I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life. As a kid, I grew up in a small town. I went to college 45 minutes away from home. I currently live about the same distance away from my hometown as my alma mater. I’ve never left Iowa for longer than 2 weeks. These are the facts. This is my life.
This is why I decided to leave the country for 2 months.
Iowa isn’t exactly a travel destination. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things about my home state, but I found it hard to empathize with others who had moved away. The grass is always greener, right? I wasn’t so sure. I couldn’t confidently make that conclusion for myself because I had never moved. I hadn’t experienced the difference between traveling somewhere and living somewhere. I decided to challenge myself. Iowa was comfortable. I wanted to learn more about myself and my passions - to find what drives me and pushes me towards my goals. So, I did it. I moved.
There are a lot of logistics and planning that go into moving. Most people can’t just drop everything and go. You have your family, your friends, your job, a lease/mortgage on an apartment/house, and many other things. Luckily, all of these stars seemed to align for me and the timing was right. I’m fortunate to work in a career that is location independent. As long as I have my computer, I can get my work done. I didn’t have an apartment lease to worry about and was able to find a renter for my condo while I was gone. I had the support of my friends and family. Last but not least, I had a plan. That plan begins with WY_CO.
WY_CO is a travel-while-working program that curates trips around the world for those who want to pursue their love of travel without putting their careers on hold.
They take care of the hard stuff for you. Booking flights between locations. Finding housing and a coworking space. Researching cities and finding the best places to visit. Most importantly, they connect you with like-minded individuals and create a global community of remote professionals. I didn’t realize how crucial this would be.
Fast forward to the beginning of February. As I paced around my condo, I mentally ran through my packing checklist. I triple-checked my suitcase. 1 checked bag. 1 backpack. That was it. I tried to pack as minimal as possible. When you strip back the material possessions, it allows you to focus on what really matters. And with that, I was off to the airport.
I’m by no means a travel expert, but I do have some experience. You’d think with that wisdom I would remember to put my headphones in my backpack. Nope. They were in my checked bag stowed away in the back of the airplane. Luckily, I managed to sleep for 10 hours of the longest 14-hour leg. There’s nothing more satisfying than an open seat beside you on your flight - especially being 6’4”. Hello, legroom!
After arriving in Bali, I wandered through the airport and made it out front where I met my driver. He was taking me to the Canguu Beach Inn, my new home for the month. As we began the drive, I couldn’t help but observe the traffic mayhem. Lanes are more of a suggestion as scooters flood the roads and zip around the compact cars. I definitely wasn’t in Iowa anymore.
Fast forward to right now. As I reflect on the past month, I feel like a different person than when I started this adventure. I’ve allowed myself to be immersed in the culture. I’ve truly connected with the members on this trip and made some lasting connections. Most importantly, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect. Time to re-evaluate my life and refocus my goals. To strip back the haze of monotony and preserve past stagnation.
On top of everything else, learning to juggle traveling and working has been a test of my time management and communication skills. I had to find a healthy balance between work and play when both were easy to indulge in. So whether it was meeting strangers, crazy scooter rides, salsa dancing classes, meditation sessions, drunken karaoke, surfing lessons, cliff jumping, or hiking volcanos… I embraced it and did it all. I took every opportunity to be uncomfortable. And you know what?
I just might have found myself in the process.