A Little Less Digital, A Lot Less Nomad

It’s summer in Washington and I’m very glad to be home.

I do love to travel and that will never change, but I also love waking up in my own time zone and enjoying a meal without juggling my phone and fork. I hope you understand.

It’s impossibly hard to step away from a dream job that I built from scratch, but after nearly five years on the road, I have decided to take a sabbatical from this blog and its accompanying lifestyle. Over the next year, I intend to write my next book and spend a lot more time with my dog.

As Digital Nomad, I have completed 24 major assignments for National Geographic, in which I produced 591 blog posts, 215 videos, 20,000 images and some 37,500 tweets. I have shared my travels in real time from all seven continents, sometimes in the space of a single year.

It was a lifelong dream of mine to work with National Geographic, and over the last four years, that dream has been fulfilled many times over. In my whole life I never imagined that I would get paid to build bombs, cuddle sharks, track bears, kiss pandas, be buried alive, make Swiss cheese, or chase elephants from my yard. But I did all those things—and so can you.

If I have learned anything from my lifelong love affair with the Society, it’s that one thoughtful photo, a single phrase on a page, or just an inch of map can inspire us for a lifetime. Follow that inspiration and it will lead you to incredible adventures, even if that just means going for a short run.

I have also learned how to pack a carry on, how to eat bugs, and how to photograph wild rattlesnakes with an iPhone. I have learned that an iPhone will automatically shut down in temperatures greater than 122˚F and less than -40 ˚F. And I have learned how to say thank you in over a hundred different languages.

It has been a remarkable privilege to contribute in this small way to the distinguished tradition of National Geographic Travel. Though this blog bears my face and byline, it takes a large team of dedicated talent to make it all happen. In the vast crowd of family, friends and colleagues who made Digital Nomad possible, there are certain individuals I would like to thank by name. At National Geographic, I am especially grateful to Keith Bellows, Kim Connaghan, Pandora Todd, John Campbell, Heather Wyatt, Anna Irwin, Janelle Nanos, Carolyn Fox, Andrea Leitch, Marilyn Terrell, Jeannette Swain, Dan Westergren, Jerry Sealy, Amy Alipio, Norie Quintos, Jayne Wise, Scott Kish, Gio Palatucci, Mollie Bates, Kelly Conniff, Jess Elder, Roy Wilhelm and Declan Moore. Thank you for believing in this project and working tirelessly behind the scenes to move it forward.

I owe even greater thanks to each and every one of my readers. A story isn’t a story until somebody listens, so thank you all so much for listening and following my travels. I believe strongly in Tim Cahill’s sentiment that, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” Though I lost count after the first million miles, I remember all of my friends around the world, even those I knew briefly—sitting next to me on a train, behind the bar, or chatting around a campfire.

From the bottom of my dingy backpack, thank you. Thanks for reading, commenting and encouraging me in my work. I am lucky to have never been lonely on the road, because I’ve always had you with me.

Rest assured, the greater journey is not over—we’re just making a pit stop to refuel and sneak a few naps. I’ll be traveling to two of my favorite countries next month and you can still follow my adventures on Twitter, so please stay tuned.

And please never stop sharing with me. The internet is only what we make it—we can fill the ocean with rusty cans or we can let coral reefs flourish.

National Geographic has always been dedicated to sharing the wonders of Earth, and now with social media, we have all been empowered with this same mission. Use it wisely, and it will only improve the world we live in.

Thanks again for traveling with me these past five years. Best wishes to all my fellow travelers—may all the bumps in your road be memorable.

Gros Bisous-