December 18 – How it all began…
December 18th, 2011 – I turned 30. It’s funny how the slight change of a number can drastically alter a life and shift its course forever. Before that day I was doing what many typical 29 year olds of my generation were doing. I was working a decent job (that I somewhat enjoyed), paying down debt and saving up to buy a house. I was even thinking about getting a dog. Then, everything changed.
At first, I didn’t even realize it, but my thoughts had wandered slowly yet increasingly away from the “Canadian” dream. I was enjoying my job less, I started to buy things that I thought would make me happy or successful or important. They didn’t. I had even picked up a new hobby, besides drinking and smoking. My friends were all getting married, having kids and buying homes. They seemed happy. We did, for the most part, the same things every weekend. I did, for the most part, the same things every week. Life had gotten boring and predictable. I was having a crisis.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had, what I consider to be, an interesting and diverse 30 years. I “grew up” in a small town north of Toronto, the eldest of three boys. My father was a minister and my mother was a teacher. The life of the clergy has to be, from what I can tell, very similar to a life in the military – they move a lot. By the time I was 14 I had lived in 6 different places. This can make it difficult to make and keep friends. However, it contributed greatly to who I am today. Our final destination, as a family unit, was Ottawa. I made friends, finished high school and enrolled in college. Getting somewhat tired of being a broke student, I decided to enter the workforce full-time. Since then I have been a server, bartender, carpenter, salesman and business owner. I had fun and learned a lot, but something was always missing. I wanted to travel.
My father, apart from being a preacher, had been involved in international work with a number of NGO’s and had done a great deal of traveling. My parents, believing it was important for children to experience the world and other cultures had us tag along on some of these trips. So, my brothers and I, from an early age, got to do some exploring. By 17, I had been to England, India and throughout much of the US and Canada. In my twenties, I occasionally had the opportunity to visit other cities, either with work or friends. Despite my best efforts, by my 30th birthday I had still only been to 5 countries. Granted, that’s 4 more than many people in the world will ever see. Be that as it may, I needed more.
In the spring of 2012, my dad informed me that he would be in New York for a week on business. Given that his hotel was covered, there was inevitably a couch and NYC is still one of my favorite cities in the world, I bought a ticket. One morning, over a Nova Lox and Cream Cheese Bagel from Daniel’s on 3rd, I asked him if he thought it was insanity to quit my job and do some traveling. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to pull out any of my previously prepared arguments. After a moment and a sip of his coffee he said, very calmly, “I don’t think it’s crazy at all”. He then followed up with many of the points I was going to use to justify the idea to him and even suggested that I join him for a few weeks in Southeast Asia to kick it all off. So, I did. My parents continue to be a source of great influence, inspiration and support.
Since that morning, just shy of 6 months ago, I have traveled to 13 new countries and 7 new US states; begun the process of relocating to Vancouver, where I plan on being in between my adventures; just been granted a Working Holiday Visa for Australia and am in the process of researching flights, jobs, insurance and apartments; haven’t had one regret.
I now plan on traveling extensively, working and living in as many different places as possible and seeing the world. We don’t know what the future will bring, for us, or the world. It could be a very different place and travel may not be as accessible for many of us. At the moment, I have my health, some of my youth and a burning desire to explore. I have given myself five years to experience all that I can before I consider the house, the dog, a family…I hope to use this site to share with friends, family and whoever may be interested some of my adventures, my photography and occasionally my own random thoughts.
They say it is never too late to reinvent yourself, make positive changes in your life and do what makes you happy. I choose to believe them. I now have friends from every walk of life, not just across Canada, but from around the world. My life is now ever-changing, exciting and unpredictable. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and that alone invigorates me. I am no longer in crisis. I’ve realized that money is important, but living an interesting and fulfilling life is more important I’m also pretty sure the hair on my head is thicker than it was last winter.
Safe and Happy Travels – Andrew
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain (maybe – either way, I like it)