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Millennial Around the World Travel: Our How and Why

Editor’s Note:  Sarah Kate, an AirTreks Colleague, and her husband Mason are taking a 4 month  around the world trip. Below, we asked them a bit of the how and why that these twenty-something travelers decided to go for it. Explore their trip here.

Why travel this far and for this long?

Sarah: This is a difficult question for me to answer, because my internal question was never “why”, but “when”. I latched onto travel opportunities when I was young, and no experience was too small. Growing up in the midwest, we took 15+ hour road trips in our gray, seven passenger Dodge Voyager. When I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico in 8th grade and bring food and resources to impoverished populations, I realized how much I had that I didn’t need, and how fortunate I was. In college, I was all too ready to sign up for a study abroad program. 

When my youngest brother passed away suddenly in 2015, I really internalized the idea of living each day like it’s your last. At only 18 years old, he spent his free time driving a van and backpacking to rock climbing and slacklining festivals, and pushing himself to limits by learning to highline. He loved to make people laugh and became friends with everyone he met. He had planned to take a gap year to travel before starting college

People always say, “Life is short.” And while I knew that in my head, I never fully grasped it until that moment. I’ve become even more determined to pursue new opportunities, and not to wait until the ‘right time’, because that time might not come. 

Traveling for an extended period of time won’t be easy, and it took time to save and plan for, but I can’t imagine a better way to embrace the lesson my brother taught me. By traveling for a longer period of time, we won’t have to rush through each city only stopping at the major tourist sites. We’ll learn where the markets are, meet our neighbors, spend an afternoon striking up conversations in cafes, and take the time to go everywhere on foot. By meeting locals and travelers alike, we hope to leave all assumptions behind and truly discover that people are more alike than different. If you never leave your home country and create these relationships, it’s easier to believe what the media tells you.

Mason: I seriously doubt I would have ever planned a trip of this magnitude had I never met Sarah. I’ve always been content with adventures in my own “backyard,” so to speak. Fortunately, living in various landscapes in the American West has offered no shortage of such adventures. But the more I explored, the more I came to look at my own backyard as a sort of hall of mirrors. While backpacking in Montana, Wyoming and western South Dakota, I slowly came to recognize how monolithic this community of adventurers truly is. Most faces I passed on the trail tended to look a lot like mine: young, white, affluent, and English-speaking.

Over time, Sarah’s stories of living and traveling internationally began to seep into my psyche. Her experiences in various European countries with their different macro and microcultures, diverse languages and storied landscapes gestured to challenges of a variety I had never encountered in my life. Her stories made the world seem larger, less charted, more unknown and more full of wonder than my hall of mirrors suggested.

It took some time for me to reconsider this bizarre sense of loyalty I had developed to the landscape of the American West. I had convinced myself at a young age that there was enough to see, do and learn from my own land that I should never be required to explore another. Naturally, places like the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Big Horns of Wyoming, and the vast tracts of wilderness in western Montana will always be in my blood. They are my homes. 

But in sharing these last five years with Sarah, I have begun to understand that love and respect for place is not a zero-sum game: my traveling elsewhere is not an expression of disloyalty. If anything, world travel stands to enrich and secure my appreciation for where I am from. To see the world as large does not make any one place feel small; rather, it makes each place feel all the more extraordinary.

Where we’re going and what we’re excited for in each place:

Rio de Janeiro
Sao Paulo
Iguazu Falls
Buenos Aires
El Calafate
Bali – Canggu and Ubud
Chiang Mai

Sarah: Spending the last 3 years talking to AirTreks travelers and colleagues was the perfect way to build up a list of dream locations that I would one day travel to, and our destinations changed many times since we first started dreaming about living and working remotely.

Of course, there were a few themes they all had in common:

1 – To seek out experiences in cultures that would cause me to grow and change emotionally, spiritually, and physically (here’s a spiritual meditation AirTrek if you’re interested).

2 – To learn from people who saw the world differently than I did (using Google Translator if necessary).

3 – To experience natural beauty in challenging, maybe even untouched, landscapes and oceans.

At the same time, Mason and I plan to work remotely while we’re traveling and need an internet connection conducive for smooth video calls – so we had to cross the more remote places off our list and save them for another trek. 

With all this in mind, we decided to name our trip Mountains, Beaches, and Wi-fi. After reading blogs about cities for digital nomads and researching outdoor adventures, we picked 5 places that would be our “home bases,” so to speak: São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Peru, Bali, and Chiang Mai. When I gave this list to our AirTreks Airfare Guru – David Derrick, he was able to find ways to add extra stopovers to our journey at no extra cost! Thanks to him, we will be able to spend a few days in remarkable places such as Salvador and Rio (hello, Carnaval!) Iguazu Falls, and enjoy Tokyo before heading home.

Mason: I supplied Sarah with a few conditions concerning the destinations for this trip. I wanted to see mountains and meet the people who dwelled in them. Of course as a seasonal backpacking guide by trade, how could I pass up the opportunity to explore the glacial alpine wonderland of Patagonia? And the chance to trek into the Peruvian Andes to see Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain as well? Sign me up. I’d simply be open to and excited about anything else we happened to do along the way. 

That being said, as Sarah and I are both enthusiastic foodies, I’m seriously looking forward to the cuisine in every destination – especially Tokyo – and to having access to superb coffee in Brazil, Peru, Bali and Thailand.

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