Round the World?

It’s my birthday today, and I’m feeling a bit sentimental. If it’s any day where I can get away with a bit of longing for simpler, more innocent times, it’d be today, so I had Melissa dig up some old photos from our mini-round the world summer and scan them in for a quick post. I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I first strapped on a backpack and hit the road: Melissa and I cut off all our hair for easy travel and were excited beyond belief by our EuroRail passes, passport and money holders, and of course, the backpacks. We threw those things on for a quick photo-op here, in Miami, before heading to the airport in May, 1999. Our friends told us we wouldn’t last a week. When Melissa threw a bit of a fit halfway over the Atlantic, I feared they were right. But we ended up having that life-changing trip that people write novels about. We enjoyed every single minute (even the bad ones!), because our independent souls loved the freedom.

March 19, 1999 (my 23rd birthday): “Happy traveling this summer!”

My mom gave me a travel journal for my birthday, and I used it to cover every single day of my trip, technically an RTW (round the world)-type, long-term adventure, although we had never heard that term. Man I wish I still kept a journal. I did for many, many years — it was my month in Borneo two years ago when I looked at my empty notebook on the way home and knew I was a lost cause. Luckily, I soon started a blog!

May 22, 1999, Melissa and I went looking for some friends we were supposed to meet up with. We had no iPhones, iPads, nothing. Just a hotmail account we could check in Internet cafes. I later wrote, “We got a little lost, but we figured they’d wait. Instead of a small group of blond American girls, we found hundreds of drunk Brits cheering around a huge fountain filled with naked soccer fans. Bad loss?”

As a dear friend whose birthday also happens to be today just told me: “Let the games begin.”

We spent a good chunk of time in Spain, where I studied abroad in college, and Portugal, and we went as far southeast as Greece and all the way up north to Stockholm. We flew by the seat of our pants, changing plans on a whim, following our hearts. We got lost, spent the night in places we thought were other places, jumped on boats that took us twice as long as needed to get someplace…

It was heaven!

As I wrote last week, I went to a shaman recently who was adamant about reconnecting with my younger, more carefree self, and I made a pact at the beginning of the year to make happiness a priority in 2012, to throw out all preconceived notions of what my life should be like. Through all the ups and down of my life, I always vow to be free to make my own choices. This year, I am doing what I love, in a city that I love, and traveling whenever I possibly can. I haven’t dwelled on anything, I have fun, I seek adventure.

I often hide from the attention that comes on my birthday, but this year, I am giving myself the love I deserve.

Happy birthday to me! And may I continue to have an exciting life filled with adventure…

Who’s with me?

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Feliz cumpleanos chica! I did not even recognize you in the photo, wow have you changed – all for the better of course.

    I hope you have a wonderful day, you deserve all the best.

  2. Two words: love. it.

    Happy Birthday, Abby! We’re so happy to have you as part of our circle of amazing people and we wish you continued happiness as 2012 continues to unfold.

    Here’s to freedom and to making our own choices.

  3. Love this post and that you are embracing yourself 🙂

    Happy birthday!!!

  4. Happy birthday!!! Love that you posted some photos and talked about traveling pre-iPhone and iPad and laptop and all the crazy technology we have today. I always wonder what it would have been like for my mom to travel and hitchhike in Europe in the 70s–SO different (and I think more liberating) than the experience I had. But I even remember spending a summer in Provence in 2004 and saving up to call home on payphones and using a dial-up connection to update my livejournal and send emails home–so crazy how things have changed. Hope you have a brilliant day and enjoy connecting to your younger self 🙂

  5. 13 years! Woop! Nice one Abby and Happy Birthday! You’ve come a long way since those sketchy photos of your youth eh?

  6. That was a lifetime ago! Yes, I’ve changed so much it’s crazy…

    It was SO freeing traveling without being able to be reached. The last months of innocence, I think! But I do so enjoy how connected we all are now. It has opened so many doors!

  7. Lol you said it not me — love it!!

  8. Feliz cumple Abby!! Love this post and the look back to old photos. Here’s to be being free and to many more years of memories 🙂

  9. Hi Abby!
    Happy Birthday! Beautiful story of your travel history. Surely this is not going to end anytime soon!
    I just started my long-term backpacking 2 months ago and I hope to be on the road at least for 6 months. I also wished I brought a travel journal to note down some random thoughts but I already have my blog with me. Anyawys, happy bday again! 😀

  10. Hi Abby!!

    I like so much you last post especially bacause of your freedom of spirit and mind! You remind me at my childhood when I used to travel a lot in Italy from North to South and I’ve also had the possibility to see other beautiful places in Europe and South America. If I look back I can say that travel and make so different experiences can be one of the best thing that can happen during your childhood. At the moment I’m very lucky because thanks to my B&B in Tuscany, I have the chance to know and stay in touch with a lot of people around the world even if I travel less than before!!

