• WorldTravelReport

Seven Things I Learned Traveling to Seven Continents in 2017

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

My wife Katrina & I in front of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

1. Being outside of your comfort zone is comforting

There is growth and associated confidence that comes from the experience of being in a time or place that you are not fully comfortable in or familiar with. For clarity - this does not mean in-the-middle-of-a-war-zone uncomfortable, rather putting yourself in a moment in time that you wouldn't regularly seek out otherwise. Being in a foreign land provides just enough uncertainty that you rely on all of your senses - a type of hypersensitivity. I have found that this awareness is our brains searching for something familiar and sometimes we find it, but it’s a shade different and sometimes replaced entirely. This heightened awareness allows you to open your mind to take in a new language, religion or culture - their way of life. The uneasy feeling of ‘foreign’ generally slips away as you come to embrace the present. The different that is diversity is what makes the world wonderful.

At the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

2. It's all about the people you are with

We have all had the question asked to us by a friend or an acquaintance we haven't seen in some time, “How are you?” and usually without giving much thought the reply is: “Busy.” Life in 2018 can be busy, hectic, chaotic, ad nauseum. When we unplug from the workday and social obligations and find ourselves on our own time something changes. Without the distractions that consume our day-to-day, you find you have the time to connect with the people around you, engage with them, share stories, experiences, and desires. As part of our social fabric we put the effort into finding commonality with just about anyone that happens to be sitting next to you at the local pub, sharing a seat with on a bus ride, or parked next to you on a beach. We open up to sometimes complete strangers, listen to their stories and outlook. At the very least, you can have a pleasurable conversation and just sometimes you can create lifelong friendships built on a truly common bond.

Climbing Jabet Peak on the Antarctic Peninsula

3. Keep a journal

You will remember the safari trip to South Africa… you will remember skiing the Swiss Alps… you will remember the trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms… what you won't remember is the impression and effect it had on you at the time, the daily itineraries and specific locales at each. Writing down your memories, emotions, special and specific experiences will capture these moments to be pulled out in the future that will provide a lifelong trip down memory lane. Reading what was going through your mind at that specific moment is a special way of reliving experiences and combining lessons learned from multiple travels. 

Here is a note from a journal entry I made on the return voyage across the Drake Passage from Antarctica to Ushuaia, Argentina. '...I've found the difference between vacationing and traveling. Vacationing is passive. It happens to you, not because of you. It happens when you have a 9-5 job that you can't stand and need a few days away from it. Traveling is active. It happens because of you. It's a way of life. It's continuous adventure, learning and challenge. It makes you a better person. It refreshes and clears your mind. It's addicting.' I don't remember having that idea run across. Now, it strikes such a chord that it's a guiding point for my life. 

Sunset at Edward VII Park in Lisboa, Portugal

4. It takes less planning than you'd think

Life comes to those who simply go and do it. You don't need an extravagant plan formulated with travel dates, itineraries, years of planning, and all the stress that comes along with it. If you live a disciplined life with your finances & work obligations and strive for open mindedness & personal growth intentionally, opportunities will find you. If you can understand enough about yourself to know what truly brings you happiness, the opportunity quickly becomes the plan when you act on it.

Laguna Esmeralda with friends in Tierra del Fuego, Argentinian/Chilean border

5. You won't regret not making the extra money after you've returned

Let's face it, we worry about the price of the trip and the lost income after we've returned. Try to get creative about making trips a priority. Save diligently, live on a budget, be less of a consumer and prioritize spending money on the things that make you happy. For me, I find immense happiness spending time on a friends patio eating barbecue and having a glass of wine from the local grocery store even more than eating the same meal at a restaurant for double or triple the price. Identify these in your daily life and eliminate the waste. 

Some of you can make money on the road as well. Even better! Personally, I find the achievement gained by work to be very rewarding. Remember, this isn't the type of 'vacationing' to get away from work, it's about personal growth, learning and enjoyment. If work is part of that, let it be so.

Photo time with the penguins at Boulder Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

6. Collect experiences, not things

However cliché it may be, this is very important. You won't remember the consumer gadgets, big-screen televisions, brand new cars, fancy shoes, or any other consumer items you spent your life's worth on (see book by Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life). For us, consumerism had to take the backseat if we were to live a life we love. Our money is better spent on the tent that we use to camp in the Rocky Mountains, the afternoon lost floating the river with friends, and the airline tickets that connect us to the world. Looking back at our life we have not regretted one of the dollars spent in this arena. These are the experiences we cherish and have fueled the recounts of our adventures that we will share for years to come. 

Mountain climbing on New Years Eve 2017 in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

7. Live boldly

Each New Year's week we sit down to define and discuss our goals for the following year. Traveling to all seven continents was not one of them. We had plans to spend three weeks in Bali afforded to us through a leave of absence from work and use our two weeks of vacation to visit a friend we had met seven years prior in his home country of South Africa (See #2). Europe was on our radar because we traveled there often for work. While in Bali, we created a flight itinerary through Australia since it was the easiest and cheapest way home. Only then did we realize how within reach the possibility of visiting all seven continents - a major bucket list item for us - was. Why not go for it?!

-Andrew Mittelstadt

WorldTravelReport- Thoughts That Fly...

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