5000 Days On The Road

I’ve Now Been On The Road For 5000 Days…

Derek Personal Stuff, Perspectives 82 Comments

5000 Days On The Road

There wasn’t much of a celebration upon reaching this milestone. In fact, I didn’t even know that I had reached 5000 days when September 4th came around. I was with my Wandering Earl “Wander Across Romania & Moldova” tour group at the time and we were in the city of Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. We spent most of that day walking around town before eating a late lunch. We did happen to finish off that lunch with several rounds of vodka and we also happened to continue drinking vodka back at our hotel later that evening, however, the vodka had nothing to do with any celebration for being on the road for 5000 days. We were simply in a part of the world that drinks vodka and so, naturally, we wanted to participate in this activity as well.

It wasn’t until a week later that I received the first congratulatory email from a reader of the blog. “Congratulations on 5000 days!” is exactly what it said. A few days later, in came another email, and then another, followed by a couple of messages on my Facebook page…and that’s when I finally took a moment to acknowledge the situation.

Yes, since December 25th, 1999, I have now been traveling, living, working and volunteering around the world for over 5000 days. Never thought it would happen, never even had this as a goal, never imagined that such a ridiculous thing was even possible, or an option, for a regular guy from a regular family who grew up in a regular town.

Apparently, it is possible. It’s certainly not as easy to achieve as many others like to claim (as in snap your fingers and voila!), but it absolutely is possible without a doubt.

At the same time, I must say that this lifestyle is not for everyone. While 5000 days on the road might seem like a dream come true, a dream that you would love to achieve yourself, a life of constant travel does not always match people’s expectations. It’s a far, far stranger and more challenging existence than most imagine to just pick up and go and go and go and go…

And that’s why it’s important to realize that the length of time a person travels really doesn’t matter. It’s the actual travel experiences – the interactions, the education, the life-changing moments – that count, regardless of whether you are on the road for 5, 500, 5000, or even more, days.

Like I’ve said before, I certainly had no idea my 3-month trip to Southeast Asia was going to turn into 14 years and counting, and at this very moment, I have no idea if my trip is going to involve 14 more years, or maybe only 14 more days. Who knows? But even if my travels had ended after one month or one year, or if they end tomorrow, I’d be fully satisfied with my journey because my focus has always been on the experiences, not on trying to travel for as long as I possibly could.

So, the point of this post is that, while 5000 sounds like a nice big number, it’s really no big deal. It just happens to be how my life has unfolded. And while I certainly do very much appreciate the congratulations and kind messages I’ve received this month, I would also like to offer my genuine congratulations to every single one of you who has taken that first step already, to all of you who have traveled, who are currently traveling and who will be traveling soon, whether it be for 1 week, 1 month or more than 1 year.

Your own stories are what inspire others. Your own stories help us realize that our goals in life are achievable. Your own stories show that once the adventure begins, the effort and determination required to reach that point was, without a doubt, completely worth it.

Once again, CONGRATULATIONS to all of you travelers and soon-to-be travelers! We should all be celebrating together!


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Comments 82

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  2. Theresa Lord

    Wow! 5000 days on the road is so inspirational! I keep going back to Tasmania and working and saving my pennies and then taking off for a year – this works nicely as I get to go back to see family. But if I could achieve what you are doing with my own travels, that would be awesome! Stoked I found your website! When you have time, check out mine 🙂

  3. Dudian

    Dear Earl,

    I really enjoy your blog and I really want to congratulate you for the way you understand to explain us all your experiences. This blog, more than a travel one, is very educative and should lead every reader of it to recount its life, experiences and priorities.
    A common friend told me about your blog, Andrei from Bucharest, you met him for a tea in India last month. I’m from Bucharest and maybe sometime if you want we can enjoy a tea at “Ceai la Metoc” 🙂
    But it’s enought time, I just wanted to congratulate you for having a different travel blog. Enjoy your stay in Goa.

