After graduating from college and starting a career in corporate finance, I started wondering, “Is this what life is really all about?” I was spending 60 hours per week in the office only to have weekends to do what I want (which usually ended up with me on the couch watching football). Then on Monday I would start over and do it all again until I get to use some of my 10 annual vacation days? I started questioning my lifestyle and eventually realized there are only a few ways out of this cycle.
In the summer after my junior year of college, I had an internship in London. This was when I truly began seeing the world. I loved all of the little (and big) differences between countries. I realized that spending money on this provided a much bigger return on investment to my life than any of the “stuff” I had been buying.
After college, I started with $20,000 in debt ($15k student debt and $5k left on my car loan), so I created a budget and put every single extra dollar towards my loans. I started selling stuff. My Xbox, TIvo, TV, desktop computer…the list went on. To live a better life, I realized I needed to get rid of my time wasters. And lucky for me, they were still worth some money I was able to put towards debt.
I was then relocated to Prague for a six month assignment. This is when I really became involved with Couchsurfing. I began hosting as well as surfing in several different countries in Western and Eastern Europe. Couchsurfing started to truly shape my life through the people I met and the experiences I had.
After two years of saving up, I worked up the courage and asked my company for a year unpaid leave of absence to volunteer in Peru, travel in South America, and cycle across the US. These experiences made up the best year of my life (so far) and are the reason why I think everyone should take a year off to travel, to learn, try new things, and live 100% in the present moment. It’s the best opportunity to learn about the world and learn about yourself in many ways.
I am continually finding new ways to improve my life and, of course, save up for the next big thing. My views are continually being shaped by my experiences and the people I meet. Travel has become my biggest passion and where I get my sense of purpose, so I am continually trying to find new ways to implement traveling into my life. There is no doubt that my passions will shift as life moves forward. Because of that, we need to constantly be re-evaluating our priorities to ensure we’re living in the moment while also planning for the future!