It was a year and a half ago and one year after the “incident” that I was sitting on a Costa Rica beach watching one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen when it hit me. Like a summer thunderstorm that appears from nowhere to “rain” on a clear, summer afternoon, the emotions overwhelmed me, as I experienced a sense of adventure, wonder, and beauty that I hadn’t felt since my childhood. I had never felt so accomplished. No promotion, award, title, or acknowledgement could hold the weight of this moment, to fall back in love with the world and to see how beautiful life really was. To this day, that night on a Costa Rica beach, on month 8 of a 9-month trip around North America, remains one of the most momentous times of my life. It was then, on that Costa Rica beach that I realized that travel had changed me, and all because of Twitter.

As I recently sat in my friend Jonathan’s living room in Atlanta, shooting the shit, about everything from both of our travels from the last few months to the heated Major League Baseball playoff race to the latest innovations in social media to which European beer tasted better, a certain nostalgia came over me. My life over the last two years, from quitting my job to traveling for nine months to moving to San Francisco, flashed before my eyes, as I caught up with Jonathan, like we were old school buddies, reuniting and trying to fit everything in during this time together before we both parted ways again. But the fact was that we weren’t. While there was a certain connectedness to this time, it wasn’t the result of a shared connection growing up, working, or going to school together, but a virtual connectedness, one that began a couple years prior as a result of following each other on Twitter.

Amsterdam canal

It was ingrained in my mind at an early age that life was full of wonder, of which there was an adventure at every turn. I don’t know if my parents saw it as a blessing or disaster that their young son could take a couple blankets, a few chairs, and some PVC pipe and turn their plain, narrow hallway into a mighty fortress where wars were fought and girls had cooties. While the normality of me as a kid may be debatable,there’s no argument that there is a sense of adventure and wonder that finds its way into the hearts and minds of all children, and one that can’t easily be extinguished.

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” -Søren Kierkegaard

At some point in life I came up against this expectation that my innate sense of adventure must be shelved to instead devote my life to societal norms. It’s what we’re supposed to do. This may include, but is not limited to going to college, finding a secure job, seeking a soulmate, building up assets, getting married, having children, and the list could go on. However, that sense of adventure can be reattained after we reach this period of enlightenment in our later years, or what most of the world likes to call retirement. I followed the “rules” and did just that. But I was lost. While doing what I thought everyone else wanted of me, I was sacrificing my happiness and sense of passion and purpose. And it wasn’t until the incident that I realized what had happened. By that time I had brought myself down and everyone around me. And like I would do when I was down to my final life on Super Mario Brothers, I hit the restart button.

“Nothing is insurmountable. You have your whole life in front of you.” It was an invitation to an event in New York City with like-minded travelers and those words from my first Twitter friend, Kara, that set in motion a chain of events that brings me to where I am today. It was at that point that I decided I was going to give myself to a life of travel (Beginning with a nine-month trip around North America that culminated in Costa Rica), making money working in the travel industry, while doing it all through the vehicle of Twitter. When I walked away from my old life, I walked away from everything, which meant I had to make new friends. It would begin with a tweet and before I knew it I would be in a New York City bar with a group of strangers who I only knew through Twitter. Or in other cases, actually traveling with people I met on Twitter, pouring my heart out about life, love, and happiness.

Avia Las Vegas pool

Yes, as a matter of a fact, I am tweeting.

It was only days after leaving Jonathan’s that I was already on the move again, this time back in California with one of my best friends, Matty. As I taught his older daughter a game I made up called “Bippody Boppody Bouncy Biceps (Oh the irony since my biceps are so huge puny),” I picked Matt’s brain about my work challenges over the summer while traveling, but more importantly, love, especially as someone who I admire for his professional and family life. It was then just a couple weeks later that Lindsay, her brother, and I sat on the top of a watchtower above the walls of Girona, Spain, joyfully reflecting on this lifestyle of travel that we had created for ourselves. So what do all of these people have in common, other then their mutual love for travel? I first met all of them on Twitter.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

It was just weeks ago, at the end of my third long-term trip, a three-month trip, that I found myself saying that I was going to slow down a bit. Yet just days later I was already planning my next travel moves. I left it all – friends, family, career, and possessions to travel, and it changed me. It saved my life – and for that reason alone, I can’t afford to not travel, because the person I come back as isn’t the person I leave as. This story, both in this post and on this blog, is about a little boy full of wonder, adventure, and inquisitiveness, who became lost, but through travel was then found, existing now to help others find their way too.

Recommended Reading:

So I Met All My Friends in Paris Via Twitter by @nikkibayley

Friendship in the Time of Twitter by @AliAdventures7

Behind all photos are a story, but what’s unique about all of the photos used in this post is that they all tie back to Twitter, whether at a place recommended by someone on Twitter, hanging out with a friend made through Twitter, or a photo taken by a travel companion found on Twitter. This is my story of how travel and social media has influenced my life. How has it affected your life?