    Alex.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Alex – Great to read your message and I would definitely be interested in meeting up when I return to Romania. I will be back in Bucharest in the middle of December and will say for at least one month. Not sure if La Metoc is open in the winter but luckily, there are plenty of places for tea in that city!

  4. Mikeachim

    I won’t say congrats for the number. 5,000 is impressive, but so is 4,999, and so on.

    But I will say congratulations – *massive* congratulations – for getting out into the world so long ago, with nothing but uncertainty as your guide, and turning that uncertainty into something solid that sustains you, and then turning *that* into a lifestyle that is fundamentally built from the ground up by you, your way, that gives you all the things you need to thrive and grow – and doing that publicly, sharing it with your readers as you go along, so they can take what they need from it.

    That is no small achievement. And I congratulate you for it.

    I’m all for raising a glass and celebrating everyone’s successes, but the first beer is bought by me, for you, sir.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thank you for that note Mike and believe me, I will greatly look forward to sitting down over a beer with you until we can finally make it happen. I’ll actually be passing through Heathrow twice in the coming two months, so perhaps it will happen before the end of the year!

  5. shane

    What an amazing adventure Earl. Congratulations on a milestone and an even bigger congrats on it not even being a milestone that in itself is beautiful. Keep on loving life, experincing the world and the joys that it brings. Keep sharing your adventure we all love following your journey.

  6. Brie' (Like the cheese)

    A traveler doesn’t count the days they have been on the road, its nearly impossible to keep track when there are new experiences around every corner. I originally set off to travel in January of 2015! NOW, I have pushed that date closer to April of this coming year. My first plan is to go down the West Coast, while applying some rules. Put a blog post up once a week, and a photography post as well. No more then 3 consecutive nights in one place, that being a hostel, or a hosts place. I cannot travel more then 150 miles in a day. Maybe, just maybe… I will continue to go around the boarder once I hit San Diego, but, like you said, Its about the experiences.

  7. Alex | Partial Parallax

    An interesting and very grounded post but still 5000 days is quite the accomplishment especially as when you started you didn’t even plan for a year! Of course it is the experiences that you have but no doubt you’ve had many awesome times on the road I hope the road takes you to where you want to be and enjoy your travels!

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  9. Noel

    Congratulations Earl! That’s an incredible number. But what’s more amazing are the experiences you’ve had in those 5000 days! I only managed half of what you’ve achieved. Keep on traveling and inspiring others!

  10. Vagabond Tim

    Congratulations are definitely in order, that is quite an amazing departure from the planned three months. You somehow managed to be worse at estimating than I am 🙂

    Keep it up as I hope to run into you someday in some strange and far off place.
    I think I’ll aim for India in 2014

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tim – Haha…yeah, I really messed up that estimation. Not sure I could have messed it up any worse! But as I’m sure you feel too, I’m quite happy I got that one wrong.

  11. Hannah@GettingStamped

    Wow! 5000 days on the road is a big number and it is truly inspiring. We just started our RTW trip which will only be for 2 years, very much less than what you have accomplished already! Glad i stumbled on your blog! Made us more inspired to travel!

  12. Paul

    WOW! Congratulations! That’s pretty incredible! I’m currently in Tekapo, New Zealand and I’ve been travelling now for 8 months and I thought that was long! Here’s for the next 5000!

  13. Gary Langrick

    Well done Earl. Been following you for about 9 months now since my relationship went down the pan and I decided I should travel and really see the world. Done a bit of the uk already, started a web page (www.hobolife.co.uk) and am all set to go to India in a few weeks. All inspired by you.

    Enjoy your travels matey

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gary – Well, if you happen to be in Goa, India during the first two weeks of November, I’ll be there. And congrats on the decision to do some traveling!

  14. Nicole

    I think you nailed it with the interaction with travel. If it’s meaningful, it doesn’t matter how long the traveling is. =) Congratulations on 5000 days of travel.

