Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why We All Need Journeys

Courage comes through achievement but also through the attempt.
—Chris Guillebeau

I began my adult life as a traveler; in many ways, travel has made me who I am today. I think we all could learn to see our lives more as a journey than a destination. We would be better for it.

Road Trip Photo

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn (Creative Commons)

For me, it started with a three-hour trip downstate to go to college. Then a semester in Spain. Then a couple summers in Texas.

After I graduated, I joined a band and traveled for a year: Canada, most of the U.S., and Taiwan (we were BIG in Asia).

Then I moved to Nashville and spent the first few months going on weekend road trips. After that, I would drive 20 minutes downtown to hang out with homeless people. Later, I would lead mission trips overseas once or twice a year.

Wherever I was, I would find a way to embark on some excursion, some mini pilgrimage. Because in the leaving, I found myself. In the going, I learned something about my identity.

Three lessons journeys teach us

  1. Journeys define us. They are important markers of our lives. And they remind us that we are all travelers of some sort.
  2. Journeys reveal our shortcomings. They show us we are not alone in this world. That there are other wanderers out there, in searching of truth and meaning in this great big, confusing universe.
  3. Journeys teach us about life. Richard Rohr said we go on journeys so we never have to go again. I sort of agree. We spend a semester abroad, take a year to backpack Europe, or volunteer with the Peace Corps to remember that life is the grand adventure. Once we learn this, we never stop traveling (even if we never leave home).

A journey is what you make it

It’s a process of leaving and arriving, of losing yourself and finding it again. And if these are our only criteria, anything can be a journey, as long as you are intentional.

Every once in awhile, I have to remind myself that despite a mortgage and steady job and any other semblance of stability, I am still a wanderer. Still a journeyman in search of answers, still a pilgrim in a foreign land.

And every so often, I have to take a trip to remember this. To find. To lose. To become. Last year, it was Ireland with my wife. Before that, Puerto Rico with a good friend. In the near future, it will be somewhere else.

The lesson of all journeys is this: Life is not stable, and we’re not in control. All we can do is enjoy the ride. (Click to tweet.) So how about it?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
—Mark Twain

When was the last time you took a journey? What did you learn? Share in the comments.

Note: If this topic resonates with you, check out Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit (aff. link). It’s a compelling look at why we all need to undertake a quest at some point in our lives. Check it out!

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • My most influential journeys were to Peru and Montana (not in the same trip). Recently the journeys have been closer to home –  in the smoky mountains of North Carolina…and through ultra-running. I simply refuse to live in the grey twilight where one does not enjoy much nor suffer much. 

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • love that, Nick.

      • My girlfriend and I moved out to Wyoming when we graduated and lived the small mountain town lifestyle. We recently moved to Romania, here native country. Traveling abroad is very different than driving out west and you are so true that “life is not stable, and we’re not in control. All we can do is enjoy the ride”. Traveling to me is a push and pull force that pushes us away from our comfort zones and pulls us closer to our purpose in the world. Traveling to Romania is teaching me about my girlfriends background and has brought us closer together. Travel is something you create and never leave behind because everyday is a journey.

    • “I simply refuse to live in the grey twilight where one does not enjoy much nor suffer much. ”  I completely agree with you Nick.  Too many people are so afraid of failing or of pain that they never embark on the journey in the first place.  A journey, whatever it is, can be a lot of work and often requires moving outside of your comfort zone, but it is also what allows you to truly feel alive! 

      • In middle school, before my dad left for a 6 month deployment, my dad gave me a sheet of paper with this quote on it.

        It is far better to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs and to suffer much defeat than to live in the grey twilight where one does not enjoy much nor suffer much.
        -T. Roosevelt

        • I like this too, Nick!  It’s a good reminder that our greatest journey is the heart’s journey.

  • KimberlyCoyle

    I’m an American ex-pat living in Switzerland, so I feel like I’m on a perpetual journey. Often confusing, but always rewarding!

  • I’ve discovered over the years that the joy is found in the journey to the destination.  That’s where we grow.  That’s what shapes us!  One of my favorite quotes from Seth’s new book (and I mentioned today in my post too)  is “To know Jesus, you have to learn how to leave. In the end, the leaving is the finding.”  I LOVE that.  I hope everyone takes advantage of this offer.  Such an important message. 

  • Rebecca Davis

    The journey that made the biggest impact on my life was when I was 10 years old, and my parents moved us to Moldova to be missionaries. I learned that life is not always going to stay the same, they I am truly blessed to be born as an American, not to take for granted the little things, to have compassion for others, and to help those in need. I’ve traveled many different places since that time, but that journey really helped to mold me into the person I am today.