    Have a good day!
    Happy Birthday!!

    Bye for now.

  11. Awwww I love vintage Abby! You’ve always been a heartbreaker, clearly =)

  12. Happy Birthday!

    I hope you enjoyed your day. Keep being true to yourself!

  13. What wonderful comments. Thank you, everyone. 🙂

  14. Ahh! I love this!!! You look so happy. It’s amazing how much times have changed since then. I remember when I did my first trip … it was all about the e-mail and getting lost, etc. What a beautiful way to pay tribute to your birthday!!!! Love you.

  15. I’m dying over your dark hair! Happy birthday and here’s to this year being just as freeing and fulfilling as 23 was.

  16. I love this post, Abby! One of my favorites from you. I always wished I’d done the “Europe thing” soon after college, but I never did, and I still haven’t visited the majority of Europe to this day.

  17. Thank you, everyone! Yes, it is amazing how much you get to see when backpacking. I often wish I had it in me to do it again, but I’m not sure I do. I do, however, want to live out of the country again. We’ll see!

  18. Happy Birthday! I didn’t recognise you either – but I’m definitely wishing you an exciting life full of adventure!

  19. I already wrote you an email but again!! Happy birthday 🙂

  20. (Happy birthday to me!)
    That is emotional. Belated Happy Birthday.

  21. Thanks, guys! It’s so funny how many people think I look THAT different lol.

  22. Happy birthday Abby! What a VERY cute post and you look so adorable! <3

  23. Oh, happy belated birthday, Abby! I’m late on everything these days. I hope you celebrated in the grand style you deserve. So proud of you for being able to strap on that backpack 13 years ago and explore the world. That’s something I never had the courage to do back then, but you did. Here’s to many more years of great adventures.

  24. 1999 seems like such a long time ago – It’s amazing thinking about how much harder round the world travel was before the iphones and ipads and GPS apps and everything.

  25. Happy birthday Abby!

  26. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Abby. Enjoyed reading about your first RTW. What a great experience. I wish that I’d had a chance to study abroad for a while like you did in Spain. (I’m kind of curious about Melissa’s fit over the Atlantic!)

  27. Thank you, everyone!!

  28. Happy Birthday! What great travel memories to have and share! Hope you have many more years of happy travels.

  29. Girl, i *knew* there was something I liked about you!! we share the same birthday!! Hope you had a wonderful day…and have a wonderful year!!!

  30. I missed your birthday! Well, happy belated birthday! You look so adorable in those photos.

  31. Happy birthday a bit late. And here’s to heaps more exciting travels to remember for birthdays to come.

  32. Happy Birthday!!! Love the post, especially the ending.

  33. It’s so cool to have so many adventurous online travel friends!

  34. Can’t believe I missed seeing this *on* your birthday, but Happy Birthday!! You continue to inspire and amaze me dear friend!! You definitely deserve to remember all the adventures you used to have, proudly, and relish all the ones you still have ahead of you. I’m quite sure there are indeed many many more.

  35. Wow, hope you had a great day, lovely pictures!

  36. Happy belated birthday, Abby! Hope you had a great time!

  37. What wonderful photos and memories and I love your 2012 resolution. Travel is truly life changing. Oh, and a belated happy birthday 🙂

  38. Travel IS life-changing!! What a wonderful way to put it. 🙂

  39. HBD Abby! Vintage pics are always fun 🙂

  40. What a fun idea for a post! I remember the days of the no technology when traveling and I also remember when airplanes either had no entertainment system and you just listened to the 12 radio stations or when there was just that one big projection screen that the whole plane watched haha.
    I wish I could of backpacked in ’99! 🙂
    Happy Birthday again! xoxo

  41. Happy birthday (a bit late perhaps..!) Love the old photos, and how happy you are in your life 🙂

  42. Happy birthday! I’ve always dreamt about doing a trip like that. Maybe one day I will!

  43. I realize how late I am on commenting on this, but seriously, I LOVE LOVE this post!! I think it is so great that you are looking back on fond memories and that you are celebrating yourself this year! Keep it up and have a great year!!

  44. Just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did. Very inspiring post and I’ve had a great time perusing the rest of them!

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