CORPORATE RUNAWAY. WORLD WANDERER. COFFEE DRINKER.

The best year of my life

Dave and Lauren in Bali

366 days.  I can’t believe it has been that long.

One year ago today I flew out of Melbourne.  My relationship with the corporate world, rocky at the best of times, was over.  No more suits.  No more meetings.  No more corporate bullshit, and no more steady paycheck.

I landed in Thailand.  I got very drunk.  And then I took a long, deep breath and started living.

I had wanted to return to South East Asia from the minute I left it.  I had wanted to be my own boss for at least a decade.  I had wanted to be a writer since high school, and to travel since I first saw a plane.

Now I had the chance to do everything I had dreamed of.  All I needed to do was make it work.

Sink or swim, Dave. Sink or swim.

So far, I’m swimming.  Sometimes gracefully, sometimes flailing around like a drowning rat, but my head is still above the water.

Dave in the sea at Koh Phi Phi

I’ve launched another website, which is going even better than expected.  I’ve pitched, hustled and networked like my life depended on it – because, in some ways, it does.  I’ve woken up early and gone to bed late, pulling eighteen hour days and turning down invitations, just to get things done.

Glamorous?  No.  Necessary?  Yes.  Awesome?  Absolutely, because I’m building my perfect life.

That shit doesn’t come for free.

As my relationship with the cubicle was ending, though, another one was beginning.  A much better, far less expected one.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone that lives on social media, it started with a single tweet just before I left Australia.  Little did I know that those 38 characters would define the shape of my life for the next twelve months.  Tweets turned into instant messaging.  With the remains of my apartment strewn around me, I sat on the floor while we talked about nothing – and everything – for hours.

Eight days after I arrived in Chiang Mai, Lauren did too.  We met at the airport.  Our anniversary is next Friday.

We have spent nearly every minute of the last year together, and somehow it still works.  Seventeen countries, fifteen train rides, eleven flights and more lumpy beds and cold showers than I care to remember.

Dave and Lauren in Koh Chang

It hasn’t always been easy.  We’ve argued in Austria, bickered in Bali, clashed in Croatia … and that’s just the start of the alphabet.  Travel can be tough sometimes.

When we’re lugging our backpacks up another hill in the midday sun and realise we’re lost yet again, I suspect we both want to push each other under the nearest bus and just keep walking.  Ten minutes later though, when we’re checked into our hostel and have a cold beer in hand, all is forgiven.

Of course, for every hard time, there are hundreds of great ones.  We have an incredible, wonderful life together, where we get to wake up beside the Mediterranean one month and the Indian Ocean the next.  We’ve seen more breathtaking sunsets in the last year than we can count, and spent time with beautiful people that expand our minds and horizons every time we talk.

I’ve been to places this year that I never thought I would see, done things I never thought I would do.  I’ve eaten home cooked pasta overlooking Lake Como, tapas in La Coruna and crickets in Chiang Mai.  I’ve ridden a scooter around northern Thailand and sailed a yacht around southern Turkey.

I’ve visited countries torn apart by war, and areas of incredible natural beauty.  I found a temporary home, and many other places that could be.  Even though I work harder and longer than I ever have before, my choices and my time are my own.  This never seems like a job.  I get paid to do what I love, with someone I love, where I love to do it.

I guess this is what freedom feels like.

Otres beach sunset

I was talking to my Dad yesterday, and mentioned that I had been on the road for nearly twelve months.

“Would you say this has been the best year of your life?” he asked.

Yes, Dad.

Yes it has.

87 Comments

  1. Reply

    cody

    November 8, 2012

    So cool man! I cant wait to be on the road again. Maybe my GF and I can meet up with you guys. I just bought a bar on koh samui!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Awesome! Which part of the island?

  2. Reply

    D.J. - The World of Deej

    November 8, 2012

    Here's hoping the next one is even better!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      It's a hard act to follow, but I'm seriously hoping it will be :)

  3. Reply

    Stephanie

    November 8, 2012

    Such a sweet story, inspirational too! Amazing things can happen when you let life take you where it wants to take you!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Yeah,I think that's the secret - so many of us spend much of our time fighting the direction that life is trying to pull us. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, just go with the flow (man)... ;-)

  4. Reply

    Gillian @OneGiantStep

    November 8, 2012

    Made me teary eyed Dave. Congratulations to one year on the road, and one year with Lauren. I am right on your heels - thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Awww, thanks my dear! See you somewhere out there soon!