  • Journeys are definitely what we make them. I don’t believe we all have to travel the world to find ourselves. Travel, yes, but perhaps it’s not the mileage that’s important. That’s why I love these lyrics from Andrew Peterson in “World Traveler”:

    “Soon enough I had my wayI saw the world the Lord has madeMostly from the interstate / But I had hardly seen a thing / Until I gave a golden ring / To the one who gave her heart to me

    (And I became) / A world traveler / That’s the day I hit the road / ‘Cause I walked the hills of the human soul / Of a tender girl / I’m a world traveler”

    • love that song.

    • I too love that song but more importantly, I thoroughly echo your thoughts here (both Grayson and Jeff).

      I’ve spent the last five years researching, speaking and writing on this very subject of the intersection of travel and faith and how God uses travel to reveal himself in ways we don’t see at home. One of the questions I always get is this: do I have to travel around the world for a life-changing experience?

      I think that on one hand, the further you get outside your norm and comfort zone, the more open you become to God and change. Usually. But I also have found that our journeys don’t have to be exotic to be meaningful. Place affects us in more ways than we realize and a journey around the corner can, in many cases, be as  transformative as a trip to a foreign land. It comes down to how you do it, how open you are and how much you pay attention (the whole “having eyes to see” idea). 

      I liken it to Ray Bakke’s comment that the difference between ministry and missions is that missions is ministry crossing borders. Those can be national borders but they can be as simple as walking across the street to get to know a neighbor who may seem very unlike you. There’s an element of risk to both, an element of getting outside of ourselves and an element of journey and destination that can transcend mere geography.

  • Reminds me of an Einstein quote: “I love to travel, but hate to arrive.”

    Journeys teach us so much about the world and, moreso, ourselves. I traveled to Nicaragua one year ago – if there’s one way to tackle a man’s hubris it’s to throw him in a country where he barely knows the language and has little to no money!

    Another great post, per usual, Mr. Goins.

    • Hadn’t heard that one before. Awesome. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

  • Shelley

    As the wife of a retired military man, we moved more than the normal person.  Our travels across America and overseas will forever be remembered.  I agree with Eileen that it’s the destination that becomes our challenge.  It’s there where we face new challenges to who we are.  We are proved and made malleable through life’s journeys.  

  • I’m currently on a fairly massive journey. I’m originally from the states, but I’ve been in Europe since May. I had a plane to catch, heading back home, in late July. When the plane left, I just happened to not be on it.

    I still have so much more to learn, but I’ve started to recognize more about who I am, what I care about, and what sort of home I want to build for myself—once I’m ready to settle down and build a home, that is. Most importantly, though, I’m starting to recognize what things actually make me happy and what parts of my life have served as nothing more than emotional dead weight.

    • Rob, I think the point of a journey is that there is always more to see, more to learn, more to experience.

  • Having spent 6 years in the Navy right out of high school, I had my share of journeys and adventures.  But, I also find the journeys that I take in my daily life can often be just as powerful.  Specifically, I learn more about life from others whom I choose to go on journeys with just through  listening to their stories.  

    • agreed. the point of a journey is it teaches you that LIFE is the journey.

  • Clajgray

    My husband and I actually started a journey this past weekend.  What a tremendous blessing it was to not only attend the Quitter Conference, but to experience Nashville.  Not to mention the 26 hours of talk-time we had in the car without the kiddos!  That few days produced such a shift in our lives, it’s hard to imagine!  I can’t wait to see where this new journey takes us!

  • KevinTroupe

    We are currently “on the bus” and four months into the journey of raising now a second child with a genetic disorder called CHARGE Syndrome. To quote you in your book Wrecked, we are in the middle of this: “The process is horrible and ugly and completely gut-wrenching—and at the same time, beautiful”. I wrote a post called “Our Two Special Needs Kids Have Wrecked Our Lives” (https://wp.me/p1mQLK-vk) on my blog Lessons from Matthew (www.lessonsfrommatthew.com). Thanks you Jeff for being able to use your book as another way to explain our journey to others. Being Wrecked is a beautiful thing…if one stops and understands that the journey is more profitable and meaningful than the destination.

  • Jim Muckian

    Thanks for the post, Jeff.  In one month I’m embarking on a new journey myself… I’m leaving my six figure IT job, moving from Seattle to Arizona where I don’t know anyone, and I’m going to test my mettle as a photographer (and maybe a teacher through Teach For America if interviews go well).  I’ve read a lot over the last year that’s gotten me to this point (it can be frightening, after all), including Wrecked, but this sentence from Walden sums it up perfectly, and serves as my guide:

    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

    Here’s to living the journey…

    • Amy

      I send my best, Jim! I moved to Arizona in January from Wisconsin…leaving a life of security to work with a dance teacher. I’ve been here for 9 months and it’s been a crazy but awesome journey. I tend to be a bit literary, but in response to your quote, I wrote this in a reflection after moving down here:

      I wondered that if in order for a person to understand who he was, he would need to remove all excess: leave all his preconceptions, material belongings, and relationships behind…be “bare,” essentially, and live only on what was needed…
      In such a barren place – a desert – he would have available only his own mind and hands. He could see himself as he truly was and eventually find what he truly desired…his oasis.

