One neat feature of human memory is that we tend to remember unique experiences more clearly than repetitive daily routines. It's just short of two years since Kelsi and I set off on our adventure, but I can still remember each hostel and home we stayed in, in order. (I used to be able to recall each meal we ate as well, but I have to go back to my notes or pictures to remember them all now.)
Only One Way to Go
When I think back on our trip, the memory and feelings of the day before we took off frequently bubble to the top. The day before we flew to Tokyo, my sister helped us pack up my room in Somerville before we drove downtown to meet friends for a final meal together in the city. As we walked from the car to the restaurant, I suddenly became aware of the reality of my situation. Kelsi and I had one way tickets to Tokyo. Imagining Japan was thinking more about some alternate reality I once saw in an animated film more than it was visualizing an actual place. Trying to imagine what it would be like there felt like trying to describe what a big dramatic piece of music sounds like to someone who has never heard it - I could explain the broad strokes of the music and the key elements, but words fail me in capturing the elegance and enormity of the piece.
I was kind of scared.
This is also the moment where I understood with the clarity that only comes in hindsight that we had both left our jobs and moved out of our homes. The only way was forward. Though I was excited, I was also trapped.
The nerves persisted on the plane. Though Kelsi was able to sleep as Japan came into view through the window of our aircraft, the jitters hit me hard enough that I briefly mounted a search for the airsickness bag in the seat pocket in front of me. (The search proved unsuccessful, but also unnecessary.)
As you likely gleaned from the pages of this blog, all these nerve proved to be unfounded. The trip was easily the most exciting, engaging, and adventurous thing I have ever done. I expected that it would be that when I set out. I knew I wanted to go on this adventure.
Still, at the outset, it helped me get started that going forward was the only way to go.
A Short Summary
Our original plan was to spend about 12 months on the road, or as long as our money lasted. Six months were budgeted for Asia, six for Latin America.
Setting out in August 2014, we spent exactly six months in Asia, down to the day. We visited 10 countries - Japan, China, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
On our way to South America we got sidetracked and spent two wonderful months with my family in Indiana. After that, Kelsi and I split for a bit and she spent five weeks in Timor Leste while I spent six in Guatemala.
Kelsi and I reunited in the spring of 2015 at Kelsi's parent's home in San Diego before driving cross country back to Boston, arriving in July 2015.
As we traveled, we kept a quite detailed record of our spending. We had a very difficult time coming up with exactly how much money it would take to live on the road for a year. It is our hope that our detailed record might be useful to people who are looking to travel after us. Click here to see a copy of our spending record on the trip.
Our entire blog will remain online for the foreseeable future. On our front page, andrewandkelsi.com, we have a list of our favorite blog posts for your reading pleasure.
Squeeze everything out that you can
Look at your calendar - it's June. Where did half the year go? I feel this way and I expect that many of you do as well... I think I only got comfortable putting 2016 on the "today's date" line of various forms just a month or two ago... Now I'm halfway to the next new number.
The day-in, day-out of the work week sandwiched between a Saturday of household chores, maybe a dinner party, and a Sunday of floomping around watching movies or sports can become quite comfortable. Kelsi and I deeply enjoyed the last 11 months in our Somerville apartment, building our first home and soaking up as much time with friends as possibly could.
Despite our enjoyment of this past year, somehow such routine seems to grease the gears of time. This year in Somerville and Boston have been marvelous, but time has been slick and oily. As they pool, the individual days merge into general memories about life as it slipped by. Routine lets life fly by dangerously quickly.
When we were on the road, time was sticky - every day brought new sights and new things to do. With concentration and some prompting, I can still remember every single day of that six month period.
Because of this phenomenon, I feel like I got more out of my life, second to second, during that time on the road than I could have anywhere else. That time could have been spent at home or on our adventure, but I got more life by experiencing something new.
We each are dealt our own deck in life and some decks are a little larger than others, but I feel that our time adventuring was the closest I've come to maximizing my time. I am so grateful that Kelsi and I were in a position and station in life that we were able to make this trip happen.
And so if there is any lesson, any final conclusion that I am to take away from this adventure, it is to keep the focus on squeezing every ounce out of each second Kelsi and I have. We went on this trip while were young because you never know what might happen - perhaps this is the only chance we'll end up having. Delayed gratification is only worth it to a point - I want to try to grab as much value out of every second that I can. I am about to start medical school and determined to enjoy and live a happy life with my wife in the wonderful new city we will be in while setting off on this new adventure.
I didn't need to travel to Asia to know this. Having gone on this adventure, however, I now understand this with the certainty that only hindsight provides. The adventure has cemented Kelsi and my desire to be "doing things people". When we come to a fork in our path, we want adventure to be our default.
You probably didn't need me to tell you this to understand it, either. But I do hope you set yourself up for adventures. Big or small, I hope you can be laser focused on being happy and doing the things that have meaning for you, at home or on the road. Sometimes it helps to put yourself in a position where the only option is adventure.
When I first met Kelsi, she told me she had a dream for long term travel. It was all her idea, not mine. I am extremely grateful she shared it with me. For six months, we were never separated for more than a minute or two. It was an amazing adventure and spending it with her has been the highlight of my life. Very few days go by that I don't wish we were still adventuring on the road together.
Thank you for reading. This adventure has meant everything to us. Your comments have been a great connection on the road. We will get back to the road again someday, and I'm sure we'll dust off this blog or another when that time comes.
We hope to run into you out on an adventure.
Andrew & Kelsi