Lost Girl of the Week: Lori Kessler

Lost Girl of the Week — By on December 7, 2011 at 6:00 am

This week’s Lost Girl, Lori Kessler, discovered her love for travel after she graduated college. Intrigued by the unique places she visited, she is now determined to leave her perfect New York life behind for adventure around the world.


Where to begin.  Let’s start with booking a one-way ticket to Argentina.  April 3, 2011.  That’s when it will all begin.  But it started way before that.

I’ve always lived my life exactly by the books.  I worked hard to go to college, to work hard through college to get a good job, to work hard at my job to get a new, better job…got an apartment, paid rent, back to work, lather, rinse, repeat.

I started to travel after college, and loved exploring places that I hadn’t heard too much about.  I found it amazing how everywhere I went was so unique from the next, and I was continually blown away by how much of this world I knew nothing about.  The architecture, the people, the language, the customs – everything I encountered was completely new to me.

In the summer of 2009, I went to Peru and Brazil, which was the trip that changed my life.  I did a 5 day hiking/mountain biking/zip lining tour to get to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, a place I  had seen pictures of but knew little about.  Despite the lack of food, sleep and hot water, and near-death experience climbing Huayna Picchu, I felt a stronger attraction to this place than I’d ever experienced in my life.

I made friends along the way who had quit their jobs or taken time off to travel, which was a concept unreal to me.  That didn’t fall into my world view of the proper next step to take.  But these people, they were all so peaceful and happy – just wandering without a care in the world.  It was something I had never seen before, and made the trials and tribulations back in NY seem so foolish.  Standing on line for 2 hours to spend $40 on brunch…going to the gym 6 days a week…working 12 hour days to go home and do it all again tomorrow…none of it could compare with the world my new backpacker friends had opened my eyes to.

I came back to NY and I all I wanted was to go back.  My world was thrown upside down.  I had made it so far, or so I thought.  My great apartment on the Upper West Side.  My job in advertising sales where I got to spend every day selling something I actually loved.  I had a great family, great friends, a great life – so what was missing?  I think it was the element of not knowing what was going to happen next, not taking the next step in my premeditated life plan.  Because despite all of the amazing things in my life, all I wanted was to go, for just a little while, and experience this backpacker’s life in this amazing continent I’d had the tiniest glimpse of.

A few months later, my company announced they were looking for people to take buyouts, right around the same time that my brother was planning to travel after graduation.  My lease was going to be ending, the buyout would fund my trip, and I’d have my brother, who’s also my best friend, to go with – the stars seemed to be lining up for me to do this.  I sold my furniture.  Gave up my apartment.  Found a new home for my cat.  Booked a flight.  And then found out I didn’t get the buyout.  I was heartbroken.  I was never going to get to see the world.  I had created the next step in life for myself and for the first time it hadn’t work out.

For the next few months, I started to think that maybe this happened for a reason.  Maybe life isn’t meant to be planned out the way I’d always done.  The whole point of backpacking is going from place to place, living in the moment, and not knowing where you were going to end up next.  I realized that if I didn’t take a leap of faith and do this now, I may never have the chance to do it.  My window of opportunity before I do the next traditional milestones in life – get married, buy a house, have a baby – is narrowing.  I made a decision, to stop planning and just live.

So April 3, 2011 it is.  I have a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires.  I’ll be spending 5 months with nothing but the backpack on my back, and my memories of the life I’m leaving behind.  I’m not going to think about what happens after I get back, where I’ll live or work even what city I’ll end up in.  All I can think about are the place in South America I want to visit.  I want to go to Ushuaia (otherwise known as the end of the world), and hike glaciers around Tierra del Fuego.  Go to penguin colonies in Punta Arenas and drink wine in Mendoza.  Visit the depths of the mines in Bolivia and learn to tango in a milonga in Buenos Stargaze and sandboard in San Pero de Atacama and see the waterfalls at Iguazu.

So let the countdown begin.  Viva la South America, ad bienvenidos to my new life!

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  • Sarah says:

    Wow! Did you write an article on me and change my name/photo? I have also worked too many 12 hour days and bought too many $14 cocktails, and last year decided to quit my job (in finance, not advertising) to travel round the world. My one way ticket to Buenos Aires is booked for May 1, 2011! Perhaps our paths will cross somewhere along the way. Best of luck, I know how daunting it all seems!

  • Enoch Gritz says:

    Great backpack i love it. always recommend to all my friends and they love it to. Great backpack i love it. Always favor to all my co workers and they love it to.

  • Iona Dekker says:

    Great website i love it. always recommend to all my friends and they love it to. Great Theme i love it. Always speak highly of to all my acquaintance and they love it to.

  • Lauren says:

    Inspiring story, and I love the way you write! Do you have a blog? I want to follow your story as it unfolds!

  • Lily says:

    I think she means April 3, 2012? Not April 3 2011 hahaha.

  • Lori says:

    Thanks Lauren! I did keep a blog during the journey; http://www.loriandthellama.blogspot.com
    It was an amazing adventure!!!