On May 24, 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. A week 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, and 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. 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.
Our trip to Morocco marked the beginning of a whole new chapter in our journey. We were starting to explore countries and cultures truly foreign to us and we felt all of our senses heighten. What is this new smell? What is this new taste? What is this new sound? Everything in Europe had been quite familiar and easy, but after Morocco, we were in a constant spin cycle of change, confusion, excitement, admiration, discomfort, awe, and wonder.
No country put us through the roller coaster of these emotions more than India. People always ask us if we have a favorite destination, and we always say it’s an impossible question to answer because each location and culture is so wildly different and special in its own way... But then we seem to always follow it up by saying, well, India. After being home for nearly five months now, I can confidently say that it was the one place that really got under our skin. Both Andy and I were so curious about this country we knew so little about, that we gave ourselves an entire month to explore it before heading to Nepal for 10 days. It was the longest we stayed in any one country on our journey.
India is a land that has lived a thousand lives, has spectacular art and history, some of the most unique and flavorful cuisine in the world, a beautiful devotion to religion, and a strong sense of community. It proved to be as colorful, vibrant, and alive as I imagined, but I wasn’t prepared for just how chaotic and seemingly lawless parts of it could be. It is a country of contradictions and contrasts.
What also made India stand out was the mutual fascination and shared curiosity that we hadn’t really experienced yet on the trip. While I was fascinated by their customs, religion and dress, people in India wanted to know what we did for a living, how we met and dated, and how young we were when we got married. It was humbling to tell them we were traveling across the world, when many people we met couldn’t afford to even leave their state. The modest hotel rooms we could afford felt like mansions compared to the corrugated-steel sided shanties we passed on the road. Carrying our fancy electronics and gear seemed utterly materialistic when so many people just wanted clean water. And yet, every person we met was incredibly hospitable, humorous, and generous. They were proud of their beautiful country, its illustrious past, and its current wave of economic and technological growth. This openness, discovery, and dialogue is what travel is all about, and is what made this trip stand out above the rest for us.
India put a lens up to my lifestyle and the extreme advantages so many of us take for granted. It changed me, my perception of the world, and my place in it. There’s no more powerful experience to have than that.