One country down, eleven to go. I almost wrote about how the month flew by, but I wasn’t sure that was true. Instead, I’ll dig deeper. Until now I haven’t said much about why I’m traveling.

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of self-help material. Too much. I figured there was a universal formula for happiness, and I set out to find it. I stopped using social media and watching television. I became an early riser. I tried yoga and meditation. I started journaling. I reduced my possessions. I began cooking and eating healthier. I reduced my drinking. I never did try what seemed to be the most universal life tip. Travel.

Then three years ago, I hopped aboard a last minute trip to Costa Rica with a great friend. And I loved it. I loved being outside. I loved experiencing the culture and trying new things. I loved meeting and being around adventurous people. I came home with a different perspective and knew that I needed more of that.

In the three years since, I did a lot of other things that weren’t traveling. I worked hard at a job that wasn’t a good fit for me. I worked hard to salvage a relationship that wasn’t meant to be. Last year I came across an embarrassingly simple piece of advice that shook me with its rawness.

“If you’re unhappy, change something.” ~Sue Grafton

So I began making changes. Leaving my friends, family, and hometown to travel was a big one.

A change by itself won’t give you much. The experience that comes out of it though can teach you something. When I began eating healthier, I noticed something weird. After a meal, I actually felt good. I’d heard people talk about feeling “sluggish” and “bloated” after they ate, but I didn’t really understand what they meant. David Foster Wallace sums it up nicely.

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” ~David Foster Wallace

By traveling, I hope to discover the water in my life. And while I no longer think there is some universal formula for life, I plan to find something that works for me.