    • yep. that’s perfect, Jim. leave it to good ol Henry David to say it so concisely.

    •  Wow, Jim! Sounds amazing. Enjoy the ride.

  • Katharine Trauger

    I never went anywhere except the Great Lakes, until I married; just lived around Kansas City all my childhood! However, marriage to a proactive guy during Nam made for plenty of excitement, moves, etc.
    We’ve moved 15 times in 42 years, learning new people groups and cultures at every stop.
    We’ve also taken trips, realizing the importance, somehow, in the backs of our minds. We could not afford to go far, geographically, but did take our kids on real trips, historically, back in time. An orphanage just over the Rio Grande with broken glass barrier atop its walls, a rockslide in Canada that reduced the Interstate traffic to 20mph, Antebellum homes, all the history in D.C., a Civil War capitol down the road from us, huge caves, working grist mills, sand dunes on islands below Texas that probably do not exist anymore, huge and beautiful gardens and greenhouses that were built eons ago, real cowboys stopping traffic to herd real cattle across the highway just like in the movies, the Salt Flats, hour-long ferry rides, Old Faithful, Mt. Rushmore, and more — these were the delights we experienced as we introduced our kids to ideas beyond the farm, the farm we kept on purpose to make sure they got that trip, too.
    Then, as homeschooling parents, we provided their senior trips to places like Romania and Belize, in addition to field trips to museums when treasures such as the Medici tour came to us. Thankful we are.
    Always, we told our children before they left: If you have a chance, share something of yours with those you meet. It goes both ways. And they did share. And they still do. One son has friend in Belize he visits every time he has a new child to introduce to their family. And a musical young man in Romania enjoys a classical music CD my daughter left him.
    It is a small world but the commute is a doozie.

  • Could not agree more. I spent 10 days in Poland, two days in Prague, and 2 and a half months in Israel. To say it was an eye opening trip would be an understatement. It really opened my eyes up to the world and made me want to travel everywhere. I learned so much about the lifestyle of other nations. I had grown so accustomed to thinking there was only one way of life here in the US. I really admire the lifestyle of those overseas and would like to live there some day. 

  • Thank you for the reminder.  Lately I have been viewing my recent experiences as an “EPIC FAIL” rather than just a waystation on a greater “journey.”  It is hard when you pursue a dream for almost two decades to realize that maybe that dream wasn’t meant for you.  It hurts.  A lot.  I’ve been thinking lately what I really need is a change of perspective; viewing this as a change in direction on a long journey actually frees me up to see the landscape.  It’s as if I am standing on top of a mountain and realize that previously I had been nose-to-the-ground pursuing the wrong path.  The irony is that it took me to moving literally on top of a mountain to figure that out 😉  Thanks!

    • at least you figured it out, Heather. most people don’t.

  • JulieGubler

    I always thought of journeys as trips. How wrong I was. They’re episodes in life that teach you

    Last week we had an “at home” journey when our neighborhood was flooded. Our home wasn’t affected, but it was awe-inspiring that over a 5-day period more than 1,000 people each day showed up to help. 

    When a group of people come together to do good, they work miracles. Journeys teach us truths like this. 

  •  I did some local and one continental travel back home (kenya) but my latest is a  8000 miles move  to US.  I totally agree with your three points.

  • Before I got married and had children, I lived and worked in Korea, Micronesia, and Mongolia. I enjoyed the steep learning curve that comes with figuring out how do life in a different land, surrounded by people who spoke a different tongue, ate different food and looked at the world through differrent lenses. I was reminded how, deep down, we really do have a lot in common. I learned how narrow my own views had been. I discovered that the journey really is the destination.
    Our last journey was to the woods. It was our first time camping with our little boys. We learned a lot from that as well: https://1stteacher.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/lessoned-learned-from-camping-with-kids/

  • Love reading everybody else’s journey stories! I recently returned from Australia and Iceland with my hubby–I learned to take airlines up on those free-vouchers-if-you-give-up-your-seat-for-a-later-flight offer. These two trips barely cost us anything! And we had so much fun!

    • agreed, fascinating stuff here. thanks for sharing, Margaret! i’m honored that you read my blog.

  • Our family went on a 3 week road trip across the U.S. this past summer. It was our third time doing this. Each time, I love seeing more of our country. I love the experiences and bonding we share as a family.
    I am one who thrives on safety and stability. So I like what you said about “life is not stable.” For God is constantly showing me that even though I fight against it. 🙂

  • It often feels like I am on a lifelong journey, even though I have almost never moved from where I live. It’s strange though, because most often these are journeys I would rather not take, but must.

