“It disappears. There is no time anymore. It doesn’t really matter. Days just kind of go into nights. There are no days or months or whatever. You don’t have to care about it. Unless you have to navigate. Navigation has a lot to do with time. You need to know what the time is. But it doesn’t have the same meaning as it does here. Time at sea is just some numbers that you calculate with. And that’s it.” – Laura Dekker, on The Travelers

Laura Dekker is the youngest person to sail around the world alone – a feat she completed at the age of 16. I asked her about something I’ve always wondered: What happens to time when you’re spending months sailing alone across an ocean? I loved her reply (above) as an expression of the difference between home and the road, and the way we perceive spaces. Time can be a burden for all of us but if you put yourself on a big enough journey it becomes little more than a tool for progress or direction.

“I never knew if I was going to make it but I just wanted to know. I wanted to set out.” – Laura Dekker

At age 14, Laura Dekker set out to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the planet singlehandedly. And at 16, she completed that journey by sailboat. And while it’s an understatement to call that world record amazing, what I love most about it is that she took her time to complete it — experiencing the herself to the world, meeting people and finding stories waiting for her, one port at at time. She’s the subject of the documentary film, Maidentrip, given a TEDx Talk in Auckland, and the author of a new book called One Girl, One Dream — an autobiographical account of her epic adventure. In this episode, we explore Laura’s journey and the person she’s become today.

Listen to the interview:

A Quick Preview:

  • How Laura’s early years spent sailing helped her to see life as a series of challenges.
  • What happens to time when you’re alone at sea for weeks.
  • Why Laura took 2 years to complete the circumnavigation, which could be done in 7 months.

Explore Further:


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I’m a lifelong international traveler, the host of The Travelers podcast, and founder of Holocene, a framework and community for writing the story of your life using travel and creativity.