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In the final month of 2018, I left the USA to get a fresh start in Australia. The 12 months that followed proved to be the most challenging, rewarding year of my life.

Here’s how 2019 changed me.

friends walking on sidewalk

Every long-term traveler will agree:

When you move to a foreign country alone, you change. Substantially. Most will also agree that these changes are largely due to the people you meet along the way.

This was certainly my case.

Something a lot of my friends back home don’t realize about the travel lifestyle is this: 

I haven’t met a single fellow traveler that left home as a result complete contentment with their lives. This isn’t to say things were terrible back home, but most people, myself included, are running away from something or another when booking that ticket. 

Sometimes, a long-term traveler may land at their destination and feel their burdens melt away instantly. These are the lucky few. For most, the feelings of dissatisfaction that pushed them to run away in the first place may linger. Depending on the person, it may take weeks, or even months to conquer these negative thoughts as they are tossed into the spin-cycle of an unfamiliar environment that only aggravates their vulnerable state.

It’s a strange phenomenon, that first period away from home; a potent cocktail of upheaval from your comfort zone, mixed with unfinished inner-battles.

Personally, the moment I stepped off of that plane, I went through a 4-5 month period of nonstop emotional turbulence. I seemed to have reverted back to my teenage self in many ways- full of neediness, impatience, and general uncertainty regarding who I was, and what exactly I wanted to gain from this experience.

Thankfully, when I left Melbourne in March 2019 to decompress in a small northeast Australian town, I seemed to snap out of this funk almost instantly. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to process those weird first months, and fully-realize the value I gained from them.

boy on beach
Afternoon bro trip to Brighton Beach, one of my favorite Melbourne suburbs

So what do we humans do when we need to work through shit?

Everyone’s different, but by and large, we talk to people. Socializing has always been the primary method for humans to work through challenges, and I definitely fall into this camp. 

Thankfully, one part of the travel lifestyle that will never change is the constant opportunity to meet people. Hostels, bars, city streets…it’s pretty much unavoidable.

I consider myself lucky to be relatively fearless when it comes to saying hello to strangers, and when you’re by yourself on the other side of the world, strangers are all you have. Many of these strangers you will pass through your life once, and never be seen again. But, unless you never leave your room…a few will naturally grow into something more.

These are the people that will shape your travel experience. 

To the absolutely amazing friends I’ve made.

I’ve met countless amazing travel-mates throughout 2019, making it extremely easy to sit down and discuss this emotional rollercoaster that we’re all riding together.

Whether you were a hostel roommate, a friendly housekeeper, or a pool opponent at the bar, you’ve made my transition to the solo travel lifestyle a much more pleasant experience.

I love you, and I will never, ever forget you. The time we’ve shared has been invaluable to my adventure, and to my life. I am SO thankful for you, and I can’t wait to cross paths again!

The Summerhouse crew- one of several legendary Australia squads
Let’s kick ass in 2020.



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Ben Wehrman

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