Around The World
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. ~ Mark Twain I love travel. Travel has been, and always will be, an integral part of my life. And I think there are very few things that have shaped my view of the world more than seeing so much of it. And I know there are very few things that have shaped my view of how we are more alike than different more than getting to know so many people around the world. I’m consistently struck by how we all love the same. How boundaries don’t change who people fundamentally are. I think Wayne Dyer puts it well: When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides. My father had felt the same way about travel when he was younger. He wanted to see the world, so he joined the U.S. Army as soon as he could. He then went on to spend the next twenty years in Europe, and I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. While I was growing up, we moved to several different cities within Germany and did a lot of traveling and camping throughout Europe. I remember camping out in tents set up by the side of the road and <I, now a passionate vegan, cringe here> cooking Spam over a fire. And, um, cooking Steak Ums in a campsite kitchen. It was low budget travel, but we got to see a whole lot that way. And I don’t remember ever seeing it like that anyway. I just look back and think that it was pretty cool my mom and dad made such an effort to do that much exploring with three young kids in tow, especially now that I really understand all the effort involved in it. One of those campsite photos of my dad with at least two of us. I’m the one on the right ; ) I think it’s extra cool that that’s exactly what we do now. We moved to the U.S. when I was almost eleven years old. We kept moving after that, every couple of years or so, even when my dad had retired after 22 years in the military. I joined a study abroad program while in college, in France – and I used a student class Eurail Pass to travel to various cities on the weekends. I loved sitting in the window of a train, listening to music, reading books, and planning what I’d do when I got to wherever there was. After graduation, I kinda just kept going. I accepted a 100% travel position as a management consultant, then finally ended up in San Francisco five years later. About a year after my husband and I got married, we both took a leave of absence and took a 4-month backpacking trip. This wasn’t an easy sell at first. My husband and I’d had pretty different upbringings – he actually hadn’t even been on a plane for the first 18 years of his life and had hardly left New Jersey. That changed as he got older, but this was a bit different. He came around, though, and we bought Around The World tickets. We cashed in on all the consultant miles we’d racked up and traveled across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America. The deal with the Around The World tickets was you could go wherever on earth you wanted, as long as you traveled East to West without backtracking. We loved it; we had a few rough scrapes; I got dangerously ill, for weeks, from taking a chance on a mango when I shouldn’t have; and we fell into a bit of an an extreme pattern with our accommodations. We’d spent 3 weeks staying in hostels, in tents, huts, we even slept above pigs – and then we’d use our hotel points to check into a 4-star hotel for one night. We got to do that about five times over the course of our four months. And every time, we maxed out every hour we could spend there – long, hot showers, breakfast buffets, fluffy robes. They were the same kind of places I’d stayed in as a consultant – but I saw it very differently when we traveled. I guess any form of luxury is far better appreciated when it feels earned. A few years later, with our 9-month old daughter, we moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where we live now. We kept our travel mostly domestic after that – not hard with so much to see in this country – and we focused on building our separate businesses. And we were pretty heads down with a new baby (!) and then the rather exhausting work of startups (!), and then a new son (!) – until it came time to spend two months in Ecuador to adopt our daughter (!) in 2008. The year after that was quite a year – and, well, a whole separate post. But, after that, we kinda just fell back into it, making the decision to travel for a couple months as a family every single year. I get asked if it’s tough to travel with kids. At this point, we’ve taken them around the world, but in chunks at a time – they’ve already spent time in much of the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and more and yet there’s still so very, very many places to go. Is it tough? When all three of our kids are loaded up with their backpacks, and we’re hustling them on to trains or off of planes or imploring them to pack up so we can get going, I sometimes start to wonder if this is more work than its worth. When we’re sorting out travel itineraries and lodging and booking tickets, I often feel like it’s extraordinarily time-consuming just to prepare, before anything even starts. And the cost. Even with as much experience as we have finding good travel deals, and I have a passion for that – yeah, it’s an investment in experience, no doubt. But there’s no question how much we get out of traveling as a family. There’s no doubt it brings us closer. And I love to look at them when they see something totally brand new. I love when they show me something later in one of their school books that they’ve seen with their own eyes on one of our trips. I love watching them with their little packs and their individual roller bags and the little stuffed animals they bring along the way. I love how every new spot is home simply because we are there, all together. If the question is, is it tough – the answer is yes. If the question is, is it worth it – probably no surprise here: oh, most definitely. Most very definitely, definitely. I tend to travel pretty light when it comes to photography gear on extended trips, bringing along exactly what I need and using it as creatively as possible. Because, on the one hand, I don’t want to get bogged down in gear – on the other hand, there’s no way I want to miss capturing these instant memories. Since traveling around the world has been, and will always continue to be, such a significant part of my life – and now our lives – I decided to finally create a gallery to show some of the photographs I’ve taken along the way. It will take me a while to get it fully “stocked”, but I at least have a fairly good start. Feel free to check out my new Around The World gallery. More coming soon.