So…I just unpacked and got my own place again after 4 years of living out of a bag and traveling around the world.
In some ways I am the typical American Gen-Xer. I went to college. I got a degree in broadcast Journalism. I went on to build my career in television. I was a director, a promotions producer/editor and a specials producer. My persistence led me from intern at Late Night with David Letterman to NBC to FOX to ABC.
I moved to Chicago in my mid-20s all excited and ready to take on the world Mary Tyler Moore-style, I bought my first condo and found myself in a committed relationship. I was going to all the cool media parties and events. Life was on a roll.
Also in my early 20s…I came down with something. An illness. I caught the travel bug. A college friend invited me to the EU to backpack with her for 3 weeks…and I was like ‘yeah, right.’
At this time, the internet was a wee lass, but I dialed up the ol’ AOL online and looked at prices for tickets (not even sure what Travel search site I used back then?) and realized…wait, I could do this. I do have the means to go. I had been working and saving for a few years. WHY NOT?
I went and fell in love…with Paris, the history, the old buildings, the character…yes, the joie de vivre (how fun is it to just so subtly touch that final ‘re’ in vivre? Okay, maybe it’s just me) and Rome and Florence and Venice and Switzerland…you get the idea.
When I returned, I vowed to try and go somewhere ‘far’ every year when I had my typical U.S. vacation of two weeks or so. And I did it…each year…going away to places like: Germany, Italy, Austria, Prague, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, and Japan.
I devoured travelogues and books. I had a small, far-off dream of living abroad someday. Before there were all these travel websites and blogs, I started subscribing to email newsletters like “Transitions Abroad”, “Student Traveler” and even received some email newsletter from a company giving tips on overseas real estate investing. I hadn’t even purchased property in the US yet!
Sometime in my early 30s, some friends of mine, who were in a serious relationship, told me they were going to work for a few more years, save up their cash and then quit their jobs to travel around the world. I think I got goose bumps. Wow. I was envious of such a plan. They were cool. They were going to be able to do that. They were so lucky. They had each other and I wished I could do that with my boyfriend. But it never even occurred to me…that I could do it. The irony of the matter is: they never did it…but I did.
In early 2005, my 11-yr old cat became ill and a year of tough treatment and care took its toll on me and him. The day came when I knew his quality of life was simply not what it should be and I had to make the tough decision to have him euthanized. Also during that same year, my boyfriend and I were growing apart and I knew it was time to call it quits. I was also growing bored with my job. Don’t get me wrong. I had a great job as a TV producer at ABC7, but nearly 10 years of doing the same thing was enough for me. I was in love with the Globetrekker series and wished to work on that show or for a Travel Channel show. At least that would still be “smart” and “secure” – to find a ‘job’ with travel. That was the responsible thing to do. I had been reading more travel memoirs and read one that year called One Year Off about a family who quit their jobs, sold their house and things and traveled around the world with their two kids for one year. I was floored. How cool was that?
That, coupled with the fact that I was more ‘detached’ than I’d been in long time…came together like a slow rising tide. Enough of envying these ‘others’– I could DO IT!
As soon as it hit me… the wheels started turning. I could sell my condo (this was before the market crash) and have the security blanket I needed for such a trip.
Then I just sped forward with the plan:
- I sold my condo in April 2006 for double what I paid for it 7 years earlier.
- My ex-boyfriend moved out by May 1.
- I started this very blog in July 2006.
- I quit my job by August 1.
- I bought a backpack at REI.
- I got vaccinations.
- I bought the first 2-3 months worth of airline tickets at STA Travel.
- I found a tenant to live in my current condo.
- I sold my car through Craigslist.
And on Oct 5, 2006, I flew out of Chicago O’Hare International to San Jose, Costa Rica and proceeded to travel around the world by myself for 15 months until January 2008 when I returned from London to New York City. And then I left again in September 2008 for Europe and the Middle East and finally returned to the States in the Spring of 2009.
For the details of the rest of that story…Click on the archives of this blog and start in the summer of 2006.