  5. Reply

    Wes Nations

    November 8, 2012

    'Grats to you both :)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Thank you my Poker 21-flavoured friend! Now let's see if we can actually manage to meet up again in 2013.....

  6. Reply

    Erica Forehand

    November 8, 2012

    Love this post! Congrats to you both :)
    I look forward to reading the next year of adventures.

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Thanks Erica! There are hopefully gonna be a lot of them ... starting with Lauren trying to cross the road in Saigon next month. I'll try to take video...

  7. Reply

    Nigel D

    November 8, 2012

    At the end of the day satisfaction with the life you are leading is what counts. I saw you floundering in the corporate world - making a mint and hating it. A leap in the dark it was, but it sure seems to be the best thing you have done!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      And thanks for the support, Dad :)

  8. Reply

    kim

    November 8, 2012

    Congrats to you and your wonderful year. I wish you many more to come. I laugh at your description of traveling with someone you love- isn't it so true that things get ugly on the road but once you're settled into a hostel with a cold beer in hand all is forgiven. What a life :)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Not that I'd ever be one to say that alcohol is a great way to solve a disagreement ... but ... sometimes ... ;-)

  9. Reply

    Drew Meyers

    November 8, 2012

    You gotta love stories like this. Ain't the perfect life grand? :)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Well you know I'm not going to complain about it! When will we catch up with you again, Mr Myers?

  10. Reply

    So glad to hear that 2012 has been as incredible for you as it has been for me :) All the best to you and Lauren!

  11. Reply

    Michelle F

    November 8, 2012

    Happy one year on the road Dave!! While us here in the corporate cubicle miss you, I'm so glad its been the best year of your life (I have a feeling that, its just the start!) Thank you for keeping me entertained with your stories and hopefully we will catching up when you in Melbourne at Xmas.

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      I miss you guys too - you were the only thing that kept me sane(ish) last year! We'll definitely catch up at Xmas :)

  12. Reply

    Jodie

    November 8, 2012

    Nice one Disco! Really looking forward to catching up next month x

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      See you soon Jojo!

  13. Reply

    Lauren

    November 8, 2012

    I'm happy you're happy. And I'm happy that I'm basically the reason why.

    So, I guess, really, I'm happy I'm amazing.

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      *quickly edits post*

  14. Reply

    Mariza

    November 8, 2012

    I love the part where you say:
    " Even though I work harder and longer than I ever have before, my choices and my time are my own. This never seems like a job. I get paid to do what I love, with someone I love, where I love to do it.

    I guess this is what freedom feels like."

    This is so TRUE!!! I'm not there yet. but i'm heading that way! :D

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Good luck! It's a hard slog, but so, so worth it :)

  15. Reply

    Lynne OHalloran

    November 8, 2012

    Mmmmmm was starting to get a bit choked up for a minute, must be cause I haven't had my coffee yet. But seriously, a huge congrats on the best year of your life so far. Your blog is fab reading, your girlfriend so crazy funny and your travel plans so cool .... I can only assume that the next year will be even better still.

    And let's hope our paths finally cross soon

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Awww, thanks Lynne (from both of us!). Let's hope we can catch up soon hey?

  16. Reply

    Turkey's For Life

    November 8, 2012

    Awwww, lovely post and here's to your next year...and the year after and the year after of doing what YOU want to do. Great feeling isn't it? :)
    Julia

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Best in the world, I reckon...

  17. Reply

    George

    November 8, 2012

    sooo cute! travel aaand a new gf what a journey, loving laurens comment also kudos girl!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Trust me, she's usually even more of a smartass than that... ;-)

  18. Reply

    Micamyx|Senyorita

    November 8, 2012

    Awww so sweet! I am a fan of Lauren's blog and I am wishing you both more happiness and travels... and money lol :D

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      Yup, more of all three of those things would be fantastic! ;-)

  19. Reply

    Chris

    November 8, 2012

    Living the dream bro, living the dream!

