My family loves travel. If we’ve saved up a chunk of money the first thought is, “Where to next?” My sister Lucy spent a couple years on a tiny Honduran island teaching children. My mom spent teenage summers motorcycling and giving medieval castle tours in Europe, was a missionary in Laos, and was a bridesmaid in Ireland for one of her distant cousins. My dad treks through the mountains every summer on backpacking trips over glaciers and alpine meadows and past lakes filled with trout. My parents are still traveling to other continents for trekking adventures now in their 60s. My husband, Beau, and I have had our fair share of adventures, too. Our son Harry’s first food was cappuccino foam in Italy! (and he’s been hyper ever since).
But nobody has done anything close to what my little sister Jamie has done (who goes by her last name, Spiro). Three years ago she decided to travel the world for two years. With few destinations in mind, and fewer plans of how she’d get there or where she’d stay, the girl packed up her striped t-shirt, cut-off shorts, a scarf and her iPhone… and said goodbye.
We watched in awe through Instagram. Every few days a new batch of pictures would come up, and we’d gasp at the beauty, eclectic culture, and bravery that she was experiencing. I admit there were times when I thought she’d either end up dead, give up early, or be trafficked into slavery…but no. Through desert sand boarding, hitchhiking over country borders, rainy castles, snowy alps, salt mines, Machu Picchu, colorful festivals, fried bug snacks, and ancient jungle monuments…we followed her vicariously. Her resilience was astounding. She got sick, was groped by strangers, lost her phone, bribed government officials, had her jeep get stuck, buses break down, and ran out of money and worked as a barista in Australia for six months.
I got to travel with her in New Zealand for a couple weeks. It felt like a small lifetime, letting the wind take us where it would blow, camping out in the bush, boating with dolphins, trekking through Hobbiton, and eating street food at the lantern festival. When it was time to go home I was so ready…but she kept on. As she had for two years! Wandering the earth with no true north, no possessions, and a handful of new friends wherever she went. She wandered. And through the unashamed lens of her camera, we got to wander with her.
Here are a few pictures so you can, too. If you’d like to see more of Jamie Spiro’s journey, her Instagram profile is @life_of_spi.