About two years ago I read a story about a family who drove from Argentina to Alaska. I was intrigued. I knew of single people and couples who were traveling long term, but this family made travel seem possible for me, a wife and mom to three young children. I was about 37 years old and it had never before occurred to me that my family of five could choose our own path.
This family’s story was remarkable, but I assumed it was unique. I doubted there were many other families traveling this way.
I was wrong.
I began to read about family after family doing extraordinary things; biking across countries, living in remote parts of the world, experiencing new cultures, sleeping in tents. Some of these families had a child or two, some had four or six or more. There were babies, young children and teenagers. There were children with disabilities. Some were traveling from a home base, some sold it all and never looked back.
I quickly learned there was no formula for following the dream of travel. There are a million ways to do it. With every story I read, I learned a new way to make it happen. I have lived vicariously through these inspiring families for the last two years, dreaming of a day when my family might join them. But choosing your own adventurous path is certainly not easy, especially when you have now been following a well worn one for 39 years.
So while I have dreamed, I have stayed entrenched in the life I have always lived; house, car, yard, kids in public school, husband working 9-5 (or 6 or 7), weekend trips, a few weeks of vacation a year, too many material possessions, etc.
It is easier this way. I am safe here from the big, scary world. Even though I often feel like I am being crushed under the weight of it, I am obligated to continue the discomfort. You see, I have to stay here and hold that weight up. I am just the right size to do so. I don’t have to grow or change or learn anything new. I don’t have to push past my fears. I don’t have to fly. And for the last two years, this has been acceptable. Because these traveling people are just characters in stories. I understand in a way that they are real, but from my cozy house in the my little part of the world (where I have lived my entire life), they don’t seem very real. They must have super human abilities. They must be stronger, smarter, more brave, wealthier. They must be something different from what I am.
Except they’re not.
Last weekend, at the Meet Plan Go event in New York City, I met a room full of people. They were nice and smart and I’m sure they all had a variety of great skills. But they were not super human. There were no magical powers. These were ordinary people who made the decision to do extraordinary things. They came out from under their weights. They learned new skills, they changed, they grew. They experienced the world.
So, it is no longer possible to pretend that these travelers aren’t real, that long term travel isn’t possible, that travel requires hitting the lottery, that the world is too unsafe, that material possessions matter more than experiences, that I need to continue to follow the comfortable path I have walked this far.
For me, Meet Plan Go was my first opportunity to meet long term travelers in person, to hear them tell their stories first hand, to learn from them during personal conversations. It was proof that anyone can take a travel break or travel forever without their lives imploding. It was proof that I can too. This is reality.
The people walking down that path which leads from fantasy to reality aren’t super human or magical, but they are pretty bad ass. And I totally want to join them.
- Not so high
- Journey South