I Traveled the World with 40 Strangers… and Have Grown in 3 Major Ways
"Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?" - Amelia Earhart
Approximately one year ago, I packed nearly everything I owned into a large suitcase and backpack, ready for a year of adventure and connection. I signed up for Remote Year, a year long travel program created for digital nomads (those who can work remotely from their computers). I was headed to Split, Croatia, ready to meet 40 strangers that would be my travel companions, also known as my tramily (travel-family). My travel group was named Earhart.
Having just finished the end of my trip (three days ago), I am thoroughly impressed by just how much my "hart" grew this year. The adventures have been incredible. We spent three months in Europe, three months in Asia, and six months in the Americas. Check out my itinerary:
In the past year, I have: cliff jumped and sailed around Split, sang in foreign languages at a bar in Montenegro, kayaked down the Danube, got lost in ruin bars in Budapest, crawled my way through caves, rode out waves on a surf board for the first time in Lisbon, shared acts of kindness in Spain, trekked the rice fields in Vietnam, Uber-moto'd my way around Hanoi, fed Elephants in the jungles of Thailand, spent a week in silence in a Buddhist sanctuary, shared breathless moments on the island beaches in Malaysia, went rock climbing, danced down the streets of Buenos Aires, had the most beautiful experience on the Sierra Mountains of Argentina, visited Macchu Piccu, lost my mind over the richness of coffee in Colombia, swam with glowing plankton in Cartegena, road a hot air balloon over Mayan ruins, and got lost in the magic of Mexico City. I could go on and on, but I found that these adventures weren't really the most memorable part of my trip.
Sure, I have tried a LOT of weird food (and shit my pants too). I've been lucky enough to make new friends all over the world. I've gotten a teeny bit better at my Spanish and other skill sets. I have learned about so many other cultures and expanded my horizons in new ways. But honestly, I am forever going to remember the people, my tramily, and how they helped me grow. Here's a quick video to get a taste of who Earhart is:
Video is made by the lovely Rachel Yancey
I have learned how to enjoy feeling out of my comfort zone, but rather in a what we call "growth zone." These beautiful souls have helped shape me in so many ways, I will never be able to list them all. However, I have figured out three HUGE areas of growth that I am in awe of today.
My Year of Growth:
When surrounded by people of many different professions - artists, developers, writers, entrepreneurs, videographers, etc. - you naturally begin to absorb the knowledge of everyone around you. Sometimes, people would lead classes or workshops about their skill sets. I learned a lot about using my voice, having hard conversations, starting a business, and creative problems solving.
The classes were great, but a lot of my learning happened organically, through collaborative conversation. We would often come to each other with problems at work or seeking some kind of professional advice. With such a group, there were endless opinions and even when I didn't agree with people, I still learned something.
The biggest contributor to my personal growth was being surrounded by a community of people who had solid faith in me, who knew that I was capable of so much more than I gave myself credit for. It was the way Kelly looked up to me for my ability to find such productivity throughout the chaos of travel. Lauren who constantly provided advice on my business strategy. Connor who always made me feel like I am capable of accomplishing whatever the hell I want to, that I should be dreaming bigger. The list could go on.
I launched a business on this trip! While working full time and exploring new cities, I started my yoga membership and continued to grow this blog. It is an amazing accomplishment and one I am proud of.
Enhancing my Communication
I've been traveling with a bunch of strangers who have become family, who know deep crevasses of my heart and soul. This kind of connection never would have happened had our communication been broken and our conversations shallow. This is a growth I have witnessed in every single person in the group.
We've had to experience a lot of tough conversations. Things as simple as confronting a roommate about something bothering you or seeking the help of a leader when struggling with a personal situation. We dug deeper when experiencing violence and racism and assault. We not only asked why, we asked "what can we do?" and "how can we make an impact?" We sat around in circles and shared our deepest pains with each other, and then watched each other blossom.
I learned how to communicate my needs and desires. More importantly, I learned how to communicate my boundaries within friendships and in the privacy of my bedroom. Even when uncomfortable, I am now able to speak my truth, knowing that feeling uncomfortable simply means I am growing and challenging myself.
On our final weekend of the trip, we spent our farewell party swimming, laughing, and sharing stories in a nature reserve outside of Mexico City. My favorite part of the weekend was sitting around the campfire, sharing how we have each grown this year. I shared the two growth zones I stated above, but suddenly words were pouring out of my mouth that I hadn't really taken the time to consider.
When I decided to leave my marriage, I had to really harden and put a wall up around my heart. I remember writing in my journal many times before beginning this trip that I was afraid I would never be able to really love again, not as much as I was able to before. This, in my mind, included friendship love and romantic love, all of it.
My first few months on this trip were more of a struggle than I admitted to many people at the time. I had a strong sense of not belonging. Everyone was so different from me. I felt like no one would ever understand me - this weird, quirky, veg-head, yoga, dancing girl with an inconsistent style/personality. And don't get me wrong - I didn't quite understand any of them either.
However, I opened up and began to really connect with the people in the group. We all had differences, many in fact, but it didn't matter. There was something in each human I could appreciate and cherish. Slowly, I began to fall in love. With. Every. Single. One. I poured my heart into them, and they returned the favor.
I even fell further in love with myself. I've explored new possibilities of who I am and allowed myself to experiment with who I want tomorrow Taryn to be. It's been a journey full of nothing but heart.
My heart is fuller than it's ever been, constantly expanding and growing. How blessed am I to have loved again and to continue loving so many?
Home is where the HARTS are <3
I know I am not ready to settle back into "normal" life anytime soon, that I yearn for more travel, more growth, and more connection. Travel will continue to be a major part of my life and I look forward to what that looks like.
I also know that no experience will ever be close to replicating this year with my Earhart family and what we have been through together. For this, I am eternally indebted and grateful to every soul who has been a part of this journey, whether part of my community for the year or a new piece of the puzzle along the way. I love you all.
I'm excited to see who future Taryn is thanks to this opportunity.
I would love to know, if you have done a lot of travel, how has it helped you to grow? Comment below and let's continue the conversation!
Thank you for being a part of my story,