Why travel?

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

Today is the big day! Our adventure of traveling the world for 6 months begins. Glenn actually left a couple of days ago to visit the town he grew up in – Bishop, California. Today I’m headed to Napa Valley to reunite with some amazing women I used to work with in college. Glenn and I will reconnect in a few days for a brief visit to New York, then on to Ecuador!

Glenn headed off to begin the adventure without me - traveling back to his old stomping grounds of Bishop, California.

Glenn headed off to begin the adventure – traveling back to his old stomping grounds of Bishop, California.

I’m exhausted.

It turns out that preparing to step away from the day-to-day for an extended period of time is an awful lot of work! So many details to take care of. How will the car insurance get paid while I’m gone? Is the credit card on file at the vet? Does the furnace need serviced? Who will water my office desk plants? Do I need a vaccine for Yellow Fever? We’d get two things marked off our “to do” list, and three new ones would appear.

Getting our travel vaccines - never fun!

Getting our travel vaccines – never fun! (you’ll be seeing a lot of this shirt…one of a few Glenn has packed)

I wanted to get one last Pacific Northwest hike in with the dogs. It's going to be a while before I see a landscape like this again.

I wanted to get one last Pacific Northwest hike in with the dogs. It’s going to be a while before I see a landscape like this again.

This is everything I'm taking with me for the next 6 months. I'm still working on how to get Honeydew into one of the packs.

All packed! This is everything I’m taking with me for the next 6 months. I’m still working on how to get Honeydew into one of the packs.

But, what’s done is done. And what’s not done is…

I can’t worry about it now. Now, I need to keep my eyes looking forward. But, not so far forward that I miss the amazing things that are about to unfold right before me.

I have no doubt that this trip is going to be like nothing I have ever experienced before. This isn’t going to be one of our typical vacations. No doubt Glenn and I will come back with grand stories to tell and pictures to share; but we will also come back changed. Changed in the way we see ourselves, changed in the way we see each other and our relationship, and changed the way we see the world.

Every time Glenn and I take a trip I come back with a new perspective or a new appreciation for how others live, think and feel. I tuck these little epiphanies away in the treasure chest of my soul and find that they shape how I move through the world going forward.

For example, many years ago we did a hiking tour of the islands of Greece. I was shocked to learn about how much of their heritage had been stolen, plundered and destroyed not just by invaders, but also scholarly archeologists and private collectors. Their stolen artifacts are scattered across the globe, many on display in prestigious museums, never to be returned (despite repeated requests by the Greeks). Never again will I view cultural artifacts in a museum (especially Native American artifacts) without questioning the right of that institution to have those items in their possession.

I was shocked to learn that many of the artifacts in the museums in Greece are replicas because the originals were stolen.

I was shocked to learn that many of the statues in the museums in Greece are replicas because the originals were stolen.

Our trip to Ireland gave me an appreciation for hard it is, especially in this day and age, to keep a culture alive. We toured through a Gaeltacht region – an area where the Irish language (i.e. Gaelic) is still spoken. Many Irish families send their children to schools in these regions where they learn Gaelic through full emersion. The niece of our tour guide regaled us with hysterical stories of her escapades while being forced to attend these schools during her summers as a teenager. After a fair bit of hard cider and Guinness we attempted some traditional Irish dancing (it was similar to square dancing) at a local pub. Many of the locals had never seen or done this type of dancing; including the nice gentleman I was paired with who had just stopped in to the pub “for a pint” while waiting on his car to be repaired the next town over. In talking with many of the older folks in the area it was clear they could feel their culture – their language, their music, their dancing – slipping through their fingers.

