From the outside, it seems as if Eddie Bauer guide and Nat Geo photographer Trevor Frost leads a charmed life. He travels the globe, takes stunning images, and returns home with incredible stories to tell. But living the adventure life requires sacrifice and compromise. In the latest between-trip dispatch, Frost reflects on whether his travels and his winding path have been worth the opportunity cost of a more normal existence. —LYA Editor
Words and Images by Trevor Frost
Is it worth it?
For the first time in my life, I can say that I am exactly where I wanted to be five years ago. I recently photographed my first feature story for National Geographic magazine before I turned 30. I’ve visited the South Pacific, followed the Serengeti migration with my father, swam with humpback whales in Tonga, lived in a cabin in Alaska that was a six-hour plane ride from the nearest town, and climbed the tallest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua.
The trouble is that now that I can say I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do in a set time period, I am standing on a great precipice in life, asking myself what’s next and was it worth it. Just this year I’ve noticed that it is getting harder and harder to relate to friends, even old friends. Each time I return home my parents look and act older. It feels like I’m skipping entire sections of life. I miss entire seasons and always miss spring, my favorite.
And when I am home, I spend most of my time catching up on all those things that go unattended to when you’re traveling in remote locations: unpaid bills, fixing things in my house, organizing all of my photos and videos, sorting through mail, and filing taxes that were due two years earlier. Then, of course, there is the travel itself. I have kept every boarding pass from every flight the past five years, and there are so many that I can cover the floor of two large rooms in my house (see photo). I won’t go into detail, but I’m sure each of you reading this can imagine all the things that can go wrong when you’re on that many economy seat flights.
Because I am a photographer, almost every adventure requires traveling with a significant amount of baggage, usually at least ten pieces. Inside all of that luggage is tens of thousands of dollars of camera equipment that seems to own me more than I own it. The truth is, I’d be lying if I told you I don’t ever think about throwing all of the cameras into the ocean, watching them sink to the bottom, and then hiding away in some quiet corner of Virginia and painting for the rest of my life. I’d love to do something with my hands, like renovating houses or woodworking—anything that doesn’t involve staring at computers for a return on my investment of time.
And yet, in just four days, I leave for my first adventure of 2016: a four-month expedition to film the rarest and most elusive wildlife in Northern Australia. I’ve spent the last month asking myself why I’m going and I’ll probably spend the next four days, right until I board the plane, asking myself again and again: Why must I go? As I write this, the answer is simple: Life lies in contrasts. If I didn’t leave I wouldn’t appreciate home, and if I traveled all the time I wouldn’t appreciate travel.
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