A Birthday Gift of Travel

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A Birthday Gift of Travel

“I can’t remember a time I’ve seen you this relaxed”, her husband said to her as soon as they landed. He couldn’t believe it. Her body language eased and her worries diminished. All things were taken care of for her so she could just exist and enjoy. She too couldn’t remember the last time this happened.

This week I spent a wonderful afternoon with a long-time friend and her three precious children. We’ve been friends for thirty years having experienced childhood, young adulthood and life as grown ups together. As we sat having a picnic lunch in the middle of my lounge room floor we tried to hold a conversation near and dear to my heart; one about the gifts of travel.

This is the year we turn forty. It seems more and more people Mat and I speak to have been opting for experiences and travel in lieu of gifts this year. My friend who has spent the last ten years focusing on raising her beautiful family chose travel as her birthday wish. Always putting her children first, she asked for a few days to spend just with her husband in a place she has never before been. Extended family travel has been a part of their lives for the past decade but amidst schedules, work, family, obligations and one quick weekend trip to the Caribbean nine years ago, there hasn’t been much time for the two of them to get away alone together.

Live, love, laugh

Live, love, laugh

Wish granted! Kept a surprise until they got to the airport, she got her wish. A few days in California, a state she had yet to step foot in, and time away with her love is what she was given, but those who have traveled before know the gift was far more than that. Her hubby handled all of the details. Even if I couldn’t hear all the specifics over the roar of her three year old and his trucks or the laughter of the six year old, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face.

Travel is a wonder all its own that doesn’t discriminate. No matter when you experience it or how, it still finds its way to add its own magic into your life. She raved about the sights in San Francisco, the scenic drive up the coast and the joy of having a chance to just sit, listen, learn and spend time with her husband sipping wine under an oak tree in Napa Valley. She was awed over the beauty of the resort, the fresh taste of the food, the relaxation she found and the ability to reconnect with her husband, nature and herself without the tug and pull of everyday life. Together, in the joys of travel, they made even more memories as a couple.

Happy birthday to my dear friend

Happy birthday to my dear friend

Whether its years in a location-independent existence, an intergenerational journey, a solo road trip or that birthday wish spent with the one you love, travel is special. Its gifts continue into the everyday existence and we are forever changed. My friend got her wish of time spent and travel experienced. She too was touched by the journey and the inner peace it often brings.

Later that afternoon we took the kids to the playground on the beach adjacent to my building. They wrote their names in the sand, slid down the slide, climbed on everything and smiled as the sun hit their faces. They played, we chatted. The gift worked it’s magic. Often it’s me talking about a trip I want to take or a place I’ve yearned to visit; but this time was different. In her own way, the travel bug too bit her. This time when I asked, “where else do you want to go”, her eyes glistened as she rattled off her list. I took pleasure in knowing that whenever she gets there and however it happens, she too will continue to experience the gifts of travel. Happy 40th birthday, my friend.

Traveler Interview #6: A Lady in London’s Julie Falconer

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Traveler Interview #6: A Lady in London’s Julie Falconer

The travel community is filled with incredibly interesting people. Julie Falconer, of A Lady in London is one of them. Research and social media has given me the opportunity to reach out to a few prominent bloggers who are living life on their own terms. Perhaps Julie’s story will inspire you to bring the gift of travel more to the forefront of your life in a way that works for you.

Interview with A Lady in London (Julie Falconer)

1.When did you get started traveling? My first trip was to England and Scotland when I was five years old. My grandmother was from Glasgow, so my mother wanted me and my brother to see her country. I started traveling on my own when I went to a language school in Nice when I was 18. I spent most weekends in European cities, and I discovered a passion for travel. Read the rest of this entry

Home for the Holidays

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Celebrating Passover

Celebrating Passover

Most of the time (in our dating/married life together), we’ve been away from New York for the Passover holiday, but this one is different. Last year, I purchased my matzoh at a Chabad house on Kaosarn Road in Bangkok, Thailand and on the first night, delivered a box to a friend who had recently moved overseas. Nothing on a grand scale, but a gesture that meant just as much. Most of our Passover holiday 2013 was spent in India trying to dodge the most delicious smelling naan until the end of the holiday when I happily dove in to my fair share of tasty bread products. There have been years spent lugging half broken matzoh pieces through the airport to eat with delicious Dulce de Leche on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, or layering with our trusty travel squeeze bottle of Vegemite in Hong Kong. I’ve schlepped homemade mondelbread through countless customs check points and hoped that the chocolate covered matzoh wouldn’t melt in my backpack. We’ve done our best to make the travel version of religious/national holiday celebrations work for us to be able to have them both in our lives. Read the rest of this entry

Traveler Interview #5: Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere

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Traveler Interview #5: Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere

The travel community is filled with incredibly interesting people. Gary Arndt, of Everything-Everywhere is one of them. Research and social media has given me the opportunity to reach out to a few prominent bloggers who are living life on their own terms. Perhaps Gary’s story will inspire you to bring the gift of travel more to the forefront of your life in a way that works for you.

