From Cubicle Walls to Heavenly Peaks

I’ve taken up the life of a nomad, and I’ve never felt more alive.

Shaman's Rock at Olkhon Island_2 - Lake Baikal

I’ve taken up the life of a nomad, and I’ve never felt more alive. Exploring incredible places, eating street food, and meeting the locals is more exhilarating than anything I’ve ever experienced. Before I started this adventure, I was working a full-time job with a career on the fast track. Still, I felt unsettled and a bit stir crazy. Something was missing from my life.

Then, I took a short trip to Vietnam and met several Westerners who had been traveling for months at a time. Their freedom inspired me to quit my job and become a full-time traveler.

Lake Baikal_2

It was the perfect time for my husband and me to make this move: we were young, fit, and, aside from our jobs, had no major responsibilities. Luckily, my husband realized it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. So instead of putting our money toward a down payment on a house or a car, we put it toward a long-term trip.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal_3

After years of planning and saving our money, Mark and I finally left our cubicles behind to travel the world for a year. Even after we’d only been out a few months, we knew we’d made the right choice.

We spent the first month exploring Japan and China, where we did everything from watching ancient monk ceremonies in the holy Okunoin Cemetery to hiking thousands of feet up the heavenly peaks of Zhangjiajie.

Of course, with incredible experiences like these come the numerous discomforts of being a backpacking traveler. Using squatter toilets, wearing smelly clothes, communicating through language barriers, and waking up covered in bug bites are all part of the experience. It can get gross, but every awkward conversation, stinky toilet, and bug bite is worth it for what we get to do.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

Once this trip is over, we will have traveled to over 20 countries, making this year the adventure of a lifetime. It feels like a dream vacation. We’ve finished Japan and China; Mongolia and Russia are next on the list. Already we’ve seen and experienced so much—and it’s only just begun.

Cotopaxi sponsored Britnee and Mark Johnston on their global expeditions across the globe. Check out their other adventures in Asia, the Himalayas, and Europe.