  • I don’t know if it can be called a journey, but last summer we took the kids to visit my extended family on the East Coast and took a special day trip to NYC w/ our oldest. I’m fascinated by bustling cities and it was fun to travel together.

    • anytime you move and are changed, it’s a journey.

  • Before this year it was a long time before I had travelled. This year I started really chasing my dreams and started public speaking. I have spoken at 9 events, 8 in different states and 1 in Sydney, Australia. I have racked up 47, 368 frequent flyer miles since June of this year.

    I have three more speaking events this year: Oahu Hawaii, Manila Philippines, and Nairobi Kenya 🙂 I wrote a post Monday and have one Friday about the things I’ve observed with all the travel.

    I have learned so much about how others live in other parts of the country and was blown away by Australia, I was “wrecked”. I look forward to getting back to Africa, I know I’ll be wrecked in life changing ways. Travel really does open your eyes!

    • man, you’ve been all over the place this year!

      • This year has been a dream come true Jeff. I now truly believe anyone can live out their dreams!

    • When I grow up, I want to be like you, Kimanzi 🙂

  • Such inspiring stuff! I journeyed not too far to Washington, DC, recently. And there is always something to learn. One thing is for sure, DC is a city alive with activity and people all day and night. The illuminated monuments at night are a sight to behold. My all-time favorite journey was our 40 Day and 40 Night Cross Country trip in a mini-van with three of our daughters, at the time ages 13, 11, and 7. It was unforgettable. I prayed for a spiritual journey for our family and it was. Just seeing the Grand Canyon brought me to tears as I experienced God’s splendor. So many moments of awe and thanksgiving!!!

  • Joshua Lawson

    I think it’s worthwhile to point out that not everyone enjoys the privilege of being able to take a lot of journeys in life. I’m sure you’re aware of this yourself, Jeff, but I know most of the people in my life don’t have the financial wherewithal to go “find” themselves on a weekend jaunt to the city let alone take trips across country and overseas.

    What is your advice to people who can’t afford to travel in the ways you’ve highlighted in this post?

  • Jeff, I live 9 miles from Cades Cove.  I’m going to go there Sunday.  It’s a journey to the past and tranquility.

  • This summer I spent 10 days in Peru hiking in the Andes Mountains and delivering translated Bibles to the native Quechua people there. It was a physically demanding trip; we hiked at elevations of 10,000 feet and higher. It was mountain climbing! But, the joy of seeing people receive a Bible for the first time in their own language made it worth all the pain. They were genuinely thrilled to receive such a gift. Some of the people walked for over two hours each way just to hear our message and get a Bible. I have never been more humbled in my life. Now I have a passion for Peru and for the people there. I can’t wait to go back.

  • This summer I journeyed to Guatemala for 9 days.  The journey of preparing for the trip and actually going on the trip has taught me so much about taking leaps of faith.  I have been blogging about this trip and about all that I learned through this journey.  These types of journeys are so important!

  • Nancy

    Thank you for this great post and wonderful reminder that life itself is the journey and you don’t have to be in a completely foreign or new place to experience it (although that is a perk sometimes!). I’m currently in Australia with a working holiday visa and lately, I was feeling a bit lost and homesick, but your post reminded me that this is all part of the process of learning about myself. 

    Random coincidence – the Mark Twain quote you posted is the exact same quote my former boss wrote on my farewell card when I quit my job to embark on this journey! 

  • Last night I found myself towards to back of the room during a John Mark Mcmillan show. As he lead the crowd in his modern worship classic How He Loves, everyone in the room lifted up their voice drowning out his. The crowd grew louder than the speakers, than the instruments, filling the room. My thoughts suddenly transported me back in time to a journey I took to Russia. 

    We were supporting a local church as they had invited an entire urban high school out to a week long nature retreat just outside Moscow. As a condition of our visas we were not allowed to evangelize, but rather our goal was to help foster relationships between these kids and the local church. Playing the long game.

    Before most of the kids would be awake the Americans and the members of the local Russian church would meet and have a bilingual meeting to prepare ourselves for the day. One morning the worship started. Old classics. Songs everyone know. We all sang.  As one. In different languages. Russian voices and American voices lifted up, mixing in the air, filling the room, spilling out of windows and cracks in the wall, rising up to Heaven. 

    That is a experience that if I had missed, I would be less. That was a journey I’m glad I took.

  • Wow..I love this…”It’s a process of leaving and arriving, of losing yourself and finding it again. And if these are our only criteria,anything can be a journey — as long as you are intentional.” The past 9 years I have been on a journey of finding why I’m sick all the time…9 months ago I finally found my answer…Lyme Disease…now I’ve been on treatment and let me tell you, its been a journey for sure! Although this is such a terrible disease, I have been blessed by it too. The past 9 months I have found myself…I’ve grown closer to God and even though I don’t feel physically good, I feel mentally great! I definitely agree that journeys help us. Thanks for sharing! Be blessed 🙂 ~ Chelsea http://www.fromchrysalistobutterfly.blogspot.com

  • Jeff, I definitely have a journeymen’s heart. I love adventure – seeing new things, learning, absorbing, changing my perspective. Now that I have four daughters, a hubby and the full life of a speaker and writer, I find adventure in life’s little pleasures – the depths of my girls’ hearts, the mystery of walking with God and the intimacy of marriage. It’s amazing how even the ordinary can be an adventure when we invite God’s presence into our everyday lives.

