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How Travel Healed My Quarterlife Crisis


Did you all catch one of the common themes of the Quarterlife Bloggers?  Kendra packed it all up & moved to France, Robyn had quite the adventure in Australia, Marisa experienced a turning point at SXSW and though it hasn’t happened yet,  I know that Andrea has big plans come January.

TRAVEL.  Big time, more-than-a- Hawaiian-vacation, travel.  Soul-clearing, life-changing travel.

A trip around the world was my self prescribed solution to my Quarterlife Crisis as well. It seemed like escape from my world, escape from my job, escape from the traditional path, was the only thing that would help me reconnect to myself.  I spent the first 3 months of my trip decompressing and the last 7 months designing my life.

I was right.  It was exactly what I needed.

The Big Man and I left on May 1, 2007 and returned on March 1, 2008. We backpacked our way through 23 countries.  And because I know you’re curious cats– here’s the itinerary!

May 2007-July 2007

  • Central America–Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua & Costa Rica
  • Ecuador–Quito, Otavalo, Banos & Montanita
  • Peru–Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa & Lima

August 2007-October 2007 : Europe

  • Stockholm, Copanhagen, Amsterdam & Brussels
  • France– Paris, Bordueax
  • Spain–San Sebastian, Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla & Barcelona
  • Monte Carlo
  • Italy– Cinque Terre, Florence, Seina, Rome, Venice & Verona
  • Munich, Prague, Bled & Ljubljana
  • Croatia– Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Sailing the Kornati Islands, Zadar
  • England– London, Guildford & Winchestor

November 2007: South Africa

  • 2 week Overland Trip on the Garden Route from Capetown to Durban
  • Photo Safari at Zulu Nyala Game Reserve

December 2007: India

  • Mumbai
  • Goa- the beaches of Candolim and Mandrem

January 2008: Thailand

  • Monte Viste Retreat on Koh Phangan
  • Christmas & New Years on Koh Tao
  • Meet up with Kate & Senior in Phuket, Krabi, Ko Lanta & Ko Phi Phi
  • Bangkok

February 2008

  • Cambodia — Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, & Sihanoukville
  • Vietnam — Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hanoi & Halong Bay
  • Back to Thailand for Sunshine — Koh Tao & Bangkok

March 2008

  • Returned home to Seattle, Washington, USA

I kept the typical travel blog, but I want to share with you some of the private thoughts I was writing in my journal. I filled two moleskine journals with notes & drawings & business plans while we were gone! Obviously, I was loving exploring & eating & making new friends, but I also spent qutie a lot of time “thinking”.

This is a bit of the writing to show you the process & the progress I was slowly making.

Let me emphasize slowly!  I was trying very hard to be patient with myself, but as a fairly impatient go-getter, it was incredibly hard to simply let the connection to my authentic self just happen.  I did it, though.  I let things unfold.  I mulled.  I practiced trusting my intuition.  I played hot or cold with all ideas no matter how crazy they seemed.

From Banos, Ecuador: “I was skimming a book at this adorable cafe about Prospering Women (thank god for book exchanges!) and it got me thinking about what I want to do when we get back.  The Big Man put up a good offer with the potential recruiting firm, but I don’t want it to feel like “his project”.  He’s adamant that I won’t want to go back to working for someone else & I think he’s right.  I’m not sure how I feel about recruiting– I need to make sure I’m doing something I WANT to be doing.  Just not sure what that is…”

From Koln, Germany: “So we’re walking in the train station & I was remarking how I think Mom would love to come “backpack” Europe.  [The Big Man] said that travel is a constant opportunity to learn something completely new every moment, unlike being home.  It made so much sense to me!  That’s why I love world travel so much & why I thought  Mom would love it as well — lifelong learners!”

From Vernazza, Italy: “I think I’m finally feeling recovered & revitalized from all the craziness of my old life.  And here, on the incredible Cinque Terre, I’ve been doing some thinking.  Ah, yes, more thinking…  What did I want to be when I was little? An interior designer, a camp director, a college professor, an advertising executive, a psychologist…  Does any of that still apply?   What really makes me feel alive?  Connection with other people, the outdoors, the power of a great song or movie, creating opportunities for others to feel special, a sense of possibility, spontaneous playfulness, pride in a job well done…”

From Drakensberg, South Africa: [This is a great one!  It’s my future Bio before Stratejoy was born… It’s pretty incredible to reread my own thoughts as I get closer & closer to the final idea!]  Molly B Hoyne, CEO of Union Wellness & founder of Authentic Retreats Northwest, provides strategies for Joyful Living.  She is a frequent contributor to Oprah magazine & the Real Simple channel, as well as various travel publications around the world.  Hoyne’s passions included hosting Outside the Box Camp for Young Women, throwing celebrated house concerts & the great outdoors.  Her joyful living is based in Seattle with her husband & two extraordinary children.

