Have You Ever Wanted to Hit the Road? A Little Inspiration From Adam Shepard’s One Year Lived

I got an interesting email the other day.

The email was from Adam Shepard asking us to review his latest book, One Year Lived.

One Year Lived Adam Shepard

His first book, Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, was partly a response to Barbara Ehrenreich’s controversial Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

In Scratch Beginnings, Shepard’s set out to prove that he could start from almost nothing and have a working automobile, live in a furnished apartment and have $2500 in cash within a year. Where Ehrenreich failed, supposedly showing that those with limited financial resources are doomed to live in an endless cycle of poverty, Shepard succeeded in creating a successful life in one short year.

It’s an interesting premise, and landed Adam attention from the likes of NPR, The Today Show and CNN.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Adam’s email about his new book, One Year Lived, landed in our inbox.

In One Year Lived, Adam chronicles his year trip around the world. The book describes his experiences mustering cattle in the Australian Outback, bullfighting, volunteering with children in Honduras and meeting the love of his life.

It’s an interesting read as a travelogue, following the story of a self-deprecating young man on a trip around the world. Here, he describes bungee jumping in Slovakia.

“One of the guys says to me in broken English: “Just in case line break and you not stop before ground, we really enjoy know you.”

… Screw it. I take a final, lingering look over at Ivana, her expression cheery  and supportive. I spread my arms out wide above my head. I bend my knees. I rise up off of my toes. I curl my head down over the rest of my body. I dive. I soar. An exhilarated shriek explodes through my lips, prying at my clenched jaw. The world opens up. My pulse pounds even harder. I’m dropping. I’m flying. The forest widens, widens, widens—a sea of spiky green spreading beneath me. The fall lasts a day, a week, a month. Three-point-two-five seconds.”

But it’s the bigger themes that Shep (Adam’s nickname) touches on that make the book worth reading.

In the book, he muses, “How does a person muster the courage—or recklessness—to put it all to the side for a year? To shelve responsibility? Alongside heaps of motivation—new places, new experiences, new foods—why does one decide to go and another doesn’t? Whether escaping the mundane or chasing excitement, why do some people talk about their dream to do something anomalous and others actually do it?”

It’s a fantastic question.

What makes one person decide to take a chance, and travel around the world for a year, while another decides to stay at home and forgo that opportunity?

One of my regrets is not traveling earlier in my life. I was was close to 30 when Charles and I set out on our first year long adventure. Why didn’t I go before that? For all the reasons Adam says: I was comfortable, I wanted to go to school, and honestly, I didn’t even know where to begin.

Maybe the reason some people just take off (and why I finally mustered the courage at 30) is something like this (again in Shep’s words), “This—right now, today—this is our time to live, yours and mine. Quality years ahead, presumably, and we’ve already had some great experiences, met some great people, and created some great memories.”

It’s really about an understanding that life is short, that the opportunity that you pass by may never come back again. We’ve written posts on 10 reasons to travel right now, and Shep’s written an entire book filled with reasons why you should travel if it’s your dream.

Why did Shep go? In his words… ”

“I wasn’t angry. I didn’t hate my job. I wasn’t annoyed with capitalism, and I was indifferent to materialism. I wasn’t escaping emptiness, nor was I searching for meaning. I have great friends and a wonderful family. The dude two doors down invited me over for steak or pork chops—my choice—one Sunday, and I couldn’t even tell you the first letter of his name. Most of my teeth are natural. … I felt as if I was a few memories short, as if there was still time for me to go out there and get missing for a little while. Bust out the List o’ Good Times, sell my car, store my crap, stuff a backpack, buy a small mountain of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and hop on a plane. Just this once.”

Sound interesting?

You can find out more about Adam on the One Year Lived website, or on his Facebook page.

Disclosure: We weren’t paid to write this review (though we’re not above it, just in case J. K. Rowling’s looking for reviewers for her new book), though we did get a digital copy of Adam’s book to read.

13 Responses

  1. Nicole @ Suitcase Sroties

    I love hearing about other long term travelers! Leaving home to travel the world indefinitely was the best decision we ever made! Maybe one day we will write our own book 😉

  2. Heidi Wagoner

    Thanks for sharing this info Micki. I got the travel bug fresh out of college and have been addicted ever since. I have lived in 4 countries, currently Spain, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am excited to check out this book and get other perspectives. There is so much to see and do in this world, how can anyone just be “comfortable” and not “alive”? 🙂

  3. Sheralyn

    Love the idea and would love to read the book! We’re a family of 4 that is planning on taking off next year for an open-ended trip so SE Asia – can’t wait to have all the planning behind us and get going!

  4. Maria

    “why does one decide to go and another doesn’t?” Age old question there.
    This post is a great read and inspiring/motivating.

  5. Ryan Dempsey

    We recently returned from one year away from home too, only we stayed in one spot mostly. I’m itching to it again, only this time visit more countries. I found this post very inspiring.

  6. Alissa

    Would love a copy of this! I’m obsessed with travel story books, and sees like his ability to face his fears and live life is an inspriational story.

  7. Melanie Murrish

    We are a family of four, ten months away from paying off a huge amount of debt, and hoping to travel who knows where, and for how long? I’m currently reading Family on Bikes’ new book, and have a few more travel stories on my kindle, but would love to add this one to the queue!

  8. Mary Holt

    My husband and I are in our fifties and have just begun to spend our lives living the way we want to. Our kudos to those who had the courage to do so earlier!

  9. Mike Parker

    I’m starting my long term travelling dream in a few weeks and this is a great post. Look forward to reading the book as this has really wet my appetite.

  10. Vanessa

    ‘One Year Lived’ sounds like a great read. My dream is to travel.. I intend on spending my whole life traveling until the flame inside me can calm down and lightly flicker (if ever). I don’t plan on getting a degree, and will travel, volunteer, sell art online, and get odd jobs here and there to support my lifestyle.
    This book seems like an encouragement.

  11. Adina

    I’m on the island of Koh Kood now, barely 2 weeks into my 3 months travels and this completely made me smile even more than hearing the waves of the golf to my left. I’d love to read his book if that’s still an option, and if it’s not, great article still! Thnx for posting this 🙂 If I get a chance to find it in a bookstore, I’m definitely buying it! Cheers!

  12. Brandi

    We are pushing 40 with 2 kids “old enough” to really join in the adventure with us now that we’ve survived toddlerhood. Just found your blog as we are headed cross country on our youngest’s first big trip. We caught the bug 2 years ago and have been restless ever since. I’d love to read this book. And thanks for the blog.


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