Day job: writer and yoga instructor
"My yoga teacher gave me her best piece of advice: 'Always go toward love.'" After traveling solo all over the world, Yesko, 43, embarked on the defining trip of her life two years ago: a yearlong trek beginning in Curaçao in the Caribbean and ending in Spain.
Why she's so adventurous: When I was 6, my mom and dad bought a World Book Encyclopedia with all these fabulous maps, and they put it next to my bed. Every night before I went to sleep, I read a couple of pages. To me the world was this big, extraordinary, and interesting place. Later on what often compelled me to visit a place was the sound of its name. When I was looking at a map of Chile, there was a city called Arica near the Atacama Desert. Something in that desert's name just called out to me. I was 28, and I knew I had to go there. So I went to South America by myself for six weeks.
What prompted her yearlong trip: I had just left a job as a reporter, I had no major commitments—and this was something I had always wanted to do. Even preparing for the trip was liberating. I put a few things in storage, but I sold almost everything else. All I took with me was a backpack, two pairs of shoes, and a book with photos of my family and friends. My yoga teacher gave me her best piece of advice: "Always go toward love." I hooked up with other yoga people along the way and stayed in Buddhist monasteries.
How traveling changed her: I'm very noncompetitive these days—and I used to be a total Type A-plus. Competition can create a lot of anxiety where there doesn't need to be any. For me it's better to ask: How have I challenged myself today? The intention of my trip was to see if I could be at home in the world, and that intention was fulfilled.