    Here's to the next 12months - *cheers*

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      *lifts glass* *drinks heavily*

  20. Reply

    ConfusedJulia

    November 8, 2012

    Can we all say "Awwwww"? Very cool post, mainly because I can identify with pretty much all of it (I've been on the road for 9 months now and Scott and I have known each other for 2 years in Feb!) So happy for you both and I hope everything is just onwards and upwards from here!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 8, 2012

      It will be if I have any say in the matter! So glad we could meet up in Budapest - thanks for the ruin bar tour (of one bar)! :)

  21. Reply

    Mary

    November 8, 2012

    This post just made me smile the whole time I was reading it! It is so wonderful to live your life just for you and those you lov e, it is perhaps the best part of this lifestyle.

    So happy for you! Hope to finally meet you guys in person in Chiang Mai...beers in hand;)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Thanks Mary! And yup, we should definitely meet up in a couple of weeks in CM ... with beers. :)

  22. Reply

    Jenny

    November 8, 2012

    Here's to making the next even more amazing! :]

  23. Reply

    A King's Life

    November 8, 2012

    Very cool! Travel is really enriching when you have a partner to share the great and not so great times with.

    I loved my limited travel alone when I was younger, but I relish it even more now with my little family.

    Dang! You guys are so dang cute!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      I've loved my years of solo travel too, I'll freely admit, but I really can't complain about the current state of affairs!

      And thanks ... although really, I think Lauren is the far cuter one. :D

  24. Reply

    Scott

    November 8, 2012

    It's like I wrote it myself, but much better. Congrats on an awesome year buddy and I'm sure we will cross paths in 2013 too.

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      This comment really made me laugh - thanks mate. See you on the road!

  25. Reply

    Steph

    November 8, 2012

    Haha you really, REALLY hit the nail on the head on what it's like to be a traveling couple. When you miss a bus or get lost and just want to strangle each other, but a couple of hours later you're eating dinner on the beach and the world is perfect.

    This post made me really happy!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Thanks Steph! It's not always puppies and rainbows in a travel relationship, right? But it kinda is much of the time. :)

  26. Reply

    Christine

    November 8, 2012

    DAVE! This means just a little over a year ago we were having delicious lattes in Fitzroy--where has the time gone?! I can't even express how happy I am for you. You have charged ahead in achieving your dreams and you found love and you're doing it all while eating deliciously spicy curry and drinking cheap beer! You're the living, breathing definition of the Holstee Manifesto, and it is pure awesomeness. Keep living the dream, friend--here's hoping our paths cross again over a coffee! (I mean, we're supposed to hit up Africa with Joel in 2013 to keep up the tradition, right?)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Totally can't believe that it was around a year ago we were comparing travel plans in that cafe and promising to meet up again in SE Asia - although at least we actually managed it! And that's a lovely comment about the Holstee Manifesto - esp. since I had it printed out and stuck on my cubicle wall until the day I quit! See you in Africa ... or NYC ... or South America ... or beside Mrs Pa's smoothie stand.

  27. Reply

    nomadic translator

    November 8, 2012

    Aww this was just too cute! Congratulations on your anniversary of leaving cubicle hell :D and of meeting your honey!

    Cheers, for many wonderful years to come.

    - Maria Alexandra

  28. Reply

    Dani

    November 9, 2012

    Wow, has it really been a year already?! Crazy how time flies! Anyway, I am happy for you that you are living the life of your dreams and have found a woman to share this amazing life with (also can't believe that your anniversary is coming up next week!!) I hope you and Lauren will celebrate in style! :) To many more best years of your life!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Well, we've moved our plans around a bit to ensure that our anniversary day isn't spent on an all-day bus to Bangkok like it was going to be. That's a start, right? ;-)

  29. Reply

    Bret @ Green Global Travel

    November 9, 2012

    Great stuff, Dave. Congrats to you and Lauren on finding each other, loving each other through the ups and downs, and reaching you anniversary. Wishing you many more years of happiness to come!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Thanks Bret - that's definitely the plan!

  30. Reply

    Svetlana

    November 9, 2012

    how nice was to read it, Dave!!!! I'm so happy for both of you guys :) wish you many other exciting moments together, you do great job ;-)

    You're right relationship is not always easy but it worth it ;)

    hugs from Ukraine :)
    Svetlana

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Thanks Svetlana ... totally agree, it's not always easy but it is always worth it. :)

  31. Reply

    Alyce

    November 9, 2012

    Good to hear you're still having fun! You and Lauren should go on The Amazing Race, with the travelling you guys have done, you'd win for sure. :D

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Not sure when we could fit it into our schedule! There might be a spare slot around 2016 or so... maybe!