Trying to learn traditional Irish dancing...which we then had to go perform for the locals in the pub. It wasn't pretty! (Glenn is in the green shirt)

Trying to learn traditional Irish dancing…which we then had to go perform for the locals in the pub. It wasn’t pretty! (Glenn is in the green shirt)

In Vietnam I was struck by the deepness of their familial bonds. They worked so hard – doing truly backbreaking work – to make a better life for their families, especially their children. And the children in Vietnam were the happiest, most cherished children I have ever encountered. As we rode our bikes through rural villages the children would run out to the road to give us high-fives. Their joy absolutely bubbled to the surface and came out in huge face-splitting grins and giggles that traveled for miles. Even though most of these families were living in great poverty, they were clearly wrapped in love and a deep and abiding commitment to one another unlike anything I have ever seen.

Glenn giving high-fives to the exuberant  children as we rode past.

Glenn giving high-fives to the exuberant children as we rode past.

My friend Kim recently posted a journal entry about traveling and it really spoke to me, especially this last bit: “Yes, yes, it is a blessing to travel. But it is more of a blessing to step out of your skin, away from yourself, into a fresh place or an ancient, dusty one. To be you, whoever that is, to become more you over time and miles.”

So, our bags are packed and this time next week we will be stepping off a plane in Ecuador. I can’t wait to “become more me over time and miles.”

I'm off to spend my few remaining hours with my sweet pups - they know something is amiss. I sure am going to miss them. Oh and the cats...I'll miss 2 out of 3 of them too! ;)

I’m off to spend my few remaining hours with my sweet pups – they know something is amiss and they aren’t happy about it. I sure am going to miss them. Oh and the cats…I’ll miss 2 out of 3 of them too! 😉


I’d tell you the details of what we’ll be doing in Ecuador and where we’ll be headed after that…but that would spoil the surprise! Be sure to subscribe for email alerts for new posts and/or “like” this blog’s Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss what’s next!

For those that are particularly curious about what I have packed in my bags, I’ve included the list in the comments section below. It’ll be interesting to see what I decide to ditch along the way…and what I wish I had thought to pack.

5 comments on “Why travel?

  1. Wishing you and Glenn an epic adventure. Looking forward to following your journey both physical and spiritual. Bon voyage.

  2. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for the both of you. There are going to be some hard times, and even days when you want to quit, but you will come back a changed person in the best sort of way. XO

  3. My Packing List

    Bags:
    Main pack (Osprey Meridian 22”, 60L)
    Backpack
    Small daypack
    Small travel purse
    2 compression sacks (waterproof)
    Waterproof “wet clothes” bag

    Clothes:
    5 t-shirts (2 cotton mix, 3 synthetic)
    1 long-sleeve synthetic shirt
    1 skirt
    1 blue jeans
    1 hiking pants
    2 capris
    1 shorts
    6 undies
    1 bra
    1 sports bra
    8 socks (2 liners, 2 light, 2 medium, 2 thick)

    Cold Weather:
    Down jacket
    Light windbreaker
    Raincoat
    Rain pants
    Thermal shirt
    Thermal pants
    Fleece hat
    Ear warmers
    All weather gloves
    Light gloves
    Wool hoodie (thin)

    Activity Gear:
    Waterproof trail running shoes
    Waterproof sandals
    Bike gloves
    Backpack rain cover
    4 packing cubes (1 medium rectangle, 3 long and thin)
    Wide brimmed hat
    Ball cap
    Trekking poles (two)
    Knee/patellar straps
    Empty collapsible water bag

    Electronics:
    Charging cables (numerous!)
    International adapter plugs
    3 cameras (main, underwater and GoPro)
    Mini tripod
    Phone
    iPad and keyboard case

    Other Things:
    2 small luggage locks
    Silk sleep sack
    Travel towel
    2 bandanas
    Headlamp
    Sunglasses
    Toiletries
    Foot and hand warmers
    Water treatment kit (Aquamira)
    Passport
    Extra passport photos (for Visas)
    Glasses and case
    Contacts (case and solution)
    Reusable aluminum water bottle
    Medications
    Extra cash
    Copies of important documents
    Sunscreen
    Bug repellant
    Laundry soap

Share your thoughts!