During a recent sermon, our pastor preached about not living a life of “accumulating regrets.” At that moment, my husband and I glanced at each and we both knew what the other was thinking…let’s do it. Two Southwest tickets and four weeks later, we were sitting in Bar Louie in Chicago for one of the nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events. We had just taken the first step in planning our round-the-world (RTW) journey.
There’s just something about being in a room packed full of travel junkies that is intoxicating. When my husband and I left the event, we were high as planes mid-flight. Unlike most “conferences,” there were no awkward conversations with strangers. You see, each participant’s nametag announced two important items of interest: the last place visited and the next on the list. Conversations flowed loosely and easily between people who had just met. The intoxicant: Travel Talk.
“Wow, we really should have done this 15 years ago,” was my initial reaction after spending four glorious hours with people who had really done it. By “it,” I mean extended ’round the world travel. Sixteen years ago my life was so simple. I was mid-20′s, freshly divorced with a job and an apartment. That was it. No husband, no kids, no pets, no mortgage. Unfortunately, I drank the corporate Kool-aid and decided it wasn’t the right time for such an adventure.
Fast forward to present: I’m now in my early 40′s with a 50-ish husband, three businesses between us, two middle-schoolers, a dog, a cat, and a big house. I now understand that the time is never “right.” However, the yearning to experience the world is one that comes from the core of your soul. Either it’s there, or it’s not. And here’s the kicker…if it’s there, it never goes away. Ever. All the stock options, and vacation time, and fancy kitchens won’t scratch that itch. Trust me.
Since leaving the Meet, Plan, Go! event in October, we have put the wheels in motion for our RTW journey. The first step was getting our daughters on board. It’s hard enough for two people to agree on the particulars, much less four people. Although my husband and I might do it differently if it was just the two of us, it’s not just the two of us. Everyone’s vote counts and while our 13-year-old was initially on board, she’s recently changed her mind. Nonetheless, we’re planning to start our five-month tour in October 2013, focusing on Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia. We know it is a LOT to cover in five short months, and we are prepared to let the final version unfold along the way. Based on the wise counsel of RTW veterans, we are opting to buy point-to-point tickets rather than RTW tickets. Flexibility is key.
We’re now arranging the pieces of the RTW puzzle. Remember paragraph four? It is overwhelming as a whole, so we’re breaking it into small pieces and finding solutions for each piece. Here’s what it looks like so far:
♦ Thanks to eBay and Craigslist, we are purging our excess stuff and preparing to put our house on the market in January
♦ We have sold one business, and have interim solutions in the works for the other two.
♦ We are fortunate to live in a school district that values these types of experiences. Between homeschooling resources and the girls’ teachers, we will ensure they are prepared for re-entry in the spring.
♦ Did I mention that one daughter is in the middle of orthodontic treatment? We have a solution for that, too. Our top-notch, well-traveled orthodontist has worldwide professional connections. We’ll visit orthodontists as necessary along the way.
♦ Finally, our beloved pets. This is the most difficult detail of all–logistically and emotionally. We will place them temporarily with loving foster families. We are still working on this one…
The bottom line: For every challenge, there is a work-around. It’s just a matter of identifying it. We all have a million and one reasons why the time isn’t right. However, I am writing this from the aisle seat of a LAN flight from Cusco to Lima, Peru. There is nothing like hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to remind you that so many of the world’s great experiences should not be postponed until your Golden Years. You can always work, but can you always travel?
Kellie McIntyre spent 15 years in corporate healthcare surviving on three weeks of annual vacation time. She’s now a full-time mom, part-time real estate manager, and part-time family adventure planner. Kellie and her family live in Vestavia Hills, Alabama