  • I think this post is great Jeff. I would love to road trip with just me and my friends one day. Not to go anywhere specific but just to explore the country and spend time together not worrying about time, responsibilities but  to be in the moment.  kind of like a vacation.

  • Amanda@Runninghood

    Ahh, love this.  We are about to move to Asheville, NC from Portland, OR…just for an adventure…a travel opportunity….a journey.  With all three of our kids.  Scary and exciting all at once.  

    • What an awesome place! Big fan of Asheville. We honeymooned there. 🙂

  • Lauren

    Hi Jeff,

    I just discovered your blog today, when I google searched the phrase “every great writer.” I’m on my journey now – I quit my job in September and have been traveling through Europe since. I’ve always had the dream of living in Spain and being a writer… so here I am, in Barcelona, one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to… and I’m, well, trying to write. No, scratch that, I am writing… but haven’t found the inspirational calling quite yet. For now, I am just writing about the journey — what lead me here, the people I’ve met, the culture shocks and unexpected encounters. In addition to “trying to write” I am doing that quater-life-crisis, soul-searching, figuring-out-my-next-move thing. 

    Admittedly, I’ve been spending more time locked up in my apartment then out in this awesome city actually living and giving me something to write about – pretty sure you’ve got a blog about this topic exactly. So okay, I’m putting the computer away now to do just that… thanks for the inspiration.


    PS- What have I learned on my journey thus far? That the days I let myself live fully in the moment have been some of the most liberating in my life, allowing for chance adventures and personal revelations to take place.

  • nx8

    “Why We All Need Journeys”, a question, a great article. The journey is something that every human being we all need to have and need to undergo. Thank you for bringing this to our readers.

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  • RStew

    Hi Jeff, thanks for this article, I think it’s very interesting and I certainly have enjoyed the travel I have done. However, I do also think that some people are called not to travel but to stay at home – my husband and I have felt this strongly over our first few years of marriage. Many of our friends have travelled, moved away, come back … and we have been here, being steady, consistent and homely! For all those who travel, there also need to be those who stay home, who can provide consistency, security and a home for the travellers to come back to. I know you are talking about the journey of life in a wider sense, and we certainly still have our travels even from our little house! But I just wanted to mention that travelling isn’t for everyone and that staying still also has a role to play – we can find ourselves in the quiet of home routine.

    • I think you’re right. Sometimes staying is the braver thing to do.

  • Love that quote by MarkTwain, Jeff. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think I’ll be sharing that one with others!

  • Kathy Mercure

    Your post comes at a good time for me as a writer. 20 years ago I did my first vision quest to the desert of the southwestern US and decided that it was time to be a writer for real. This December I will go back again on a vision quest for my business. There is a book in me that wants to come out, and the full circle of the desert is the key to finding it.

  • We went to Uganda in July. It was a beautiful reminder of how connected we are to the world, with all of its complexities and problems and joys.

    • I had a similar experience when I was there in January.

  • Julie Green

    Took a trip to California in June. Made no reservations, just left. All I knew was I wanted to walk the beach and write. I thought was going for one night, maybe two. Ended up staying four days! The ocean makes me feel small in all the wonders of this earth. It puts life in perspective for me. This perspective helps me write.

  • Knox Zine

    Last journey I took was trying to make a short documentary for a state park. After 6 months of pre-production, dirty tricks were played on us during the first day of filming. We had no choice but to withdraw from this project, or continue to experience sabotage. I used colorful language when the deal went down. I was aware of what I was saying, and I didn’t care, and I have no regrets! I also don’t regret the 6 months of work. I enjoyed learning the history and brainstorming for ways to tell this story. We have since moved on. Someday this will be funny.

  • Jeff Spence

    I have always been a traveler, and in recent years have wondered if wanderlust is residual damage from a childhood of being shifted around from one home or relative to another. I still have not decided on a healthy balance. Intentional travel, however, has made me very much who I am. I cannot imagine a life without it.

    • You know, Jeff, I wonder that too. For the first several years of my life, my parents moved every couple year. I am grateful, however, that they eventually settled in one place for over a decade. I agree that intentional travel is important; much better than just drifting from one place to the next.

      • Jeff Spence

        We just finished 2 years in Oxford, UK, where I was doing some post-grad study. I felt quite at home and we are thinking of heading back there permanently. It was great writing in a place that Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lewis Carrol, etc sat and wrote as well… Sometimes in the very seat! Quite inspiring.

