Someday when I write the story of my life, I think I’ll call this chapter “The Wanderlust Years“. Compared to the first 28 years , these past few have included more miles traveled than the rest combined. And I can prove it! It may not surprise many of you that, like any good nerd, I keep a spreadsheet of my travels. Never miss an opportunity for data analysis, I always say… In all seriousness though, the spreadsheet was particularly useful for keeping track of how many days I spent in the Schengen Area, and also for recounting my whereabouts to federal investigators for my security clearance (true story).
The official start date of the wanderlust chapter would probably be the day Elise and I moved out of our apartment in Boston. We spent nearly two years in that home together, and it was incredible. We made the best friends, had some of the best meals, and threw some awesome costume parties! But alas, once Elise had finished her masters degrees, there was work to be done.
Elise moved to France that June (this was 2015) to start a new job/internship. I remained behind, but my schedule was anything but ordinary. Technically, I was living in New England, but I mostly jumped at opportunities to deploy elsewhere with Team Rubicon and the Navy Reserve. I was totally un-anchored, and in full control of the when and the where on my schedule. By the end of 2015, when Elise finished in France, I had covered 45,500 miles in just seven months, only spending an average of 3.3 nights in each location, and over half of those nights were on a sailboat or couch (shout-out to Jay, thanks bro!).
The tempo continued to build after that. When Elise left France, it was time to swap roles, so I went to Italy to do a masters, and she did the jet-setting. If you ask her about it, you’ll see that she put up some outlandish travel numbers too. That lasted a fantastic, but too short, 6 months, before we headed back in the U.S. for a little while – and it even looked like fate was going to keep us there. First it was Boston, then Chicago, then Boston again, but then… Germany? A Navy opportunity fell into my lap and I was off again!
In the first two years of these “Wanderlust Years”, I calculate that I covered just over 132,000 miles, which is roughly enough to have circled the earth 5.3 times! In that time, I’ve been to 13+ countries outside North America, and I even visited around 17 U.S. states, so it’s not like I was slouching domestically either.
It’s not all great news though. One of the metrics I track in my spreadsheet is how often Elise and I are together… and the results are always grim. In the lead-off year, 2015, we were together for only 51% of the year; which is especially depressing when you realize we were still living together for the first five months! And 2016 didn’t fare much better, with an annual together-rate of only 52%. And 2017? Well, we’re off to a rough start so far, looking at about 23% through July. Needless-to-say, it’s been hard, and we certainly aim to improve that in the future, but we have poured a lot of time and effort into making it work. Our advice: Skype often, never stay angry, never assume too much from the tone of a text, and see each other WHENEVER possible, even if it means flying transatlantic for a weekend.
Having said that…
…these wanderlust years have been amazing. I have learned so much about myself, both who I am and who I want to become, and most importantly, that I haven’t gotten there yet. Who I am is an inconsistent mystery, always challenging me to be better understood, to resolve more, and continuously improve the results. In other words, I’m a work in progress. Fortunately, the chapter will continue as Elise ventures off on her next turn of jet-setting (see her blog), an itinerary which is guaranteed to stretch our maps, and ourselves, to new lengths.
View my full travel report here: Justins Travel Report 2015-17
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