Traveling around the world is one of the most liberating things you can do. After deciding to take the big leap, I remember feeling like my heart was open and truly free. I was freshly single, in need of a career change, and just generally looking to reignite a spark inside my stagnant feeling soul. There was so much hope and wonder in stepping out.
After securing a remote job, I booked a ticket to Belgrade, Serbia and what I like to call “Beyond.” Initially I didn’t know where my next destination would be after Belgrade. Shortly after arriving to Serbia, I started working with AirTreks to build a multi-stop trek that would take me to 16 different countries across Europe, Africa, and South America.
What I didn’t realize before starting out, was the actual transformational experiences I would have.
Meeting people in Serbia, Portugal, Morocco, and Peru that would become friends, and not just friends in passing – life-long friends. Venturing into the ancient Medinas in Rabat and meeting factory owners who showed me their way of bringing beautiful garments to life. Sharing a meal with refugees in the Czech Republic and Germany, and not just sharing a meal but sharing stories of life experiences that were heart-breakingly hard to talk about.
There were moments of getting lost in a city (not in the whimsical sense, in the actual sense) and struggling to communicate in an unfamiliar language to find my way. It was moments of deep conversations, vulnerability, struggle, and challenge that impacted me the most. It was the moments that I didn’t initially anticipate, that shaped my journey and opened my heart and mind to see the world through a different lens in a whole new way.
When I decided to return to the United States, I felt like an alien.
I remember walking into a coffee shop and tentatively asking for a “Café con leche… Err, I mean, a coffee with milk.” I felt like “home” was a place I didn’t belong anymore. I felt like settling down was for someone else. My instinct to keep going was tampered by comments from close friends and family that I needed to stop running away. A sentiment that smacked me across the face. How could they think I was running away? I was running towards an eye-opening, wonderful way of life. I wasn’t running.
But I stopped myself. There is some importance inside the running away question. And I think it’s important to keep yourself in check.
Are you running away from something in your life or towards something? Are you traveling for fun experiences or for deeper reasons? Maybe it’s all of the above at different life points. I believe in the power of setting your intention in all areas of life. I think it’s especially important to set your intention with travel. Doing so is what shapes meaningful, impactful experiences.
I know that I’ll always need to keep myself in check with this question. I would advise anyone to do the same.
Returning home for me was not just hard, it was tormenting. My nomad lifestyle had become my new normal. I was simultaneously confronted with a gravitational pull to get back on the road AND a yearning to lay down roots and find a place to formally call home. Gloria Steinem’s book My Life On The Road has helped me wrap my head around the idea of having a home and also having the world.
I could easily cap off this short story with a happily-ever-after, neat and tidy ending, but I’m going to refrain from doing that. Instead, I’ll tell you that I went out into the world and I had an incredible, amazing, most-fun-in-my-life, hard as hell, shape-shifting time out there.
I am a work in progress, just as I was before taking flight. There is so much I learned and there is so much that I still don’t know. One thing I do know is that there is healing in travel. There is soul sparking inspiration. There is challenge and there is struggle. And if you’re open to it, there is deep, meaningful transformation.
I also know that I want it all — a career, a home, and the world. And I believe it’s possible to create a life where all of those things simultaneously exist. Working for AirTreks, a fully remote company with a team of open-minded travel lovers and kindred spirits, is a BIG step towards having it all.
As a storyteller for AirTreks, I want to go deep with other travelers. I want to engage with people along all different parts of the journey. I want to know what it’s like to be a work in progress for others who have a curiosity to experience the world. And so, I’m kicking off a series called Around The World And Back. I believe the potential and possibilities to learn, grow, and explore with each other are endless.
This is an open invitation to all of you curious humans out there — to share your journey with us. Let’s go deep. Let’s be honest. Let’s build some bridges. And let’s use our voices and experiences to create big things together.
Email me to submit a blog set up an interview: heather AT airtreks dot com