  • My wife and I took a three week road trip last month, visiting 12 states and places I had never been. We met fascinating people off the beaten path. Ate unusual food. It was humid and hot just about everywhere, but that was part of the adventure too. Anderson Cooper, in one of his books, noted that sometimes there are struggles when we travel (missed planes, stolen wallet, etc.) But the struggles strengthen and enrich us too.

  • My husband, two boys and I take a journey together at least yearly. We love road trips to our vacations because we get a lot of time to connect and joke and bond without distractions. We are always reminded of what it means to be a family, how to encourage one another, and how to appreciate each other’s quirks. My husband and I focus on making memories with our kids during these times, and we know they will remember these journeys in significant ways later in life.

    • Road trips are awesome, Kari! I grew up going on them.

  • Kate Robertson

    I took a solo journey to Ireland in June. It was about following in the places my immigrant Grandparents went. I found new relatives and saw where they had lived. All that was wonderful but I also found the that on the journey, being alone to be extremely challenging. I had a lot of growth on the trip. It changed me in a lot of ways.

    • I LOVED Ireland when I visited with my wife and in-laws. Amazing place.

  • The last few years we took trips to Burma/Myanmar, Canada several times, Italy, twice Portugal, twice Austria, several times Germany. Most of those were leisure, but Canada usually was about visiting doctors and lawyers because of the accident of my son. I am looking forward to visit Canada again just because. But for a while I have been reluctant of travelling, I had enough spending all my vacations in waiting rooms and meetings and planes.

    But through all this, I have found that even those trips had me mature and grow closer to God. Let’s call it life.

    • Sorry to hear about your son, Ralph. I can understand why you have been reluctant of travel. I am grateful for your sharing.

  • Hitchhikers have plenty of stories to tell. They make the journey, one step at a time. Those on the bus just sit down, fall asleep and get off when the bus stops.

    I would rather be a hitchhiker…

    • Well said, Dwayne. I like that a lot.

  • Tom Bentley

    Jeff, so true that travel opens you up to new experiences, and new experiences of yourself. The old habits don’t work when traveling, and that’s a good thing. And particularly for writers, travel is great, because it stimulates all the senses and puts you on alert—things that help with setting scenes, seeing how people act and speak in different situations, seeing your own needs challenged, so you can work with conflict in your stories.

    And if you are able to write on the road (and at least make expenses), you can house-sit all over the world. In the last couple of years I’ve spent a couple of months in the Bahamas, one in Panama and just came back from 3 weeks in San Miguel de Allende, all house-sits where I was able to work too, because of the graces of the Internet. Thanks for a nice piece.

  • Leanne Dyck

    Like yourself Jeff, I view everyday as a journey–even though I never leave home. So, to answer, the last time I went on a journey when was I woke up this morning.

  • Barbara Frandsen

    I just started a new kind of journey and am certain this experience will provide lessons. Coming down the stairs, my knee collapsed and I broke my ankle in two places. Everything hurts and I feel like a truck ran over me. No walking, no driving, no working in the yard. So, what can I learn from this? I’m asking ~ searching. By the way, I’m 74 years young.

    • Wow, Barbara. I’m so sorry to hear that. And I’m not sure what you will learn, but I look forward to hearing from you as you heal. I pray for a fast recovery!

  • Elizabeth

    My last journey was a solo trip to Lebanon in the summer. I learned so much about relying on the Lord alone and trusting Him with everything. It was a stretching experience but it was also exciting! I loved meeting and talking with Christians there. Being able to pray for brothers and sisters in Christ that I have met, is more meaningful than praying for “strangers.”

    I think everyone should travel internationally at least once in their life. You get a whole new perspective on life!

  • St. Augustine said, “The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.” Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • One of my favorite quotes, Paul. 🙂

  • Dan Erickson

    Journeys make us better writers!

  • Journeys are the pinnacle of every well-lived life, but what struck me as ironic is not something you wrote related to journeys…but that you are and your wife were in Ireland this year and Puerto Rico last year. My husband and I made two trips that included Ireland this year and Puerto Rico last year. Some journeys are made at different times but to the same locations and that somehow connected the paths we have each taken.

  • TheCollegeCosmopolitan

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff! I love this perspective, and I try to apply it to my life. My last journey was a weekend out west in Utah, and before that I spent five weeks in Europe. Each trip is life changing. I blog about them at TheCollegeCosmopolitan.com! Thanks again for sharing.

