What Will Your Story Look Like in 2013?

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I recently read an inspiring book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Miller was working with filmmakers to write a screenplay based on his memoir and he had the unusual opportunity to edit his life. Through the process he discovered what makes a good story and it inspired him to start living a better story in real life too.

Miller’s life had become stuck in a rut but by consciously deciding to live a better story it led him to hike Machu Picchu, cycle across America for charity, and start a non-profit foundation. Once he committed as an overweight, middle-aged man to the trek to Machu Picchu there was no going back. As Miller discovered:

“Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”

I love the idea that we write our own stories. That our lives should be as exciting as the book we read or film we watch—full of meaning, adventure, and most importantly, transformation.

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just a condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another.”

To live a good story we need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone, to challenge ourselves, to seek that transformation.

It was in pursuit of living a good story that we sold all our possessions and left our comfortable lives in the UK to travel the world. We changed, and we continue to change. We face new challenges, like launching our first product, every day.

So, what will your story look like in 2013? We’d love to hear your plans.

And if you are looking for a travel adventure then here’s an opportunity for you:

The Ultimate Train Challenge

Lisbon view

The Train Challenge starts or finishes in the beautiful city of Lisbon

Our friend and fellow nomad Michael of Go See Write (who we’ve bumped into on four continents now) is an overland travel fan and last year along with two other bloggers he travelled entirely by train from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam—in just 30 days! He has now opened up this crazy challenge to other travellers. Are you up for the Ultimate Train Challenge?

The idea is to make it from Saigon to Lisbon—or Lisbon to Saigon—in the month of May. All by train. You make your own schedule and choose your own route. Although it is about 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) to navigate, you’ll still have time to stop at cities like Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Prague, Moscow, Beijing, and Hanoi along the way. It’ll be an epic journey and definitely a good story.

For more details on the adventure including the prizes available, and the charity that will benefit if you participate, see the Ultimate Train Challenge info page. If you register by February 15th, there is a reduced entry fee of US $295 and Michael has given us a discount for our readers so for $30 off use the referral code EM13UTC.

If you decide to take the challenge, let us know as we’d love to see how you get on.

Get Inspired

Here’s some more recommended reading to get you inspired to live a good story in 2013:

  • Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting – Do you want to travel more in 2013 but can’t afford it? Housesitting is a great way to get free accommodation around the world in exchange for looking after the house and pets. Our friends Dani and Jess from the Globetrotter Girls have had some amazing housesits and and now they’ve written this ultra comprehensive guide to help you try it too.
  • Getting Rid of It – We sold all of our stuff before we became digital nomads and have never felt more free. Whether you want to sell your belongings and embark on a trip around the world, or just want to clear some junk out of your house, this book by Warren and Betsy at Married with Luggage will help you do it.

We hope this gives you some ideas for travel adventures in 2013. We’d love to know your plans.

Our Sponsor: Visit Britain

We’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsor for this month, Visit Britain. Running this site takes a lot of time and effort and we couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors and advertisers. So if your plans include a trip to Britain, and you’re into chocolate as much as we are, then stick York on your itinerary for 2013. Check out this video of the chocolate trail in this beautiful historic city.

We receive an affiliate commission if you book the Train Challenge or buy the above books through these links. We only write about things we think are awesome. Thanks for your support.

Are you planning your next travel adventure? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

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  1. Thanks, Erin. Great advice here. I especially appreciated this bit: “Define specific outcomes that you hope to achieve. Set goals. Write and build projects with the end in mind. Focus on deliverable, not the time it takes to complete them.” It’s got me thinking, what’s my next deliverable? It’s also got me wondering: What’s my bold opinion? What is going to be my particular angle on this? What makes my perspective unique? Scratching it out as I go…


  2. Hi Simon & Erin,
    I started 2013 by quitting my full-time Wall St. job and moving to Thailand -on week 3 here in Phuket :) My passion for Muay Thai (Thailands national sport- boxing) is what drew me here. Like you guys, moved outta my apt, sold my stuff on craigslist /ebay and only brought 2 suitcases and backpack. Best decision ever.

    Been following you guys for a few months now as a fellow muay thai blogger posted about your travel app. I’m a geek like Simon hehe…so down the line will be thinking of working from a laptop. Anyways, your site is awesome and really helpful…it opened my eyes to the whole “digital nomad lifestyle” community that exists…didn’t realize there were so many others living the dream…just more inspiration for me :) Keep up the good work guys. If you’re ever in Thailand, give me a shout…would love to buy you guys a drink.


    Take care,


    • Congratulations on taking the leap Christopher. I love the idea of focusing your travels around a passion like Muay Thai. We love Thailand and I’m sure we’ll be back so hopefully we’ll cross paths one day.


  3. Hi guys, loved this post. We have just about to hit our 1st year anniversary of our nomad life. This year we have an amazing year planned – Mayan Riviera, Costa Rica, Barbados, Greece, Italy, Croatia, London, Amsterdam then finish the year starting our SE Asia stint. Im so excited about this year.

    Then there is a digital nomad course I am very excited about ;)


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