I left New York City three weeks ago, but it feels like a lot longer.
On February 15th, my girlfriend Sam and I did something crazy: we packed ourselves, our things, and her dog into a 16-foot Budget truck and left the city. We drove through snow and rain for two days (she drove, actually; I played navigator) to get to her mother’s house in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. We unloaded the truck and took stock of our lives. We were, at once, both home and homeless.
I’ve had the privilege to travel more than many. But besides a month-long stint in Udaipur, India, it’s all been relatively short trips. Like a lot of people, I’ve dreamt of bigger adventures. Last year Sam and I started saying, at least half kidding, that we should pick up our lives and move to Asia.
Eventually, we stopped kidding. Sam left her day job last summer, and I’m getting ready to go back to school for a Master’s degree. We realized that we had more freedom than we would have anytime in the foreseeable future and very little keeping us in New York. We bought tickets to Hanoi and got three-month visas. We plan to spend about a month in northern Vietnam before making our way down the coast to Ho Chi Minh City, then traveling north through Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos before flying out of Hanoi in May.
This is all completely terrifying. I’m excited but petrified, and extremely grateful that I have Sam to push me out of my comfort zone. I have no idea what the next three months have in store, but I think I’m ready to find out.
We’ve been in Hanoi several days now, but more on that later. After Sam and I got to Michigan, we spent a couple days packing before getting back on the road. I’ll have to commit to a grad school while we’re in Asia, so it made sense to visit a couple of programs. We went to Ann Arbor, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis, plus a short stop in Madison to see some of my family. It was a whirlwind week. As our adventures overseas begin, here are just a few highlights from our Midwestern road trip.