Once upon a time, Geoff quit his job, sold everything he owned, asked a girl he had just started dating to do the same, and set off hitchhiking, not to return for a year. True story … ish.
That's actually the abbreviated, somewhat apocryphal version of the story of an experiment that really did happen. The slightly longer, slightly truer version is more complicated.
Geoff had been working in his consulting job for just over a year after college when he started to get antsy and worried that he had thrown away a life of writing and bohemian wandering to Grateful Dead shows in favor of a corporate world that he still didn't feel comfortable in. Reflecting back on a visit the previous summer from a college friend – nicknamed the Elf – who had just finished backpacking around the world, Geoff couldn't get out of his mind the idea that maybe he should do something similar and give writing another try.
In the early 1990s, the world travel scene was markedly different from today's. There were no cell phones and thus no way to communicate with loved ones back home outside of expensive, hurried payphone calls or vellum-thin airmail letters written in a micro-font. There was no widespread use of personal computers, let alone travel sites to learn about possible destinations and current political conditions – just word-of-mouth stories swapped in hostels with other travelers or out-of-date ...