They told us it would take months, if not a year, to readjust to life after a journey around the world. Nine months and 26 days later, I can attest: They. Were. Right.
Last week marked the two year anniversary of our departure for our 14-month around the world journey. If I didn’t know it then, I certainly know it now. Life as we knew it would never be the same. While we’ve spent a good part of 2011 putting our travels aside, planting some roots and focusing on the next chapter of our life back Stateside, the truth is it doesn’t quite work that way. Our travels, and lessons learned on the road, have become a part of our daily lives.
We now have a place to call home. Our packs collect dust on our basement floor and no one-way transcontinental ticket sits folded up in our back pocket. But we’re finding ourselves re-inspired to share our stories, your stories…of those travel moments that define us.
This gust of re-inspiration to dream up our next adventure and immerse ourselves in our travels once again comes primarily from a grassroots campaign called Meet Plan Go! (founded by fellow travel bloggers and adventurers Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter). We were invited to speak last week at Meet Plan Go!’s national lecture series. The travel seminar, whose mission is to put a career break on every resume, was held simultaneously in 17 cities across the country. From Honolulu to New York and several places in between, travelers gathered to share their stories and inspire others to hit the road. At home in Chicago, we were joined by a panel of like-minded travelers: Dave Nilson who just returned from a year and half jaunt across the globe, Katy Healy fresh off the road from a six month global sojourn and Keith Savage, who spends a good part of the year exploring the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. To add to the mix, we even had a panelist Skype in from her hotel room in Russia.
As we shared tales and tips from our global journeys, 100 wander-lustful faces, in search of their own adventures, stared back at us. For the first time in a long time, we weren’t the ‘crazy ones.’ Surrounded by travelers in a cooking school auditorium overlooking a misty Chicago skyline, I was brought back to the moments when rehashing travel tales with like-minded friends was a daily ritual… I’m on a sun-kissed Rajasthani rooftop sharing a piping hot pot of masala chai with a family of stranger-cum-friends. Under the waning moon and bright-starry night, I’m sipping on kava in the company of some wanderlust souls. I’m cooking up a braii of burgers with pairs of safari sun-burnt faces amidst the snorting sound of hippos calling. I’m in a buzzing tree-lined alleyway sipping on frosty Tsingtao beers with a slew of perpetual travelers. I’m snacking on yak cheese bread with a team of global nomads under a tin roof pummeled by the Himalayan rains…A thousand miles away, I feel at home.
We spent a good half of our around the world journey trying to explain to others why Americans don’t travel. We battled the typical “Only 10 percent of Americans have passports?” questions and frequent befuddled faces after revealing our US citizenship and long-term travel plans. After leaving this year’s Meet Plan Go! event, however, I was hopeful. 1200 attendees across the country with dreams of traveling the world? Perhaps the time is just around the corner when excuses will lay to rest.
As Steve Jobs put it: “Here’s to the crazy ones.”