On May 24, 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. Seven days later, we hopped on a plane with two carry-on suitcases and two one-way tickets to Paris. We had just pressed pause on our careers, sublet our apartment, moved all of our things into storage. The only plan was to have no plans at all — and we ended up traveling for 394 days through 25 countries, stopping in nearly 100 destinations.
People always ask how we pulled it off, and the simple answer is that we just committed to the idea and we jumped. It was certainly scary, but more than that it was just so unknown. The idea of traveling and leaving my comfort zone for that long was so abstract that trying to wrap my head around it seemed impossible. But I find that like most of the scary things in life — starting or ending a relationship, changing jobs, or moving to a new city — the more daunting the first step, the more the rewarding the outcome. I’m very much on board with the idea that if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.
Andy and I definitely share this mentality. It’s one of the things that brought us together. We’re always scheming up ways to beat the system. How do we win at the game of life? That can mean a lot of different things to different people, but we’ve come to learn that, to us, it means owning and appreciating our time. We’re fortunate enough to have careers that we’re truly passionate about but that also makes it easy to get caught up in the hustle — especially in a place like New York. We have to remind ourselves that the reason we work so hard in the first place is to have the resources to live a richer, fuller life. In order to do so, you need to actually stop every once in a while and enjoy it.
The idea for the trip had been planted in our minds for years, and it was something that we talked and dreamed about often, but it wasn’t until we got engaged that things started to get real. Making it an extended honeymoon sounded like a perfect idea, and suddenly we had a departure date in mind, an actionable to-do list — and it didn’t all feel like a far-fetched dream. I was already working as a freelancer, with the idea that this trip might be on the horizon. We found a couple to sublet our apartment half-furnished and looked for a storage unit for the rest of our stuff. We were also in the midst of planning a wedding. That kept us so occupied that we were constantly in planning auto-pilot, checking boxes all the way until we set foot on that plane. Suddenly, we had no plans for what was next. We looked at each other as we took off and realized we were homeless, jobless, and plan-free for an entire year. It was perfect.
These are just a few of the reasons why we set out on this trip. Over the next few weeks, come along on this crazy journey to learn more about how we did it — packing, plotting, budgeting — and see some of the tens of thousands of photos we took along the way.
First stop, Paris, because the saying is true: It’s always a good idea.
Want to follow along on this great adventure? Check R29 every Saturday for the latest installment of the series!