wanted to spend my time this year.
After I got advice from a former boss, talked to HR, and practiced what I wanted to say to my boss what felt like a million times, I came out unscathed. Everyone at my work was supportive and excited for my journey – I wish I hadn’t lost as much sleep over it.
Fears faced have been as small as coexisting with big bugs or sleeping in a tiny tent. Sure, I might have wanted to sleep with my head outside of the too-small-for-two-people-tent after a minor anxiety attack (embarrassing). But the cold night temperatures, fierce wind, and rain in Patagonia simply wouldn’t allow it. The fear was literally faced head on.
There have been greater fears, like running with bulls in Pamplona (and being one of the few females to do so!) or putting myself out there with a personal blog. Through sharing my journey through grief in my blog (my mom died from ovarian cancer last year), I have found another way to heal. Facing my fears has been a recipe for growth.
We started our trip off with a bang! After a short stop in Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile (our first time in both Chile and South America), we flew down to Patagonia to trek the iconic Torres del Paine W-trek.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Matt and I had been on our share of hikes, but we both had never been on a full-blown, sleep in the wilderness, hike to your next campsites, trek. Torres del Paine would be our first – go big or go home, right?
Prior to our trip, we had never used or owned hiking boots or trekking poles (other than our attempt to break them in a month before our trip). We did our research, talked to friends who had done the trek, bought new gear, and more than anything hoped for the best.
What we got was better. Yes, the 5-day, 62km trek kicked our butts, but it was worth every step and stumble (so thankful for those new hiking boots!) along the way. I came out stronger, physically and mentally, only lacking a pair of sunglasses that blew off my face and over a cliffside on a windy corner of the trail.
Matt and I have continued the trip with countless firsts: our first-time paragliding, Couchsurfing, white water rafting, sand boarding, teaching yoga abroad, trekking the Inca Trail, riding camels in the Sahara Desert…the list continues while also continuing to grow. Without firsts, we would never have found new favorites – it won’t be our last time white water rafting!
This is by far the longest & furthest we’ve traveled in our lives: 65+ cities, 14 countries, 4 continents, thousands of miles and counting.
From hiking over Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to the top of Rainbow Mountain at 17,000ft, we’ve pushed ourselves harder, longer, higher and further.
Biolite continues to power our journey each step of the way. Our SolarPanel and PowerLite Minis have kept our gear charged to document each new frontier. While we cherish our time off the grid and out of service to recharge ourselves, our friends and families appreciate that we return from epic adventures with charged phones to let them know we’re okay.
The best part about finding your frontiers (there are many in full-time travel) is the freedom it allows. You can wake up in the morning and decide, “what do you want to do today?” then go do it! If you love somewhere, stay longer. If you don’t, pack your bags again and move on to the next destination.
Whether it’s for a yearlong adventure or a weekend getaway, allow yourself the freedom to grow and find new favorites wherever your frontier may be.