  • Your post intrigued me! My journey was a 20th anniversary trip with my
    husband by car from Kansas to North Carolina. Two lessons – we made the
    decision to travel the ‘blue highways’ when constant construction
    slowdowns were encountered. Did you know there’s a bayou in Northern
    Arkansas?? Would have missed it on the interstate. Also, we had such a
    sense that life is fragile (and God is sovereign) after coming upon two
    fatal accidents just after they occurred. Much to digest enroute and at

  • Jo Anne Kurman

    Thanks, Jeff, for this great reminder. I am 64, still young enough to explore and go! A journey may also be something on one’s bucket list. A dear friend of mine who died in her mid 80s said to me on her death bed that she regretted not “going for it” in life. We all thought she did. She inspired many, but what mattered is what she felt. I thought of her words when I read your post today. Get up. Go. Do. Go!

  • Thanks Jeff for your perspective on journeys.

    Your story reminded me of a passage in the book “A River Runs Through It And Other Stories” by Norman MacLean. Growing up in Western Montana, his father told him often that “the world is full of bastards, the number increasing the farther you get from Missoula, Montana.” Similarly, my family and church community believed that our small section of the world was perfect, and there was no need to venture out into the unknown. But it wasn’t until I challenged their beliefs and visited Canada and 30-something states that the world was a lot bigger than the perspectives of my family and community.

    Whenever my world becomes smaller for some reason, I’ll take day or weekend trips outside my hometown and talk with people I don’t know. It’s amazing how getting away from the familiar increases my perspective. And it fuels my writing.

    • Love that, Steve. It truly is amazing. I’ve experienced the same thing.

  • Clark Gaither

    This past Thanksgiving I went hiking solo on La Gomera, Spain. It is the second smallest of the Canary Islands. It is crisscrossed by very old paths that connect different parts of the island to one another. There is a central peak on the island, Garojonay, at 4,879 ft. I would send my bag ahead of me by cab and hike to my next nights stay. Over the week I hiked somewhere between 45 and 50 miles, gained and lost 18,000 feet in altitude. The scenery was breathtaking! It was the best vacation I have ever taken.
    On that trip I learned that it is okay to be alone, I am capable of doing more than I think I am capable of doing, and the best vacations are the simplest and least expensive. In two weeks I’ll be hiking the red rock canyons of Sedona, Arizona.

    • Wow! What a trip. I’m inspired to go myself. Thanks for sharing Clark!

  • Lucas Boulderguard

    At a time in my life when I was sure what I wanted to do, I got on a plane. I chose Paris, only because it was a large European city–easy to get a flight. I actually got lost in France for a while on my way to Pamplona, Spain. I should mention that I didn’t speak a word of French, which wasn’t a problem in Paris, but I found myself in a quaint French town, where no one spoke English. I found one guy who spoke “a little bit of Spanish” and I spoke Spanish well enough to across that I was lost. He took me to a lady at the train station. She said that she didn’t speak English, but proceeded to talk to me for next 30 minutes in English. She helped me book a train for Spain. When I got to Pamplona, the bulls were running, and I saw an Irishman nearly killed. I spent a few days in Pamplona, before I started El Camino de Santiago. I spent the next five weeks hiking to the Cathedral of St. James. While I was hiking, someone let on that the St. James day was approaching, and there was this huge deal in Santiago. I picked up my pace a little and arrived in Santiago on St. James Day. From there, I went to Finistere, then Madrid, and then I caught the plane to London, where I spent the rest of the summer. I learned a lot about myself that summer. Things I never knew.

  • Thanks for mentioning the Peace Corps, Jeff. I served in Sri Lanka as a teacher of English as a foreign language and it was one of the defining moments of my life. Sixteen years later, I’m still involved with the Peace Corps in different ways. Anyone who experiences that kind of intense journey is changed forever, and returned Peace Corps volunteers tend to stick together, in one form or another, for the rest of their lives.

    • Amazing, Joe! Keep up the great work.

  • I was literally just discussing this with a friend earlier today. Last October I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney from the UK to begin a life of indefinite travels and, after 15 years of depression, try and find peace and contentment. Five months later, after an awful time in the city, I was flying home as an emergency to be diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease which pulled the rug from underneath me. But you know what? I’m currently back in Australia and whilst it’s been an horrific year so far, I’m determined to try again and live the life I want and deserve.
    It’s not easy when nothing seems to be working out and you’re on the other side of the world by yourself but wow, what a journey it has been and it has taught me things about myself I never knew. So whilst I may not be thankful for the journey itself (or the illness I am left with), I am thankful for the lessons and the new and determined strength to begin again despite what life has dealt me so far.

    Thank you for writing this article Jeff and affirming that I’m doing the right thing!

    • You’re welcome, Toni! Sorry to hear about the tough year you’ve had. Hang in there.

  • sal

    I love how when you go on a journey you come to pass other people on their journey and you realise life’s a bigger story than the the solitary one you knew of before you embarked on a journey of discovery. Thanks for opening our eyes Jeff 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Sal! I love that, too.

