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By Jason Jourdan

The journey that changed my life from A-Z was the one that continues to change other people’s lives today.


Horseback Riding in Mongol

I was 14 years old when my mother decided that she would pack up our lives in Vancouver, Canada and take my brother (25), sister (17) and me (14) backpacking around the world for a year. This news came as a double-whammy, life-shattering surprise just weeks after my parents had unexpectedly separated, my eldest brother had been diagnosed with cancer and my other brother was being shipped to Iraq as a pawn in a terrifying war.


Twisting roads through a hot Pakistan

With zero say in the situation, having no where else to go, I said goodbye to everything I knew. Friends. Family. Pets. Hygiene. And, little did I know, I was also saying goodbye to public bathrooms with western toilets, toilet paper and walls.

This “year-long” journey lasted a whopping four years and took us through 80 countries and it all began the moment we landed in China, my first country abroad.


The Great Wall of China

We travelled north to The Great Wall of China, rode Mongolian horses through Genghis Khan’s homeland, rode the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, hiked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and after six months of adventure arrived in India. For six more months we explored dozens of bustling, magical Indian cities, spent nearly 400 hours on third-class trains rubbing shoulders with locals, danced in street festivals and parades, wore saris and salwars and still hardly scratched the surface of the endless surprises and mysteries beheld in this historic country.


Local women in Kabul, Afghanistan

We moved east from there across the blazing heat Pakistani deserts, ventured over the barren mountains of the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan and covered our faces in hoped of blending in the crowds of Kabul as we made our way along the Silk road towards Europe and landed by cargo ship on the shores of Odessa, Ukraine. Hopping from one Eastern European country to the next we watched the astronomical clock in Prague as it rang and opened up at the stroke of the hour, cried in each other’s arms in Auschwitz, Poland, learned of world wars, hiked through mountain trails in Romania, swam in the turquoise blue waters of The Adriatic Sea in Croatia and stayed with Peace Corps workers we chanced upon in Moldova, Albania and Macedonia.


View over the sea in Croatia


Local woman selling bananas in Puri, India

We stopped in Jordan to live out our Indiana Jones fantasies at World Wonder Petra before diving south into Africa.


Swimming with local children in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Egypt took us not only down the Nile River but through history as we visited the masterpieces left behind by ancient Egyptian craftsmen. It was another two years in Africa staying with local families in their make-shift homes, camping in the bushes with wild animals sniffing our tents, spotting the Big Five on safaris, diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa, and meeting the love of my life in Ghana before I returned home to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 18.


Elephants visiting the campground during breakfast, Zambia

I battled tears, burning muscles, sunburns, family feuds, language barriers, hunger, suffered from heart ache and fear as we traversed the globe on foot and on local transport as a family to get to where I am today. The journey had changed my life so much that there was no way to go back to my old life in Canada. Just a few months after returning home I landed in The Netherlands for the first time on my quest to follow my heart. One journey led to the next and I have now been an expat (almost a citizen) in The Netherlands with my husband and our baby, Tripp for nearly a decade.

After years of traveling and writing I have since published the first two memoirs in my Sihpromatum travel series. Readers continue to write to me to tell me how my journey helped them through divorce, depression, suicidal thoughts and how their children have grown closer to them after spending a few moments reading a chapter or two of my book together before bed.


Camping in the desert in Sudan

The journey is not the destination or goal, it is every bit that gets you there. The struggles and heartaches and the stories afterwards that can change other peoples’ lives.


Ancient markets along the Silk Road

This week on #TRLT (The Road Less Traveled) Twitter chat we are talking about YOUR journeys. Please share with us in the comments below or join the live chat at 6pmUK/1pmET on Tuesday. Don’t forget to search and include the hashtag #TRLT in your tweets.

-Savannah Grace

PS. Always consider purchasing travel insurance before embarking on a grand journey. The process with TripTime is quick and easy.

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