  32. Reply

    Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    November 9, 2012

    So very happy for both of you!

  33. Reply

    Torre – Fearful Adventurer

    November 9, 2012

    I'm group hugging you right now. ((((000))))

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      You'll be able to do it in person in a week or so, hopefully!

  34. Reply

    janet

    November 9, 2012

    I love hearing travel relationship stories working out. Because of the 'extreme' lifestyle that can be alienating or even seem emotionally unavailable, it seems 'hard' to date travelers. so i LOVE it when i hear successful ones i guess wishing it could be me someday :D haha. i guess i'm halfway there with a relationship, just need the travel part ;)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Yeah I'll admit that I had kinda given up hope of meeting someone like-minded, especially while I was living back in Australia. As it turns out, it took all of 8 days once I left!

  35. Reply

    Gerard ~ GQ trippin

    November 9, 2012

    How do you spend every waking moment with a partner traveling for a year? I find it NEARLY impossible. =P

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Prescription grade meds are available over the counter in Thailand. Just saying...

  36. Reply

    Caz Makepeace

    November 9, 2012

    Just lovely! So happy for you. There is nothing I like to hear more than someone who is living their dream and making the world awesome as a result.

    I totally understand the wanting to throw your partner under the bus thing. Craig and I have had some doozy arguments on the road and they usually come after a long, hot, tiresome journey!

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      Yeah, you try your best not to take it out on the other person, but sometimes.......

  37. Reply

    I remember the day we were walking the streets in Chiang Mai, and you told me,

    "uh so don't tell anyone yet, but this girl I've been talking to on twitter is flying in tonight, and going to be staying with me"

    hahaha good times :)

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 9, 2012

      *whistles* I'm sure I don't know what you mean...... ;-)

  38. Reply

    Amanda

    November 10, 2012

    Congrats on an amazing year on the road! It's indeed always nice to hear stories of traveler/blogger romances working out!

  39. Reply

    cody

    November 12, 2012

    You're such an inspiration. I've been going through your archives and am amazed at all you have accomplished. I guess everything sort of falls into place when you take the first steps towards doing what you love. Keep writing and travelling!

    And just out of curiosity have your reached your New Years Resolution of $3000/month?

    • Reply

      Dave

      November 12, 2012

      Aww, thanks Cody! I feel like there is still so much I want to see and do in my life ... but I doubt that feeling will ever disappear to be honest.

      To answer your question - not really. I get pretty close some months, but haven't hit it consistently yet. Given how much time I spent in SE Asia this year it hasn't mattered from a 'breaking even' point of view, but it'd be nice to get there next year. There will be more details in my 2013 plans post, I guess. :)

  40. Reply

    Carly

    November 16, 2012

    Great post, gave me goosebumps!

  41. Reply

    Ayngelina

    November 19, 2012

    Congratulations Dave, one year is a long time but I suspect it is just the beginning for you.

  42. Reply

    Matthew Karsten

    November 25, 2012

    Yeah! Sounds like an epic year Dave. Working for yourself is a lot of fucking work, but totally rewarding and worth it. Congrats to both you and Lauren. :)

  43. Reply

    Marco Fiori

    November 30, 2012

    This is awesome to read Dave, especially as I'm about to embark on a similar life change, changing my job to work remotely, photograph the world and generally live a more fulfilling existence.

    Glad to see someone achieving what I hope to happen to me.

  44. Reply

    Rebecca

    December 1, 2012

    Very cool! Hopefully you can say the same thing next year, and the year after that and... you get the picture! :-)

  45. Reply

    Steph | DiscoveringIce.com

    December 11, 2012

    This is so lovely! Congrats! Me and Andres are gradually starting to earn money from our online efforts and make our travelling plans possible....even though right now we are settled in Andres' hometown in Colombia. It's great knowing that it's possible, should we take off on more travels in 2013. :)
    Sounds like an amazing year for you! Wish you both the best!

  46. Reply

    Creative Nomad

    January 3, 2013

    amazing! well done!

  47. Reply

    Adam Sommer

    January 5, 2013

    I wish my wife and I did this when we were a bit younger (before kids). We travel a lot now, but with kids you lose the ability to quit the cubicle rat race and travel the world....what freedom though!

    Looking forward to another year of following your travels!


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