  • Micki

    Jeff, great points in this article. My husband and I were just talking last night, and, while we take vacations, we tend toward the familiar, not the adventurous. We are getting ready, though, to embark on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, and I am excited to go to new territory and explore a totally unfamiliar place. We did that in New Orleans last winter, and had a blast! My adventure to come!

    • Very cool, Micki. That’s a beautiful area of the country!

      • Micki

        Yes, we are loving the pictures and can’t wait to see it for real. At least one new adventure a year, that’s my new mantra!

  • I just back from traveling and couldn’t figure out all the emotions and thoughts that I had when I got back. This post helped as I realize it took me away from my normal box and gave me a new perspective. Loved this a lot. Thanks for posting.

  • Love the Mark Twain quote. So true.

  • Carol

    After years of shorter trips (always refreshing and instructive), I’m climbing in the car next week with my college age daughters and heading across the US with Prince Edward Island, Canada as our turn around spot. Mark Twain’s Hannibal is one of our stops. Thanks for the quote. I will share it with the girls as we leave the driveway heading east! By the way, Chris’ book is traveling with us. You are a talented and insightful young man.

  • Took a trip to a local women’s center three weeks ago. I find that in all traveling I’ve done, people have the same needs: to know someone cares about them. This is true whether in my own town or in Brazil where I traveled over 30 years ago.

    • I would love to go to Brazil, Polly. Thanks for sharing!

  • mgmichlein

    At 70, I just enrolled in two 3-credit courses (Creative Writing & Literary Magazines) at a nearby university campus. I engage new people and experiences every chance I get. After stemming from Connecticut, living in Iceland and Europe for six years, I found Wisconsin (since 1974) changed the dynamics of my life in positive ways. Married with two sons, I drive a WRX, ride a GoldWing, paddle a canoe, and ride mountain bike on a new trail each time I head out. At the end of September we (my artist wife and I) are taking a creative retreat on the North Shore of Lake Superior (east of Duluth) where we will also celebrate 40 years of marriage. If you see me along the way, let’s tarry a bit with one another and share what we have to offer. I don’t want to live forever – just want to be moving when I go down.

  • Some years ago, I spent six months camping alone in the Australian outback. Two weeks before I boarded the plane, I had a vision of my own corpse lying beneath a lone tree in the red desert.
    I went anyway. I had to. The life I had been leading was killing me. I was working a corporate job I hated, had been bucking for a promotion for over a year to no avail, and wasn’t pursuing my true place in the world. I knew that even if I died in the outback, I would have done something meaningful in those last short months.
    After purchasing a twenty-year-old Ford sedan, I set off. For months I traveled territory so rough I had to drive down the middle of the two lane road. I chewed through five tires, carried spare gasoline, and stored a two-week supply of food and water in the trunk. Every night I pulled off into some lonely patch of desert, cooked over an open fire, and slept under the stars.
    One day I was traveling on a raised roadbed. There are no speed limits on the outback roads and was doing about 75. One of the tires blew. The car was thrown off the raised road and literally bounced into the desert. I could not steer or brake. As I waited for the car to slow itself down, a single tree blocked my path. It was that same tree I’d seen in my vision.
    I sank into the seat. I can still feel the metal springs in the seat cushion as the car bounced again. I sank down, knowing the seatbelt would not protect me.
    Then I straightened up. I decided that this was not what I wanted. I looked at the roadway. It was further away than the tree. Yet the moment I thought, That’s where I want to be, the car was back on the road.
    The entire experience in the outback changed me forever. Shortly after returning to the US, I left that deadly corporate job and began my career as an author. I learned that I should always make choices based on what’s best for myself. I know that I have the power to survive anything…anything.

  • Cheryl Steiner

    I have just returned from a cross country trip for a wedding and my take away is a renewed hope for my future. I can embrace my present knowing the best is yet to come. I’ve heard it said several times before but now I can believe it because I have seen it. Our best years, our best work, and the best times of our lives are yet to come. It’s never too late.

    Just before my mom’s eightieth birthday she became engaged. Her fiancé is a wonderful man who thinks of her as a treasure to be cherished and she is blossoming into the woman I believe she was created to become. I have never seen her so happy and vibrant. She glows with joy and passion.

  • My life has been a series of journeys as well. College was a six hour drive, a perfect distance to have to come home only so often. Almost all of my adult jobs have been away from my home town and I’ve moved several times with my current employer.

    Sometimes I saw moving as a way to escape and start over. “Just you wait and see, things will be different here.” The reality is it’s hard to break old habits just by changing the scenery. When I’ve gotten to a new place, feeling uncomfortable and surrounded by unfamiliar things, I’ve leaned on those old habits as a way to meet my need for security.

    My travels have shown me a lot of America, though. I’ve seen the differences between the East, the Midwest and the Southwest. I’ve made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime and I’ve learned what the meaning of home truly is.

    When I regret some of the journeys I’ve taken, I stop and remember that those journeys have shaped who I am today. Something would be missing without them.