What’s Next: Balancing Travel and Home

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

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“What’s next?” Besides how do you pay for it, and what do your parents think, after I explain my multi year journey to people “what’s next” is often the next question in line. And I get it, at only twenty years old I’m already doing the sort of expedition most people would never even dream of, so what will I be able to accomplish by thirty, or fifty? Well, as much as a life of perpetual expeditions and travels sounds amazing, there are other things in life I want, and Kevin and I have recently decided that after South America we will put a little pause in our traveling lifestyle in order to establish some roots as well.

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A Disaster of Dinner and Dishes

“I’m old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway.”

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It’s 22h36 and I just got off my sixteen hour shift at the hostel we have been working at this past week for free room and food. I started at 7h00 sharp by serving breakfast to over forty tourists before cleaning (dishes, sweeping, etc…) and preparing dinner with the wonderful but way overworked cook. Then, at seven, we served food to the tourists once again before, doing more dishes than I ever thought possible. Though we have worked at quite a few hostels here in Georgia already, this one was very different because it had a kitchen, and therefore, way more work that needed to be done.

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When the Sun Don’t Shine

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”

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What happens when it rains? Well, you put on your rain gear and just keep pedaling. And in all honesty, it’s not that bad cycling in the rain – sometimes it’s even a lot of fun! But the camping? Well… That’s a whole different story.

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Many Paths to Happiness

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Yesterday when I asked for input about how I could improve my blog, the comment which made me think the most was from a German girl I met a few years ago in South America. She told me (very kindly) that sometimes my posts could be frustrating because it seemed to her that the only way to happiness in my eyes was my way – cycling around the world – and that sometimes it irritated her because she was happy with her life even though she isn’t currently traveling. And I couldn’t agree more. Happiness, success, and dreams are all extremely personal journeys and I certainly don’t think that everyone should begin living their life as I do (though, if you are at all tempted, feel free!).

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Time For You to Talk

That’s right, this time it’s your turn to talk. Though I tried to do a survey a few weeks back, I somehow didn’t add the little buttons people have to press to answer the questions so I took it down after I realized it hadn’t worked. So I’m trying again, without the survey part. What would you guys like to see? This blog is for you, so help me out!

Why do you read my blog? Do you like the cultural stories I share, the photos of mountains, the cycling and gear posts, or the posts about how travel changes you and how to travel as two? Do you like posts which motivate you to travel, which teach you how to live with less money, or which share different cultures through homestays and cultural exchanges? What would you like to hear more about, and what would you like less of? This blog is for you! I know everything that has happened and don’t need to read about my own ideas, so if there is something you want to see/learn more about through my eyes, this is your time to speak out!

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me so far along my journey. This blog, which started out with a whole five followers (four of whom were family) now has over 1,200 “email followers!”

The Gift of Independence

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

I am where I am today because my parents let me lead the way to the milk store fifteen minutes away from our house, so that by the time I was ten, I could go there on my own. I am comfortable in my ability to travel because my parents always made my brother and I walk in front of them through every terminal so that by twelve, they had enough confidence in me to let me fly alone, unaccompanied, to visit friends in a neighboring state. I felt no qualms about leaving to backpack through South America alone at eighteen because my parents had prepared me by showing me through their examples – from how to do my homework to how to run the dishwasher – before expecting me to compete these tasks by myself. If I ever needed help, of course I could ask for it, and if I ever felt scared, of course it wasn’t forced, but by expecting me to do certain tasks by myself when they felt they had given me the necessary tools, I was able become the self-reliant and independent person I am today.

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The Georgian Mountains: In Photos

“On the loose to climb a mountain, on the loose where I am free. On the loose to live my life, the way I think my life should be.”

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Since I have already spoken about the wonderful region of Sveneti, here are some beautiful pictures from just two days of riding through the area.

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Sveneti: In the Land of Mountains and Towers

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

After the rocky pass we ended up straight away in the first village in Sveneti, the most popular mountainous region in Georgia. The 2,100m high town claims to be the highest inhabited village in Europe (which seems funny after visiting towns over 4,300m in the Himalayas), but what makes it truly spectacular is the beautiful glacier covered mountain right next door, and the 1,000 year old stone towers which are still standing tall.

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Passes, Mountains, and a Few Companions

“I love the feeling of being anonymous in a city I have never been before.”

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What constitutes the perfect pass? A paved gradual incline without much traffic, and two friendly Georgians waiting at the top to give you a handful of grapes. Needles to say, by the time we completed a short downhill to the lake below, we were in very high spirits.

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Humidity and Heat, Hills and Headwinds

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

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After we set out from Tblisi we hit a very different sort of desert/arid landscape which proved to be quite pleasant because we opted for the small country roads instead of the scary highway nearby.

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