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. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
    Our story has been great since we left our old lives much the same as you guys did. We have enjoyed 7 years of travelling and pet & house sitting worldwide and 2013 is shaping up to be another busy and exciting 12 months! Would love to do the Train Challenge but not possible this year. Planning an extended trip to Oz and SE Asia later this year so plenty to research! Your posts on Laos have been extremely helpful. Petra is also on the cards for April :)


  2. 2013 is a year of transformation for us. Like a butterfly leaves behind her cocoon, we will be taking early retirement from our careers to begin a project we are calling “The 1,000 Week Vacation.” By the end of the year we will have freed ourselves of everything we own and will have begun to slowly move around the world. What a fantastic way for Donald to view his life. We too expect to be living a good story.


  3. I’m planning on traveling more this year, haven’t left my home city in a long time. I’m thinking of doing a cross country tour of Canada in the summer.


  4. Hey guys! Sorry we couldn’t make a visit work in Playa last week… car transport is a pain in the butt with a baby. Enjoyed this read… we plan to make 2013 the year we find ultimate balance between work, family, travel and health. Lots of personal challenges that we are stoked to accomplish!

    Thanks for linking up our article too!

    See you at TBEX ;-)


  5. I’m reading this post on my last day of full-time work before I leave the UK to travel indefinitely with my BF and it’s really struck a chord. Our story in 2013 will be about daring to break free from the life we’ve become so constrained by, it’ll be about travelling the world and doing things we once believed were near impossible for us. Your blog, along with many others, gave us the courage to do this. Thanks for the recommended reading too – I’m currently half way through Shannon’s ‘Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook’ and it’s giving me loads of ideas and inspiration.


  6. We can relate to this because as soon as we decided to make a video series about our life, it became apparent that everything we did had to hold some interest to the viewers! Which forces you to get out more, lose weight or build muscle to look better and attempt things you probably wouldn’t usually be comfortable doing. I think 2013 is going to be an exciting one for most of us bloggers because we have the right mindset already.


    • I think that’s true of blogging in general – you want a good story for people to read so you start living a good story. Hope you guys have a fantastic 2013!


    • Excellent, that’s very cool that it had such a big influence. I wonder how many people read it and are inspired to actually go and live a better story. Great series!

      The site should be back up now.


  7. I, too, love the idea that we write our own stories – it’s so true! Too often I think people play the victim card; blaming everything and anything for the things that are wrong in their lives or for why they are unhappy. The truth is, WE are really the only ones who can change the things in our lives that make us unhappy!

    My story in 2013 is going to be one of travel, taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way, and living every day to the absolute fullest. I can’t wait!


    • Wise words Amanda. I’m reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at the moment and Habit 1 is about being proactive and realising that it’s how we respond to what happens to us that’s important.

      Sounds like a great 2013 for you!


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