  15. Sam

    Cool! The fact that this went by without you noticing is what I think is really inspirational…you’ve shown over and over that a life like yours is possible, and even though you didn’t necessarily plan for it, it can happen!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sam – It certainly can happen and I’m still quite surprised by that fact at times. On a side note, I just arrived in India and had a local shave. It reminded me of our shave conversation in Aleppo!

  16. Anders

    Nice work, Earl. Especially like your attitude that you just happen to have reached this point and the future is still an open book!

    My 12 month sabbatical begins in 33 days….not that i’m counting 😉

  17. Jess

    Totally agree mate! I’ve been on the road for a couple of months now and can definitely say that it’s the new experiences and the wonderful people that have made this adventure so fulfilling.

    Living out of a bag for so long can sometimes get exhausting. But in the last few yers that I’ve travelled, worked and volunteered I’ve learnt so much about the world and surprisingly so much more about myself. Every bit of exposure you have to something new enriches your life.

    I’ve loved reading your adventures to date. You are an inspiration to me and to the many others I’ve referred to your interesting blog. So rather than a big congratulations to celebrate this milestone I think I’ll finally comment on your blog and send you a big thank you instead 🙂

    THANK YOU EARL!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jess – I certainly do appreciate the comment 🙂

      And like you, I also believe that travel is all about the people and the education received. Those two things are enough to convince many people to continue traveling for much longer than they ever imagined. Let us see where your own trip takes you…

  18. jonny

    Congratulations Earl! Something I’ve always wondered is why there are certain places you’ve never visited. After all, 14 years is a long time – is there a reason that you’ve left most of South America and Africa untouched, for example? Maybe you could write a post about that; it’d be interesting to know.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jonny – No real reason. I’m not the kind of person that is really interested in seeing every country on the planet. So if I like a place, I’ll go back many times instead of going to a new country. As for Africa, the main reason is that now that I’m working online, it will be a little harder to travel there. I need to be quite connected these days. As for South America, I’ve spent a good amount of time in the south of that continent and a ton of time in Central America/Mexico, so for now, I’m just taking a break from the region. But I’ll be back there eventually.

  19. Emily McIntyre

    Congratulations! That’s a long time to be on the road! I am traveling, within the US. Currently in Portland, but in the past few months have been throughout the Southwest, lived in LA, and been to San Diego, Colorado, and northern California. Soon to go to Albuquerque, then Kansas City, and then come back here to Portland to live.

    I love traveling, and I love coming home. I wrote this about an adventure in Redding, CA, yesterday. http://www.travelingmcintyres.tumblr.com/post/62720403341/reaching-for-the-clouds

    Good luck and looking forward to continuing to read your stories.

  20. Passport Dave

    Congratulations! Can’t wait until my first major international trip.. leaving in December to Southeast Asia(I know, cliche) with no return trip planned, just onward travel. Been traveling around a lot semi-locally for now. About to take a bike trip around Florida in a few days. Hopefully I can accomplish everything I have always wanted and travel every part of this Earth. This site has given me the inspiration to actually make it happen! Thank you so much for your amazing writing!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dave – I can’t wait to hear about your trip and December is coming up quite quickly! Enjoy your local travels for now but I can imagine the excitement building for your greater journey on the horizon.

  21. Paul

    Congrats! Thats a really cool milestone, you are an inspiration to many people around the globe. The proof is there in your footsteps, proof that one can pick up and travel the globe or for that fact do anything in life that one wants to achieve! Your footsteps are the proof!

    I to set out for my first REAL O/S adventure with a plan to travel through South East Asia for 3-4 months with no real plan… Just to take in the experience, learn and grow as a person. The difference between our journey was that I returned home close to the 4 month timeframe… but what an adventure! This opened me up to SOOO many possibilities! My first REAL O/S travel experience was at 39 years of age… haven’t looked back.. it was my Mid Life Adjustment. I now travel O/S regularly as my work is all done online… Thank you Mr Internet and Thank you Earl for being a demonstration for WHAT IS POSSIBLE! Cheers to your adventures!!! Ride The Waves of Life!!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Paul – Great story there and I think that’s a very true statement about a single travel experience suddenly opening up so many opportunities that we never knew even existed before. And I must also join you in giving a big thank you to Mr Internet!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jeremy – Haha…hey, 77 days is no easy feat. This traveling stuff is usually not nearly as easy as we think!

