((270 days. 9 months. 15 countries. Drove down the Pan-America highway from our doorstep in Ohio to the southern most tip of Patagonia. ))
((in sound bites))
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE COUNTRY?
- My favorite country for food: Mexico. Like, wow.
- My favorite country for the people: Colombia. That country is painted with brighter colors I swear.
- My favorite country for its beauty: Patagonia. Technically, it’s not a country because you have to jump back and forth between Chile and Argentina to see it all, but this part of the world is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before: white capped mountains, bright blue lakes, wild animals running free, more trails than roads… basically where all nature freaks die and go to heaven.
WHAT SURPRISED YOU?
- I read more books than I thought I would; journaled less than I thought I would.
- I weigh exactly the same when I left for the trip to now. Before I left, I was exercising regularly and during the trip, we were penny-pinching so I ate & drank less 😉
- That in Latin America, the things that SHOULD be cheap, were cheap: like fresh fruit, quinoa, and coconut oil. And the things that were expensive, should be expensive: like gasoline, packaged foods, and clothes.
- Something you can’t tell from just a photo is how we got there. There were certain views that were very touristy, surrounded by people with their phones. But there were other views that took a full day of hiking to arrive. When I look back at the photos, the image of beautiful scenery that took blood/sweat/tears to arrive are the moments I appreciate most.
HOW DID YOU FEEL PHYSICALLY?
- I never got sick. Not even once. A little dirt in your life keeps a good digestive system alive.
- I went around 4-5 days without showering. But we took advantage of every body of water around us. If there was a lake nearby, grab the soap.
- I discovered that pooping in the wilderness is a lot more peaceful and cleaner than many city toilets.
- The cold was the hardest physical feeling. When camping in Patagonia, I wore 2 base layers, 2 socks, 2 pants, 3 sweaters, my buff, gloves, hat, and winter coat then climbed into my sleeping back with all of those layers still on. A bit dramatic, I know, but I slept snug as a bug.
- The other hard part was showering in so many different types of showers. You bring your plastic trash bag of clothes and shower toiletries in the shower with you. Sometimes there was no place to put your clothes, so you are balancing your dry clothes in one hand and rinsing the shampoo out of your hair with another hand. Muti-tasking skills at its finest.
HOW DID YOU FEEL EMOTIONALLY?
- I often felt happy, curious, alive, adventurous, and healthy. I lacked a sense of purpose and missed the rewarding feeling of working hard and contributing to a community or society.
- I loved feeling light and clutter free. In the next stage of life, I hope to stay light, minimalist and clean.
- I did less work on myself, less ‘self-discovery’ and accomplished more external work, relationship and ’team-work’ with Jose. (9 months in a car together? you bet we did ‘relationship work’)
- Since I didn’t have my girl friends and happy hours, I became more introverted and found that fulfillment in nature, music, and learning new things.
- I felt absolutely amazed at this world’s beauty and very sad about the amount of trash we’ve dumped on it.
- Dealing with Latin American’s chauvinist culture was hard. There were many days in the mechanic where I would look a man straight in the face and he would always look at Jose when responding to my questions. I also got grabbed a couple times. Nothing too crazy, but still such an awful feeling.
DID YOU PACK THE RIGHT THINGS?
- I brought 4 packing cubes of clothes, and it was too much. Turns out the wilderness doesn’t mind when you wear the same thing every day.
- I only straightened my hair a handful of times, embraced the curls and braid.
- If you aren’t picky about brands, you can find nearly anything in latin america. I used very minimal toiletries: a bar of soap, left conditioner in my hair, and bug spray as perfume.
HOW DID YOU DO FINANCIALLY?
- Even with the purchase of that expensive new engine on our first week, we actually spent less than budgeted. We made choices all day, every day to stick to our budget. It was difficult at times, but it mostly felt freeing to stick to the basics, find local hole in the wall restaurants, and camp a lot.
- We tracked every penny… and I mean every penny. Jose is working on a full spreadsheet with all the details of our expenses, and it’s so interesting. We spent a lot less on food than expected and a lot more on car expenses. Details to come!
HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED?
- I’ve learned to live with less… less money, less stuff, less clutter, less words, less worries. And I’ve discovered more… more time in nature, more peace, more books, more insight, more hiking, more bonfires, and more days without showering;)
- I don’t think I could ever open my cabinet and think, “We don’t have any food”. I could find probably 20 meals in an ‘empty’ cabinet.
- We were surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, but saw so much trash. I hope I will continue to care for the earth and teach the next generation to care as well.
- This journey took over 2 yrs of planning, saving, dreaming, selling our belongings, and uprooting our lives. Then, 9 months of driving to reach the southern most tip, our ultimate goal. I was born in the ‘give it to me now‘ generation, and this journey taught me that is well worth it to put in the work and the time to make big things happen.
- But we are YET to find out how it has changed us…
ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
- I would go on this adventure again in a HEARTbeat. I absolutely loved it. I really enjoyed this type of travel as well. When you fly, sometimes you can get stuck in the hostel and sign up for over priced tours, but overloading is a cheaper, more adventurous way to see things on your own and on a flexible schedule.
- I would’ve extended the trip to at least a full year. In 9 months, we had to stick to a “keep moving” schedule in order to get to Patagonia before winter hit, If we had left a few months earlier, that would have given us a bit more of a relaxed schedule.
HOW DO YOU HOPE IT CHANGES YOU MOVING FORWARD IN OTHER LIFE STAGES?
- I hope I can maintain a minimalist lifestyle. I can’t stress enough how free, light, and good it feels to live with less stuff. It’s still hard though. I came home to a huge closet, and I want to keep it all! But I know it feels better when I simplify life. I don’t even wear that shirt anymore.
- I want to be more aware of people who are ‘displaced’ from their normal habitat. It feels so awkward in a foreign country, even when you speak the language. I want to keep my eyes peeled and do small gestures to make others feel comfortable in a new place.
- I hope to cook more, reduce waste, and do my part to take care of this beautiful earth.
- I want to find friends/community who want to live like this. And find friends to camp with! (Hit me UP)
- I hope to slow life down. Chew slower. Spend more time outside. Less screen time. Work hard. Be passionate. Be grateful. Just kinda live like an old lady 😉
- I’m ready to lean in with the next chapter of my life: professional growth, grad school, hopefully have babies, and be the best I can be in the next stage. But tonight, I’m reflecting, letting it sink in, appreciating it, capturing it. It was a fantastic ride.