Memories from a year of traveling the world

14 months | 2 hospital visits | 20 countries

A big commitment

Menlo Park, CA

After 20 minutes on the phone over lunch break, my British Airways agent found me the perfect flight. Booked: a one way ticket to Peru. No backing out now, and six short months until I had to be ready to go.

Selling everything

San Francisco, CA

Before leaving, I sold or gave away everything that didn’t fit into my small travel bag. It was extra hard to say goodbye to my baby blue station wagon (the ultimate road trip/bachelor car), my skateboard, and my Vitamix.

Friends in high places

Huacachina, Peru

A few days after starting my trip, I took a bumpy 5-day bus journey across southern Peru. Travel always breeds intimacy, so it's no surprise all our bus companions became fast friends.

It’s all downhill

Outside Cusco, Peru

On my way to Macchu Piccu, I mountain biked down twisting mountain roads to a teeming jungle valley. I was going so fast that all I could thing about was the best way to take the next curve.

Being there

Machu Picchu, Peru

Growing up, I read and reread the encyclopedia entry about Machu Picchu. Mom and Dad taught us a lot about other places, but we couldn't afford to go and see any of them.

Almost twenty years after first reading about it, I woke up on a cold, misty morning before dawn and ran the whole way up the mountain to be the first inside the ancient city.

I won't forget the feeling of those pages coming to life as the mist cleared and the city snapped into focus.

The switch up

Lake Titicaca, Peru

On the mountainous Peru/Bolivia border, my bus was about to leave. I didn’t want to get on it. If I went to Bolivia, I wouldn’t make it to the beach for another month, in Argentina. (Bolivia is landlocked.) But was I really going to change my whole trip just to go to the ocean a bit sooner?

Yep. I took a 20 hour overnight bus heading in the opposite direction, heading Northwest to the ocean. It totally changed my trip.

Big fish, little sis

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Emily, an uncle, and I got on a fishing boat right as the first bits of orange broke on the horizon.

She was telling me about her plans for her last semester in college when she got a big bite on the line.

After an hour of battling, we reeled it in: a 7.5’ (2.3m) Marlin.

Freelancing in paradise

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I’d been doing some UX work for an SF-based startup. Right before we finished the project, I asked the question I always finish projects with: are we proud to launch this?

My colleagues all said yes. That always feels good. But what was new for me: getting there while traveling across 3 countries.

High altitude, high life

Bogotá, Colombia

I landed in Colombia just before midnight. My AirBnB host rolled up to the airport in a BMW convertible with friends in the back—“we’re going to go out—want to come with us?”.

Jamie introduced me to Colombia with gregarious, energetic hospitality and a go-all-night attitude.

Old friends, older whiskey

Edinburgh, Scotland

My good friend Cody and I toured Scotland together.

Even better than seeing the wide valleys and old cities was sharing and shaping life plans with one of my favorite people. 

Home isn't a place, it's people. With the right people, I'm at home anywhere.

Getting lost

Madrid, Spain

Well after midnight, I was wandering the wide squares and twisted streets of Madrid. Earphones in, I listened to a podcast where Chris Sacca (legendary tech investor) talked about how important it is to travel, to get lost, and see the world. 

It made me realize how much I wanted to be exactly where I was.

Local transit

Toledo, Spain

Blablacar is an app that lets you take shared rides with drivers going the same way. I’d join a car, already full with two or three Spaniards, and try to keep up with the conversation. Until I passed out. Even now, cars put me to sleep like nothing else. The countryside would roll by—all olive trees, red roofed houses and grassy mountainsides.

Launching my business

Las Palmas, Spain

I’d been working on my business for two months, first by helping people one-on-one to make sure people needed what I was making. I launched V1 while at a coworking space on the Canary Islands. After sending my site live and posting about it, I came back the next morning to see people using it from over 90 different countries.

Modern classics

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Santiago Calatrava, the architect who made this building, studied civil engineering after architecture.

He believes that knowing what is possible doesn't bind creativity, but unlocks it.

After seeing the sweeping contours of the Auditorio de Tenerife, it is hard to disagree.

Hiking and history

High Tatras, Slovakia

After staying in the Canary Islands, I planned to go to Barcelona.

But plans are made to be unmade: I skipped that plan to go see a friend's home in Slovakia.

Here: a hike we took in the Tatra mountain range. Fun fact: Slovakia has the most castles per-capita in Europe. Now you know.

Island hopping

Hvar, Croatia

Jennie and I wrangled up a crew at our hostel and rented a tiny boat. We puttered out to an empty, remote cove. The beer and the water were both very warm.

A history of violence

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This bobsled track was built for the 1984 Winter Olympics. It winds down a mountain valley towards Sarajevo.

During the Yugoslav wars, Bosnian Serbs surrounded Sarajevo and attacked local civilians. This track was used for artillery installations by the attackers to fire on residents inside the city.

30 days in the life

Tel Aviv, Israel

I wanted to focus on building the design education project I started in Spain.

So I settled into a flat in the center of Tel Aviv and got to work.

It's a work hard, play hard city, and the beach is central to life there. It fit me like a glove.

If you’re going my way

Golan Heights, Israel

I’d never hitch-hiked before. But the fearless German girl in my hostel did it so often that I was embarrassed to not try.

Northeastern Israel has little public transit, so I stuck my thumb out. And got where I needed to go.

Pictured: a bus I managed to catch after hitch-hiking across the countryside.

Brief encounters

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories

While in the West Bank, I took an afternoon stroll to a hammam (turkish style spa). When inside, the other guys there struck up conversations, helped me find my way around, and invited me to their homes to meet their families.
When I left the hammam, sirens were wailing. Kids and teenagers were demonstrating and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. On my way back to my hostel, I saw a kid of about 14, whistling and swinging a slingshot around in wide arcs as he walked home.

Travel-versary

Somewhere over the Indian Ocean

I made it—a year of traveling the world! So many friends, colleagues and family cheered me on along the way. I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

Dive Bums

Straights of Malacca, Thailand

I went with two of my closest friends to some islands in Southern Thailand. The formula was as trite as it was fun: remote islands, diving, beach drinking.

I fondly remember each hangover, each coral cut, each sunburn.

Sharing what I know

General Assembly, Singapore

I’ve shared what I know about design a few times in my round-the-world adventure: in London, Tel Aviv and Singapore. Every time I do, I learn at least as much as I teach.

Home, of all places

San Francisco, CA

I’m grateful for every moment of my travels. My adventure continues back in SF. I'm helping ambitious startups design great things. If you'd like to design digital products that work for your users, get in touch.