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  • Alison Merrill

Why Did We Decide To Do This? Our 6-month Trip Around the World

Updated: Mar 22

We are going on a 6-month trip around the world! Sam and I will be on the East Coast all of June and then will leave July 2nd for Sweden to begin our journey - 2 months in Europe, 1 month in Africa, and 3 months in Asia (tentatively). Why have we not planned the whole thing? I guess that would be boring if we knew exactly where we were going and when we are doing it. Sam and I have booked most of the beginning, and are leaving the second half open, in case we decide we want to change courses along the way.


We have 1-month before we leave where we will be spending time on the East Coast and will be sharing updates such as our route, what we are bringing, how we are budgeting, and more.


My hope is that this blog will help us share our stories, stay in touch with family and friends, and bring some joy and fun to you, because if you know me and Sam, there’s going to be a lot of laughs along the way.


There is a time to push, and a time to slow down


“I don’t like work… but I like what is in work – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – which no other man can ever know” – Joseph Conrad


To be honest, I blinked and realized I have not stopped grinding since I arrived in San Francisco one and a half years ago. Upon moving to the Bay Area, I started a new job in corporate sales for a startup after previously working in education and helping to manage a nonprofit in Boston. It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked and because of that, I ended up becoming a top sales performer and being promoted to lead growth on a national level at my startup as well as becoming one of two dance team captains and competing on World of Dance on NBC for celebrity guest judges Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, and Derek Hough with my dance team Str8jacket. I felt a strong need to prove myself both at work and in dance. I worked vigorously, reading sales books, listening to business podcasts, and for a couple months stretching my work calendar from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm to take calls on the East and West Coast. At the same time, Str8jacket had the opportunity to compete on World of Dance the TV Show on NBC as well as perform all over the Bay Area. In our peak season, we were practicing 6 nights a week for up to 5 hours a night in San Mateo which was a 30-minute drive from my home in The Mission (“putting in extensive miles on Sam’s EOS” – Sam Kahane). My Str8jacket team members and I posted every meal we ate, all the workouts we were doing, and worked on creating new routines and material for our shows. Needless to say, there was not a lot of free time.


I am beyond grateful I had the opportunity to dive so fully into my work, dance, and to meet people who have become some of my closest friends. When I look back on this chapter of my life, it’s been the most special. I’ve learned that if you want to make a difference and grow, you have to dive fully into what you want and be willing to sacrifice - show up even when you do not want to and keep your mindset positive (the world has enough critics!), and only then, can you reap the reward of your hard work.


Three Books That Helped Us Prepare for This Trip


Sam wrote an amazing article two years ago that changed my life on the power of reading. Since reading this article, I made a commitment to read more. Once I started, it opened up a world of new ideas, possibilities, and helped me achieve my dreams as well as rekindled my passion for learning.


There is no doubt that a lot of successful people get their best ideas when they take an extended break, after a period of intense work. Tim Ferris, a famous podcaster, author, and entrepreneur got the idea for his best-selling book “The 4-Hour Work Week” after taking a year and a half to travel. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, got the idea for his company while living in Argentina. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce which is one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, created the idea when he was swimming with dolphins in Hawaii.


Here are the three books that inspired Sam and me to take this trip as well as plan aspects of our journey:


1. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris: a great resource for learning how to automate many aspects of life (from work to personal) in order to be effective, sustain yourself financially, and spend more time doing what truly makes you happy.


2. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel - Robert Potts: Recommended by Tim Ferris (thank you, Tim!) The difference between vacation and travel. How to unplug and visit and appreciate places, and the importance of making time for extended travel.


3. A Year Off: A story about traveling the world - and how to make it happen for you by Alexandra and David Brown: This book was/is a great tactical resource for how to plan our 6-month trip. The authors give tips on everything from how to plan your route, budgeting, what to pack, health insurance, visas, and more. This book (thank you mom for the Christmas gift!) helped us move from the “ideation phase” to the “let’s do this” phase.


Surround yourself with people who support you and make you better


Sam has always been a terrific “gas pedal”. When I expressed my idea that a trip around the world had been a dream of mine, he quickly hopped onboard and said “Why don’t we do it now?” At first, this seemed scary. However, with us both being 28 and important life decisions on the horizon, we decided this would be the time for us to go on “Alison and Sam’s Big Adventure.” Sam is the most positive, enthusiastic, and wisest person I’ve ever met - always building me up, providing joy, fun, and an incredibly wise perspective on life.


"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive” – Joseph Campbell


It’s always been a dream of mine to either live abroad or do an extended trip around the world. I love getting to experience new cultures, learn, and I find that being outside of my comfort zone is when I grow most. Every time I’ve traveled, moved cities, or lived abroad, I’ve unlocked a new part of myself, as it’s offered me a chance to start over. The beauty of starting over in a new place is I am able to leave behind pieces of myself that have limited me (beliefs around what I am capable of doing) and build upon aspects of my personality that I want to grow (confidence, compassion, and knowledge). Cheers to starting a new chapter and the beginning of Alison and Sam’s Big Adventure – thanks for following along!


Gratefully, Alison

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