Now, that dream is about to become a reality.
In just a few days, Salley will embark on a six-month solo trip to seven countries across the globe. Throughout his trip, Salley will share updates on his blog and with the Times News, including photos and interesting facts from his experiences.
“There are so many people that have really taken an interest in this, and it makes me incredibly happy,” Salley said. “For me, it started out as just living the dream. There have been a lot of things to overcome … but all these people have become so supportive and have wanted to follow this.”
Salley was born and raised in Kingsport and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School and East Tennessee State University. Through his career in business sales, Salley spent time in Boston and Memphis before ending up in Nashville, where he most recently lived.
Ahead of his travels, though, Salley has made some big life changes. He left his job and temporarily moved back to Kingsport to make the final preparations for his trip.
Love of travel
Salley took his first trip abroad to Italy in 2009, and since then he’s been on a quest to see the world. He incorporates two of his hobbies — hiking and photography — into his trips and hopes to share his discoveries with those who aren’t able to travel themselves.
“After that trip, I kind of got hooked on the fact of being able to take pictures and bring that knowledge back and show it to people,” Salley said. “So since 2009, I’ve traveled to 15 different countries.”
The big trip
Salley said he first got the idea for a six-month trip after his first time abroad.
“I met some people that were in the process of doing it, and it was always kind of an enticing idea to be able to go out and travel open-ended, to really spend time in different cultures and understand what life looked like, embedded in it,” Salley said. “It was always kind of a burning desire, and over the past six years, I’ve started to take the wishing and the desire and put a plan behind it — start to save for it, start to prepare for it and really try to understand how I would make it happen.”
Salley will leave on Aug. 11 and will visit the following places:
• Norway (to hike Geirangerfjord, visit Oslo/Bergen/Alesund and explore life above the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten Islands)
• Croatia (to explore Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Croatian Islands and Split)
• Greece (to explore Athens and the various Greek Isles: Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Rhodes, etc.)
• Nepal (to visit Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lukla, take the 12-day hike to Everest Base Camp and explore the Himalaya Mountain Region)
• Thailand (to travel the country south to north)
• Vietnam (to travel the country north to south)
• New Zealand (to rent a campervan for a month and overland the country, North Island to South Island, and take the Milford Sound trek)
Aside from a three-week stay he booked in Norway, Salley said he doesn’t have any concrete plans or reservations. Rather, he hopes the trip will develop organically as it goes along, allowing him opportunities to stay with locals and quickly change plans if needed.
“That’s the joy of booking this trip myself, 100 percent,” Salley said. “It’s mine and I can kind of craft it however it needs to be crafted.”
A learning experience
While Salley is looking forward to seeing new places, one of the things he’s most looking forward to is engaging with people and learning about their ways of life.
“The culture is a really big thing for me, just learning how people live in contrast to myself: what their daily life is like, what their routines are like, their views on the world and how things are different,” Salley said. “It’s also really important to me to share some of East Tennessee culture with people that I meet, as well. … I think that’s one of the joys, for me, of being able to travel is to share as much as I take in and learn.”
To keep up with Salley on his blog, visit thetristartrekker.wordpress.com.