  22. Sonya B

    Congrats on 5000 days! I appreciate what you’re saying too about the experiences you have. I only travel about 8-12 weeks per year but I get a lot out of it and I feel it’s still completely worthwhile.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sonya – 8-12 weeks, 8-12 days, 8-12 years…whatever it is, it is definitely worth it, that’s for sure.

  23. Craig

    Hey Earl. I like your thinking. Well, I will be stepping out of my comfort zone soon and am taking my first trip to southeast Asia for 2 weeks at Christmas. I am heading to Thailand where it all started for you. I have never been to any Asian countries so any advice on Thailand and its people and culture would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Craig – That’s great to hear that you have your trip coming up and as for advice, all I can say is that you should take your time, don’t rush your experiences and don’t try to see everything. It’s much better in my opinion to see a few places and stay in each place for a few days (so that you can interact with more people, see more, learn more, etc.) than to try and cram 20 places into two weeks.

      Thailand is popular for a reason though and it’s a wonderful place to start traveling, so I have no doubt you will come back here after your trip is over and give us all an extremely positive report about your experiences!

  24. Cheryl Cholley

    Earl, that’s absolutely amazing! Congratulations, and here’s to 5000 more. I know when Tom and I did four months and seventeen countries, I was feeling burned out. But I discovered that we had attempted to do our around-the-world trip in too short a time and see too much. Now, as we prepare for our new adventure, perpetual…slow travel…we’ll keep you in mind on our journey.

    Maybe you can tell me this, in addition to taking things slower and at a more leisurely pace, what other secrets can you pass along?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Cheryl – Slow is definitely a better way to go in my opinion as well. And also, I would say that it’s best not to plan much in advance, to just arrive in a new place and let the adventure unfold. If you already have all the transportation around the world planned, then you’ll be quite limited when you decide you want to stay longer (or shorter) in a particular destination. Having the freedom to change your plans as you see fit, to suddenly venture off to a new location that you had never considered before, to spend more time in an area that you absolutely love, makes a major difference.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jaime – Thank you my friend and I look forward to catching up at some point once again, over Mexican food of course!

  25. Jonny Blair

    Nice work Earl!! 5000 is a crazy number!! I actually celebrated 10 years away this week – the only difference is I kind of knew about it in advance and prepared a tin of cold beer to have with my dinner in the desert in Jordan. Would love to meet up on one of your next 5000 days wandering round this sphere. Safe travels and keep inspiring!! Jonny

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jonny – I have no doubt we’ll meet up at some point. And I’ll even crack open a beer when we do to celebrate both of our journeys!

  26. Oscar

    Congratulations for the 5000 days on the road. I like your phrase ” It’s the actual travel experiences that counts…” All travels we have done are the most incredible stories of our lifes, I think “travel” is something so beautiful to remember. Keep going!

  27. Staci

    Cheers to inspiration!

    I am ecstatic to say that after much planning, my husband and I are 10 months from leaving on a year long adventure with our 14 year old daughter and 17 year old son. I am beyond excited to explore the world with my favorite people and watch how traveling to unknown places, meeting amazing people and experiencing new cultures will affect their worldview. I think that the four of us venturing out into the world together with open minds and open hearts is going to be one heck of a kickass adventure and I can’t wait for it to begin!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Staci – That will absolutely be one amazing adventure…sharing your experiences as a family, the good times and the bad, will have endless benefits for the family as a whole and each individual person involved. I’ll look forward to hearing your updates once you get started!

  28. dojo

    Wonderful milestone 😉

    We’re not traveling right now, we’re expecting a child and I’m not really in shape to do too much traveling. But we do plan plan on resuming our travels as soon as possible.

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