My Travels and Story

Me With Rescued Elephants

Let me introduce myself...

My name is Blake Freeman. I am currently a university student in the United States. I've been fortunate enough to have had some amazing experiences around the world and I want to not only share them with you, but help you enhance your travel experiences through the knowledge I've gained. 

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My Travels

My parents told me that the first time I boarded a plane, I was barely two months old. Since I was little, I have loved travel. Seeing new places and doing new things was something I understood to be remarkable. 

I traveled quite a bit throughout my childhood and I loved it. However, when we did travel (especially the few times I went out of the country) it wasn’t what I would consider today to be my preferred type to travel. We went to the usual beach resorts, Disney, Seaworld, and places like these until I was probably in high school. It wasn't until then that the true potential of adventure and exploration started to show its face. Instead of holiday gifts or big presents for birthdays, my parents started to take my sister and I on trips. We did three winter break trips throughout my time in high school to Vermont, California, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, the summer after my freshman year, my grandparents were kind enough to take me to Seattle for a week. Each place had something new and exciting to offer and all I wanted to do was see more.

The biggest change came for me in spring of 2017. I had to opportunity to help lead a community service trip to Cuba to bring supplies and restore a decimated cemetery. It was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my lifetime. We were there not as tourists, but as travelers. We were with locals of Havana everyday as we explored the city through their eyes. After Cuba, there was no going back. I spent that summer traveling abroad in Bulgaria, Israel, Switzerland, and France. It was my first time out of North America and I could not have been more pleased with what I found. The culture, people, food, architecture, history, and everything else was enchanting. It was on this trip that I discovered my ideal version of travel. Being with friends, seeing important sites, and spending time outside touristy spots to experience the real version of all these destinations. 

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In the years following I did some travel, admittedly not as much as I wanted. I went back to Cuba in spring of 2018 and back to Israel in winter of 2019. I traveled around the United States some going to places like Philadelphia, Denver, the Florida Keys, and more. In winter of 2020 (two months before COVID) I discovered a type of travel that I realized was not for me, cruises. While I know cruises are great options for people looking to relax and have fun, I saw it as a resort/casino on water. That mixed with less than ideal winds and the fact that I get sea sick, made it a trip that I doubt I will do again. 

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Coming back home after nearly six months of adventure was devastating to say the least. Months later, all I want is to be back in the rush of exploring Europe. But I realized that even though I wasn't back, I could do something with my experience. I made Exploration Always to tell my story and to help future explorers learn to travel differently. Everyone’s version of travel is different and they are equally amazing. I've made it my mission help people see the potential of seeing new places and discovering what the world has to offer. Travel is not visiting new and exotic countries, it’s not the sites you visit or even the things you do. Travel is a feeling, it’s the thrill of discovery. The discovery of yourself, knowledge, and different ways of being that we have not experienced before. I created this website to give the travel tips, reviews, recommendations, and to share my stories and knowledge. Not in the hope that you will simply go to a new place and check off some boxes, but with the hope that you will continue to chase the feeling that you get when you travel. 

Thai Buddhist Statues
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Storm is Brewing in Koh Samui, Thailand
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At this point, I had been in college for two years and I decided I needed a break. In October of 2019, I signed up for a gap year program that would take me around the world to four continents and about a dozen countries. I'm sure you can guess how that turned out and in summer of 2020 the trip was canceled. I spent months stuck at home since I was not signed up for classes that semester. It was brutal but finally in December 2020, I found a trip that had been confirmed to go to Thailand for three months. In January of 2021, I left with a group of strangers to Thailand. We quarantined for two weeks at a hotel in Bangkok before we could start but finally, it was over and we began our adventure. It was such an amazing experience being enveloped in a culture that was truly different from my own. We explored cities, went to small villages, and more. My favorite parts had to have been working with rescued elephants for a week, visiting national parks, and going to the island of Koh Samui. My trip ended in late April but I couldn't stop there. With the money I saved from working during COVID, I left Thailand to go to Croatia.

 

It was very daunting going to a country by myself. I had heard that people traveled solo but I wasn't sure I would like it. The moment I got to my first hostel, my entire viewpoint was changed forever. I realized solo travel wasn't traveling alone. Solo travel is traveling to meet new people who have the same passion for travel as you. I made amazing friends and went to three different cities with two of them. Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb were amazing but the real treasure of Croatia came from nature. Specifically, Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is the most amazing place I have ever seen with crystal clear lakes, waterfalls surrounding you at all times, and mountains engulfing the terrain. After over two weeks in Croatia, I left for Spain. I flew into Barcelona but the next day I took a train down to Sevilla. I wasn't expecting much and was a bit worried I wouldn’t have enough time in Barcelona but I figured I should see more than one city. As of now, Sevilla is my favorite city in the world that I have seen. The hostel was amazing, the people were so much fun, and there was more to do there than I could ever imagine. 

After a quick trip back to the States for some vaccines and time with my dogs, I went back for another month. This time I went country hopping, spending two to three days in each city. I went to Portugal, Italy, Slovakia, Denmark, and more. It was again an amazing experience and now I have an idea of which areas of Europe I prefer and where I would want to return. 

In the coming years I have big plans for my traveling career. Once I graduate, I will be moving to Europe. I don't know where and I don’t really care where I end up, cause I know that I will be living in a place where I have easy access to the feeling I get from traveling. I am hopeful that eventually, Exploration Always will become big enough to be my career so I can continue to help new and wishful explorers. In a few months, I will be heading to South America for the first time to explore the amazing countries of Peru and Bolivia. 

Contact

Have questions or want to contribute to Exploration Always. Feel free to contact me via email or by filling out the contact form in the Contact page.