From Hoi An, Vietnam: “Today I took myself to a cafe, sat back & really appreciated the thinking I’ve been doing over the course of this trip.  I’ve been exposed to so many new ideas & observed so many different ways of life.  I have really & truly connected to my vision of success & am enthused about bringing Company X to fruition.  I am so excited about the changes I’m making in my own life to grow & push & seek joy.  And incredibly excited to share these breakthroughts with other woman who feel that sense of quiet desperation.  There so much I still need to learn, but I feel that my heart & my head are in the right place & ready to move forward.  I am truly living my mission to celebrate each day authentically & inspire others to do the same.”

If you’ve ever taken a course or done any coaching with me  (Hello lovelies!!), I’m sure you recognize bits of Stratejoy in those last few entries. As I’ve mentioned, a lot of the creation of my content came from what I was taking myself through on the trip.  If I could send everyone on a trip around the world, I would.  Knowing that is a huge sacrifice for most people, my aim with Strategjoy is to take the self reflection, clarity & lifestyle design that I discovered on my trip & share it with my Tribe.

That’s what I’m doing now!  Trying to bottle up the best of what I’ve learned into managable sips, like a month long workshop or a homestudy course, to spread the word of joyous living on your own terms.  To start an Authentic Happiness movement.

I know, I know– You’re dying for more travel information.  I’ll wrap it up by answering the two most common questions I get about my trip…

F.A.Q Travel Questions

How did I do it? When people ask me this, they’re always referring to the money. No, I’m not a trust fund baby.  Yes, I quit my hotel sales job.  No, I didn’t make any money for a year.  Yes, I was in debt when I got home.  But…

I was lucky — the Big Man & I spent 9 months planning our escape, so I saved up as much money as I could.  I needed to be able to pay my ridiculous Cornell loans, cover health & car insurance, keep my cell phone number & take care of other bills while we were gone. We sold everything we owned: cars, condo, furniture, bikes, bbq, excess everything.  And the real kicker, the Big Man already ran his own internet based company. He didn’t lose his livelihood. He hired an employee to watch the “shop” and kept closely connected through internet cafes around the world.

I will always be intensely grateful for his generosity and gift of “showing me the world”.

What was my favorite country? Don’t make me choose!   I answer this question with a fairly rote reply these days.  I don’t have a favorite country, but I do have favorite experiences.  And here they are!

Trekking in Peru

Mt Salkantay Peru

We went on an alternative trek to Machu Picchu with a fabulous company called Llamapath.  This trek is the closest one to what we did– I can’t find our exact version on the site anymore.  It was hard.  It was breathtaking.  We made some incredible friends & saw some incredible vistas.  We drank mata tea delivered to our tent at 4:30 am.  We climbed to 14,000+ feet.  We soaked in hot springs.  We saw Machu Pichu at sunrise & it was just as amazing as you imagine.

Sailing in Croatia

Sailing in Croatia

The Big Man’s the sailor, but I absolutely loved our two weeks exploring the Dalmatian Coast & Kornati Islands.  I couldn’t have been happier with this budget friendly flotilla with Activity Yachting! I learned how to sail, fell in love with Croatia, made life long friends with 3 crazy chicks from London & fell alseep on a sail boat in a severe thunderstorm.  Oh, and drank a bunch of wine, swam in the Mediterranean in October & explored some incredible harbors.

Beach Time in Thailand

Thai Beach

By the time we got to Thailand, I was exhausted.  I was sick of dragging my pack, I was tired of having our camaras & laptops & ipods stolen (yes I know- we’re such American techno geeks), & I was done with moving every 3 days.  So we planted ourselves on various Thai islands for longer stretches.  We’d get into a little routine of beach, motorbike, beach, internet cafe, mango break, beach.  It felt like heaven!  This pic was taken on Christmas Day (also the Big Man’s birthday!).

After all this reminiscing, I’m ready to hit the international airport again.


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