10 Years of Travel: A Look Back at a Decade on the Road

It’s been a little quiet here lately, and we apologize for that. We’ve been back in the US for just over a month now after making the difficult decision to leave Colombia on a humanitarian flight. Pretty much all of our plans for the rest of the year have been canceled. With no future travel to look forward to, we decided to look back on the past. It was a lot of work, but we’re excited to share our epic new film “10 Years of Travel” with you!

Reaching the 10 Years of Travel Milestone

Back in March, we officially passed the 10-year mark of when we first moved to China. We’ve lived in three countries and traveled to a few dozen others.

It’s been a wild ride, to say the least!

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Rachel’s first day in Beijing.

I already wrote a post with some reflections on a decade of travel, so check that out if you missed it. You can read about our Top 10 experiences over the last ten years.

We were in Medellin when we crossed that 10-year point. This was just a few weeks before the city completely shut down. Since we were still teaching double-time, we couldn’t exactly go out and party to celebrate.

Instead, we decided to take advantage of the awesome background in our Airbnb (a giant world map) and record a new video!

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10 years later…

Originally, my idea was to make a video called “10 Years of Travel in 10 Minutes.” I thought it had a catchy name. It also seemed like a fun challenge.

The idea was to sit down and just cover the most important moments of the past decade. Well, it turns out it’s quite hard to cover an entire decade of experiences in just ten minutes!

It was a lot of fun sitting down and looking back at the last ten years. From teaching English in China to getting married on Cloud 9 to backpacking across South America, there have been lots of highlights!

Going Through the “Digital Attic”

Sitting down and talking about the last decade was the easy part. The real hard work would be going through our “digital attic” as I like to call it.

You see, I’ve always been an avid video editor. Back in the day, we had a backyard wrestling league that we filmed. I would stack two VCRs together to edit videos for us.

My love for video production continued into high school, where I took all six courses of TV Production. While this was a class notorious for its roster of slackers and stoners, I was honestly into it and enjoyed it.

I started out as a business major at Michigan State but switched over to the Communication Arts & Science school so I could follow my passion for video production.

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Camping on the Great Wall sure was a highlight.

While I ended up moving to China to teach English, I never stopped making videos. On our first visa-run trip down to Hong Kong, I bought my first video camera in years and started documenting our travels.

As you might imagine, I have amassed quite the collection of videos over the decade! I’ve got a 2 TB hard drive that’s basically full of travel photos and videos, and that’s not even all of it.

Hard drives crash, memory cards get lost, and electronics get stolen. These are the inevitable realities of a traveling filmmaker.

I’ve already lost lots of good stuff over the years and wanted to make sure that some of the best clips actually got off the hard drive, even if nobody watched but us.

Living that Quarantine Life

Although I was excited about this new project, it was definitely a daunting task. I was already busy – teaching English online, freelance writing for other blogs, taking Spanish class, planning future travels, going to the gym, having fun on the weekends.

Then everything came to a screeching halt. Our trip to Panama got canceled. Then Colombia totally shut down all travel in and out. We were stuck living that #quarantinelife in Medellin.

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When home becomes an office and a gym.

My Spanish school had to close down, as did the gym. With no restaurants, bars, or music venues open, we didn’t have the usual distractions.

In addition, my freelance work cut back quite a bit. With no one planning trips, traffic has plummeted for us and all travel bloggers.

All of a sudden, I was left with an abundance of time and nowhere to go. If there was one positive thing, it was that I had no excuses when it came to putting this video together.

Editing 10 Years of Travel Videos

Having a project of this magnitude helped keep me sane over the last two months. It’s been so much fun looking back at all of the good times we’ve had over the years.

At first, the idea was just to use clips as B-roll over us talking. Once I really got to digging around in that digital attic, though, I found some real gems!

For example, there was one Halloween where I dressed up as Macho Man and a friend went as Hulk Hogan. Our roommate was David Bowie, so we had him interview us both just like wrestling promos from the 80s.

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Macho vs. Hogan – a classic.

I watched this ridiculous clip and laughed so hard it hurt! How could we let this clip just sit on a hard drive and never see the light of day? It would be a travesty!

That’s why I decided to just go ahead and add the clip in there. Any time I found a similarly hilarious video, it got added to the timeline as well.

Working on this video gave me a purpose and something to look forward to every day. Since we’ve all been living a real-life version of “Groundhog Day” lately, this was very beneficial to my mental health.

Once I got to our wedding, the video was already pushing half an hour. We both decided that was the perfect stopping point to split it in half.

That actually worked out perfectly, as 2015 was a big turning point for us. We got married, left China after 5 years, and moved to Bali to start a new chapter in life.

With Part One ready to go, I was super excited to share it with the world. The only problem was that our internet connection out here in the mountains wasn’t quite up to the task…

Since we had to wait a few days until they could send a technician here to up our speed, I decided to try something different. For the first time ever, I used the trailer feature in iMovie to put together a short teaser. I think it turned out really well! See for yourself…

The minute-long trailer was easy enough to upload, so we used it to generate some interest in the feature-length film. People definitely responded to it and seemed excited to see the whole thing!

10 Years of Travel in All Its Glory

It took us a decade to live and it took me over a month to edit, but we ended up with an hour-long film!

In Part One, we start with moving to Beijing in March 2010. We show life in the Chinese capital as well as videos from lots of our travels around Asia (like soaking in a hot tub full of red wine in Japan).

You’ll see clips from our gap year that we took around the US, Southeast Asia, and China.

It winds down with some highlights of our wedding, which was such a joyous occasion! See it all and more in Part One:

Part Two kicks off with our move to Bali, which had been one of our favorite travel destinations. We loved it so much we just had to move there and have a year-long honeymoon!

We had so many visitors in that year that we were always playing tour guide. In addition to exploring Bali, we also visited the islands of Flores and Lombok.

After the year in Bali, we transitioned to digital nomad life. We also moved to the other side of the world. Mexico has been our home away from home for most of the past three years.

We also share tons of epic footage of our travels around Latin America. With a new drone and GoPro the footage quality is much better!

Without further adieu, here is Part Two:

The Next Decade

It’s no secret that our 2nd decade of travel is off to a rocky start. We had to scrap our trip to Panama, which we were really excited about.

With air travel shut down in Colombia, we couldn’t even get back to our beloved Puerto Vallarta. Our only option was to throw in the towel and head back to the US.

We planned to be here this summer anyway, but that was when there were still music festivals and concerts. All of those have been canceled or postponed.

There’s also a wedding we’re supposed to attend in Seoul this October, but we have no idea if that’s going to happen…

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We’re pretty OK with being stuck here… for now…

Right now, we’re just trying to remain positive and stay busy. We’re going to take these next few months to spend quality time with family and friends.

In addition, we’re going to focus on creating new and useful content here and on our YouTube channel. If you have any requests for blog posts or videos you’d like to see from us, please leave a comment and let us know!

As far as travel goes, we’re just going to have to wait and see. We’re not going to make any immediate plans, but there are still so many places on our bucket list. We’ve definitely got some ideas for when travel gets going again!

Here’s to hoping we can get back on the road sooner than later. For now, we’re just going to do our best to enjoy this forced slow-down that life gave us. After a decade of putting the pedal to the metal, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing!

Thank you so much for reading this post to the end and following our long, strange trip! It means more than you know 🙂

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