Reflecting: How Travel Reawakens Your Passions

Extended travel offers an inspiring break for more than just those stuck in a rut in their career. It is also great for those who need to recharge their lives – like Teresa Gotay and Mike Tieso from Art of Backpacking. They share with us how travel reawakened their passions and set them on their life paths.


Teresa Gotay

Teresa in Peru

When life give you lemons, you don’t always have to make lemonade. What if you’re in the mood for iced tea? You envision your life to go one way, and it ends up another. All my life, I envisioned a cookie cutter lifestyle of going to school, starting my career and getting married before the age of 25. As my 24th birthday recently passed, I have yet to complete any of the three.

In early 2008, in my Senior year at St. John’s University, I lacked financial aid, decent credit and the motivation to finish school. For years, I was surrounded by the notion that you had to finish school as soon as possible before the rat race began. After working countless 9-5 jobs, bartending in between, moving in and out of many apartments in New York City, my life battery needed a recharge.

2010 became the year of travel and self-discovery. I spent 5 months traveling through South America getting a taste of the backpacking experience. It left me with a craving for more and the appreciation of people, culture and travel.

At times, I felt guilty for going on a grand adventure with baggage back home. But, I never felt so motivated and spiritually awakened by the sights of new places, the experiences with new people and the new-found adoration for my life sabbatical. It was the right time and just what I needed to get back on track.

As an aspiring writer; uniting my love for travel and writing brought me to Art of Backpacking as a way to channel this experience. Working with my longtime friend Mike, who embarked on his own journey in 2009, became the vibrant equation for a site dedicated to illustrating the Art of what else? Backpacking!


Mike Tieso

Mike in Bolivia

The greatest ideas can come from the even the most ironic spaces. A few years ago, I was enjoying my normal lifestyle; watching television at home with family. I got caught up watching “A Map for Saturday”; a pivotal documentary for backpackers to get the ideal glimpse of a world that would change my life.

There it was; my inspiration to see the world and travel. It seemed so far fetched as I was not yet a college graduate, but working full time at in the Corporate world of UPS. Stuck in the middle of student loans, car payments, credit card bills and one expensive lifestyle. And what worse way to realize this than in a cubicle; with my boring routine lifestyle that saw neither versatility nor exciting escapes.

Like any normal 20something; I enjoyed the nightlife and having fun. If I knew then what I knew now, I could have been backpacking for years! One small decision led me to quit my job and sell all my possessions, eliminate debt, and save over $10,000 to travel for 11 months.

Fast forward to May 2009 where I took off to Beijing, China to embark on a journey that would change me to my inner core. It became second nature traveling on a whim through Asia, Australia and South America; as if I’ve been doing it all my life. Traveling gave me identity, meaning and focus to give my life value and much needed color. I’m even returning to China this August (2010) to teach English for a year.

Opportunities to travel are possible and not unattainable. When you’re passionate about something; you find ways to make it happen. Sometimes you need a change of pace to truly discover what your life goal is. Mine is to travel and to share that love of travel with the world.

As good friends with the love of travel; we can agree that Art of Backpacking is our melting pot of thoughts, ideas and inspiration to provide to others who want to do as we’ve done. As young individuals, we reiterate the idea that it’s okay if you need a break. Don’t feel guilty for opening your eyes to what the world has to offer. There is no better time than right now!

Art of Backpacking will be co-hosting our Meet, Plan, Go! event in Philadelphia.

Other comments

8 Comments on "Reflecting: How Travel Reawakens Your Passions"

  1. Sofia on Mon, 23rd Aug 2010 7:44 am 

    great post! I LOVE the finishing words: There is no better time than right now!! So true, and motivating as well 😉

  2. Andi on Mon, 23rd Aug 2010 8:37 pm 

    Very inspiring!!!!!!!

  3. Jaime on Wed, 25th Aug 2010 4:50 pm 

    I can really relate to “If I knew then what I knew now, I could have been backpacking for years!” I have never been backpacking but have always had a passion for travel & I didnt know how cheap it really is to travel. Thanks to blogs like yalls that I LOVE I got the motivation I needed to start getting everything together. I have been planning for a few months and if everything goes as planned in less than a year I will be setting off on my 1st RTW trip. I actually started a blog to document my thoughts and planning as I go along.

    Stories like this are what keep me motivated to make it happen.


  4. Keith on Mon, 30th Aug 2010 4:47 pm 

    Good job guys!

  5. Erin on Mon, 14th Feb 2011 12:39 pm 

    Keep posting these stories, I”m hoping the more I read, the more it will motivate me to get moving and fulfill my dream.

  6. Michaela Potter on Tue, 15th Feb 2011 9:16 am 

    Erin – We have already told many great stories and will continue to keep posting them. The key is that the more people are inspired to follow their dreams, the more stories we will have to share! If you are looking for more in person inspiration, be sure to see if there will be a Meet, Plan, Go! event in your city. And if you are serious about fulfilling your dream, Basic Training may be the help you need. Hopefully down the road we will be sharing your story!

  7. Discovering New York, The Netherlands and Myself | Art of Backpacking: Backpacking Independent International Traveler on Fri, 15th Apr 2011 5:18 am 

    […] endless late night hangovers and a lack of gusto in my life made me take what I call now a “Life Sabbatical” It was in the middle of this trip backpacking where I hit rock bottom; lost a toxic […]

  8. Chels on Sun, 24th Apr 2011 8:34 pm 

    I love these inspirational posts. Where was your favorite place and where did you first go when you decided to make the break from the grind?

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