Today took me as a surprise as it has for the last 14 years. I got a memory from Amazon photos showing what happened “on this day” this afternoon and there it was. Bill and I in our external frame 25 lb. backpacks at San Antonio International Airport ready to leave on our one-year trip around the world.
But wait. This isn’t about us. Well, maybe a little. But it’s also about you.
I had a job that I enjoyed and was good at. I made a lot of money. I traveled all the time. I loved it, but I was at the end of the road. It was time to settle down and have a family. By choice. I was tired of living out of a hotel and away from Bill. We’d been married for a year and dreamed of home ownership and children.
Traveling the world was a dream that had started at least in high school, if not earlier. I recall being the only 3rd grader that I knew at my school that would show up before school for French lessons. Certainly, a high school trip to Paris with my French class solidified my dream of travel.
In college and beyond, I worked and put money aside. Bill, whom I started dating senior year of high school, was quickly on board. By the end of college and into our first years of the real world, we dreamed of traveling the world without the constraints of time.
When we had saved enough, I mustered up the courage to ask for time off of work. My supportive leadership (thanks, Subodh and IBM) didn’t hesitate to let me take a leave of absence for a year.
Friends and family thought we were crazy and at the time; it was kind of crazy. Cell phones were common but who the hell would incur those international rates? We left ours behind and opted for internet cafes and paper maps. Imagine how much printer paper MapQuest would have commanded in our backpack?
But on July 6th, we ventured out and by July 7th we landed in our first locale, Cusco, Peru; the home of Machu Picchu.
I remember telling my family that we may be back in a couple of weeks so that I could hedge my bets and not be too embarrassed if it didn’t work out.
Thankfully, it did work out and we spent 365 days away, visiting 22 countries.
Later, I could never quite explain to people the impact that such an event has on your life. There is a before and an after (and of course a during) but up until that point, there was no real way to explain that to someone that hadn’t also experienced it.
And then came March 2020. A trip around the world and a global pandemic have little in common except that I think we can all now divide our life into before, during, and after, right?
What does that mean for you and why am I writing this? Because both events were foundational to the rest of my life and taught me these lessons:
You don’t get back time
Save for what is important to you and then spend the money on those things
If you have a real goal, take real and actionable steps to make it happen
You’d be surprised what your job, friends, and family will accept if you just ask
Take the sabbatical.
Ask your kids what inspires them and then go do that.
Do something that seems a little crazy… until you get started.
Do interesting things. Be interesting.
P.S. I hope that you will indulge me for the next year as I focus on a pet project that aligns with Destined Globetrotter. Bill and I have a deactivated website from our original around-the-world trip (it got corrupted). I have PDF files and printouts of that original blog where we did AMAZING bucket list travel. I hope to re-publish in its entirety over the next year as well as focus on new content and services. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that it’s very clear what’s old, what’s new and update it where I can.