Some stories are too good to believe. And then there are stories like Megan Sullivan's, which are so good they make you want to believe. It all started last November, when Sullivan was injured in a fall off a cliff while climbing in Yosemite National Park, then hit by a car while riding her Vespa and, to top it off, given a skin cancer diagnosis.
The last bit is the one that ended up changing her life the most. After surgery to treat the cancer, Sullivan, 31, got two weeks off work, so the adventure-loving video producer for a San Francisco-based ad agency decided to use her sick time off to complete a trip that she'd dreamed of for three years: visiting the 7 Wonders of the World.
She needed a companion, so she tapped her boyfriend of just a few weeks, Chris McNamara, and set out on the ultimate journey on December 28. Her trip involved 12 countries, 15 flights, 28,211 total miles traveled, 5 hotel night stays and 13 days, which she chronicled last month in a video that got Ashton Kutcher all excited about her travels.
She also just post a video of her latest amazing race, selling most of her possessions on eBay to fund a Memorial Day weekend blitz on an electric skateboard through the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy with McNamara.
With summer travel season upon us, MTV News asked Sullivan for some advice on how to make the most of your adventure.
Chichen Itza, Mexico - It's Not All About The Money, Money
"A massive misconception is that you have to be Bill Gates to travel the world… false. Decreasing useless spending on your day-to-day will allow you to not only save for any trip you desire, but it will empower you to get rid of a lot of the waste that we all have in our lives."
Machu Picchu, Peru - Pack Light, Real Light
"If you want to get the most out of your trip, you will need to pack light, extremely light. The sure way to get taken advantage of is by looking like an inexperienced traveler wearing all of last season’s outdoor apparel that you found on the clearance rack at REI. You’re traveling around the world; you’re not climbing El Capitan, so dress accordingly."
Christ The Redeemer, Brazil - Just The Basics
"Besides the jeans, jacket and shoes I was wearing, I packed three shirts, seven pairs of underwear, and three pairs of socks in a small backpack. Which was plenty considering that you can easily transform your hotel sink into a Laundromat along the way using the body wash as detergent."
The Colosseum, Italy - It's Not About The Destination
"During my 13-day whirlwind, I realized that it was not about the destination at all, but more about being in the moment at all times. Getting caught up on getting to that goal, whether it be a major tourist attraction or one more relevant to your life might cause you to loose sight of what is right there."
Petra, Jordan - You Can Talk To Anyone If You Try
"The ability to experience that many different cultures, languages and landscapes all in one go makes you realize just how small this world really is. It becomes a connected experience across humanity, knowing that we as people share many commonalities. Within days, normal communication styles were thrown out the window and you realized that it was pretty easy to communicate with just about anyone regardless of language by using common gestures...sketches... and so on."
Taj Mahal, India - It's OK To Chill Sometimes
"There were several times during the trip where I wanted to go and visit one more place, but realized that it would be more fun to just have a beer with the locals."
The Great Wall Of China - The Best Moments Are The Most Unexpected
"Some of the most memorable moments were the unplanned and unexpected ones… that conversation in the elevator with a stranger, or the impromptu dance party with a local street band."
Bonus Wonder: Yosemite Valley - Have Fun, Duh!
"'Am I having fun?' was a question that I would always ask myself on the trip. I am competitive by nature and can be a little short-sighted when it comes to accomplishing a goal, even if it means sleeping on the side of a rock wall for days in Yosemite Valley. I completely understand that most people do not enjoy sleeping on rocks or planes... if you don’t want to walk those 2,000 steps to get to the epic view because you haven’t been to the gym in ages, then do something that is fun for you."
"If I could summarize with a key take away from this trip, it would be... Just Do It," Sullivan said. "In recent years it was made all too clear to me that life is short. To live it with any kind of regret is not a quote that you embroider into a pillow, but one that one must actually live by. I had a vision three years ago, and instead of letting it go by the wayside with self-indulgent excuses as to why I could continue to put it off, I decided to just do it. Life is complicated enough... so take that vision or dream, simplify it, and live it."