Nickname: JMac

Age: 29

Where are you from? Atlanta, GA

What do you do for work? I worked in communications at a hospital in Chicago, IL.  I planned educational seminars for patients, wrote for the web and worked with local non-profits to connect patients with programs and services available to them.   

At the floating markets outside of Bangkok.

At the floating markets outside of Bangkok.

Why do this now?  Because I'm gonna die someday!  That's dramatic, but true.  Working at a hospital, I interacted with a lot of people who were sick and dying.  It really puts things in perspective.  I'm not going to be around forever, this has been a bucket list item for both me and Nate for a long time.  We always imagined it would be something we'd do after we had kids and they grew up, but when we started talking about quitting our jobs to move out of Chicago, the idea to take a bigger break to travel the world seemed like even more fun.  Although taking a break in my career scares the crap out of me, I think I'll always have time to work, but I won't always have time for this.

On the cliffs in Lagos, Portugal.  

On the cliffs in Lagos, Portugal.  

What do you hope to get out of the trip?  Honestly, I'm a little stuck on what I want to do next work wise. I've been working since I turned 15.  In college, I did the prerequisite Internship in My Field.  I bought a black suit and learned how to send thank you notes directly after an interview.  One month after graduation, I accepted a full-time salaried position complete with 401k and dental.  Seven years and four jobs later, I'm just now starting to step back and ask myself, "Wait, is this really what I want to be doing with my career?" I hope this trip helps gives clarity to what my next move will be.

This trip is also falling within my first year of my marriage.  Nate and I have been together for four years, but marriage is a new experience for us.  I'm looking forward to starting it off pursuing our shared dreams and seeing things that amaze us.   I know the trip will be stressful and will put strain on our relationship, but I'm also confident that it will bring us together.

Where have you traveled before? I've been to Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Portugal, China and Thailand. 

What do you like most about Nate?   Nate's a blast!  He's easily one of the goofiest people I've ever met.  Plus, he's always down to try new things and loves living outside his comfort zone.  Being around Nate is like being around a really excited, positive big kid who will most definitely join you for [sky diving, standup comedy trying, road tripping, sensory deprivation tanking, eating all manner of things].  On a more serious note, he's also a good and kind man.  He takes care of his family and is fiercely loyal to his friends.  

What place are you most excited for?  I'm really excited to see Cape Town and Peru.  I also LOVED Thailand when we visited last year, so I'm sure I will love southeast Asia.  

What part of this trip scares the shit out of you?  So many things, actually.  Compared to Nate, I'm the worrier in the relationship.  What if I can't find a job when we get back? What if we totally run out of money and have to live in my parents' basement?  How do you wash underpants in a hostel sink?  

Kayaking off Railay Beach in Thailand.

Kayaking off Railay Beach in Thailand.

What's your craziest travel experience?  In college I spent three weeks on a student trip to China.  It was mass chaos.  At one point, I was in an airport standing in a sea of 300 students trying to line up for a domestic flight that we were crazy late for.  Someone passed around a plastic bag, and we were all instructed to throw our passports in.  Meanwhile, my friend was violently ill and ducked down to puke into a bag in the middle of the crowd.  No one noticed.  

Weirdest thing you've eaten?  Dog (*cringe).  It was actually pretty good.