A Reason to Wander: Interview with Sloan and Amy

Sloan and AmySloan and Amy

In 2006, Sloan and Amy decided to leave the comfort of home and embark on a year-long round the world trip that took them through Asia, Europe and Central America, before they eventually arrived back in the United States in late 2007. Along the way, they shared stories and photographs from their trip on their blog, Reason to Wander.

TravelBlogs caught up with Sloan and Amy to find out why they decided to make this journey, what they learned along the way, and what advice they could offer other people considering leaving home to travel the world.

What was your main reason to wander?

Evolution. We had both been planted in our careers, good jobs, safe jobs, for a number of years and were contemplating some kind of change. At first we thought about looking for new jobs, just to shake things up a little, grow in different ways, but we knew that new jobs would only excite and challenge us for a year, maybe two, before everything became familiar again. So we started fantasizing about bigger change, something that wasn’t “safe” and would completely alter the way we saw the world. We decided the best way to do that was to start by actually seeing the world.

I feel more mature after this trip than I ever have. That’s a strange feeling, considering that this is the only time in my adult life that I have also been unemployed and homeless.

Had either of you traveled much before this trip?

No. We’d both made short trips to Western Europe and Mexico, all of which were before we ever met one another. Early in our relationship though, we found that we traveled well together on a few long, spontaneous road trips around the U.S.

What have been some of the highlights of the trip so far?

Sloan: The Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, which moved me in ways I could not foresee. The unexpected warmth and quietly intense curiosity of the people in China. Driving across the back-highway expanses of the American West without cell phone reception or encountering another car for hours. The otherworldly seascape of the Bacuit Archipelago in Palawan, Philippines. And the rainy season in Bangkok, which frequently left us no option but to stay indoors and eat Thai food all day.

Amy: My experience swimming with an elephant while she got her daily bath in the Mekong River in Laos has to top the list. I swam around her and hovered right in front meeting her eyes with mine. It was fantastic. Ireland blew me away as I knew it would. It was really great to briefly break free of language barriers. It gave me the chance to make friends with the locals in a way that I was unable to in Asia. Our two-week wilderness adventure tour of Northern and Central Mongolia left me humbled and amazed. The Mongolian countryside is breathtaking and raw and the people are rugged survivors who live hard and rewarding lives. I will also be forever altered by the young Buddhist monks I met along the way. Their quiet dedication to a world more truthful rubbed off on me in ways I’m still just realizing. Also, our competitive “spot the monk on a motorbike” game never got old.

Mongolian sunsetSunset in Mongolia.

At the start of your trip, you wrote that you expected the experiences on your journey would change you in ways you couldn’t then imagine. In hindsight, how much has this trip changed you?

Sloan: It’s changed me tremendously, and I don’t just mean the dormant jungle parasite I probably picked up in Malaysia. I’m so much more aware of life outside the U.S., everything from the bloody politics of southern Thailand to the dining customs of Filipinos (no forks in the mouth, who knew?), that I’ll never see my domestic life in the same way. We’ve been back in the States for a month now and I’m also feeling pangs of wanderlust stronger than I’ve ever known. We were in a bookstore just last week and the Lonely Planet section made me weepy.

Amy: I feel more mature after this trip than I ever have. That’s a strange feeling, considering that this is the only time in my adult life that I have also been unemployed and homeless.

Were you looking forward to coming home?

Very much so. And it was every bit as sweet and disorienting as we expected. Going through immigration in Los Angeles was very Alice in Wonderland, especially when we met Betty White.

What advice do you have for people who might be considering leaving their jobs to travel the world?

1) Don’t make excuses. We have met people from all over the world doing the same thing as us, people who had children with them, people who had virtually no money, people who had important jobs, people who had unfortunate medical conditions and people who never before believed they had the courage to do something like this. All of us made it happen and none of us regretted it. This can be you. Once you decide to do it now and not “someday,” you’ll be amazed at how easily the rest comes together. And when the naysayers say you’re making a big mistake, that your life will never be the same again, just smile and tell them that’s the point.

2) Don’t ever drink the water. Not even in Singapore.

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Discussion »

  • #1Kahn Arshad

    Together with my wife, we drove overland around the world from mid 2002 to early 2003, a complete circle covering 28 countries for nearly 50,000km. What an experience! I agree no one should shrink from such an epic venture; once you begin, everything runs almost smoothly with soluble hiccups. The route must be planned, documents acquired for border crossings. Of course hassles and dangers cannot be foreseen but with common sense all could turn out well. One thing we all agree is that the people of every country are helpful and nice, at times going out their ways to assist travellers. We made many friends.

    Sloan and Amy have reasons to travel at a young age and this is a wise decision for I know they will do it again; the experience will linger on and the urge will pull them out again. No books can ever tell you the experience that you gain. All the best to you. We were restless after successful careers and the children were on their own when we decided in our late fifties to drive around the world. We are thinking of going out again, perhaps for a longer duration.

  • #2kitt

    say a person or couple was looking to set off for, say, a year. about much cash reserve should they look to go with? is there a way to make money on the road?

  • Add Your Comment

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