Interview with Everything-Everywhere (Gary Arndt)

1.When did you get started traveling? I began traveling full time on March 13, 2007.

2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent existence? I wasn’t thinking of location independence per se. I just wanted to travel around the world and see things.

3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? I get the freedom to go where I want, when I want and see all that the world has to offer. I don’t listen to nay-sayers.

4.How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent life? I had money from selling my home and my business. It took me a little under 2 years from coming up with the idea to getting on the road. Most of that time was spent trying to sell my house.

5.How do you choose your destinations and for how long you’ll stay? What type of accommodations do you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? I pick places based on my desire to visit. I seldom stay in one place longer than a week or two and am usually moving constantly. For example, in 2013 I visited 44 countries. I normally stay in hostels or guesthouses as they are cheap. I don’t use any particular resource. I just look for places online and ask other people.

6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? There is no answer to this question. It is totally dependent on where you live and how much moving around you do. The answer for Switzerland will be very different than the answer for Thailand. The minimum is probably $1,000/month

7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? You don’t really. There is no need to retire from this lifestyle.

8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base? I use my mother’s home as a mailing address. It really isn’t that difficult as many things can be done online.

9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? No idea. It depends more on business opportunities and cost. My problem is that I always want to go somewhere else after a few weeks.

10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent lifestyle? Make sure it is really something you want to do. It isn’t all glamorous. Most people actually couldn’t stand to do it for more than few months.

Find out more about Gary and his ’round the world travels at Everything-Everywhere.

The Watering Hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia

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Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park, Namibia

“Be quiet, shhhh” are the only whispers you hear. Seated on hard wooden benches are hundreds of people. We have headlamps around our necks, torches in our pockets, canteens next to us and cameras in our hands. We wait. As the sun sets, the horizon is set ablaze in hues of red and orange. The colours change as quickly as the scene. It’s cable television live, in colour and directly in front of us. Even the youngest children are silent. You can hear a pin drop.

We sit at the Watering Hole in Etosha National Park. Namibia’s premier park for animal citing and game drive viewing has campsites, a pool a restaurant and this, the watering hole. “I could stay here for days”, we both say to each other simultaneously knowing that if we could, we would. Within the first minutes we know we have to return someday. Each day people come and sit for hours. Sunrise, daylight, sunset, night-it doesn’t matter the time or the weather-they wait.

Zebras having a drink

Zebras having a drink

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Traveler Interview #4: Caroline Makepeace of yTravel Blog

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Interview with ytravelblog (Caroline Makepeace)

Makepeace family- y Travel Blog

Makepeace family- y Travel Blog

1.When did you get started traveling? When I was at University, my brother moved to London to work and travel Europe. I was captivated by his stories and knew I wanted the same adventurous and carefree life. 3 days after I graduated from University in 1997, I jumped on a plane to work in London and travel. I’ve pretty much been traveling ever since.

2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent existence? There just isn’t any other life my soul yearns for. It’s so used to living a life on its own terms that I can’t settle for anything else. I love to have complete control over how every day looks. If for whatever reason my heart and soul decides it needs to live in Bali to learn and grow more than I want the freedom to follow that urge. Read the rest of this entry

60 Hours in Istanbul

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60 Hours in Istanbul: Where Worlds Meet

Welcome to Istanbul!

Welcome to Istanbul!

Mat and I shared the air with Istanbul, Turkey for two days last April (his 2nd visit to the city, and my 1st). Divided by the Bosphorus River, Asia sits on one side and Europe on the other. This truly is the center of the world. Turkish Airlines carried us to and from this beautiful land of intriguing individuals, colourful carpets and flavourful foods to feed your soul. Take a journey with us to Istanbul.

Efes beer in istanbul

Efes beer in istanbul

Our Visit Begins

We purchase our visas (at the airport) and for the first time in our traveling life together, an Aussie visa actually costs more than one on an American passport ($65 US for his and $20 US for mine). The faces may change, the religious dress varies and the uniform of those behind the counter is different but the pound of the stamp hitting the ink-pad and then your passport is a welcome sound that never gets old! Read the rest of this entry

24 Hours on an Egyptian Felucca

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Our Felucca

Our Felucca

“I’ll sleep on the outside, closest to the land so you don’t get too many mossie bites”, said my kind husband. Fast-forward to the next morning after being covered by bug spray inside and out of my sleeping bag and the Aussie has no bites and I have twenty-two including seven on my face. Argh, the joys of traveling!

The banks of the Nile River

The banks of the Nile River

During a nine-day gAdventures tour in Egypt in 2009, we spent one memorable full day and overnight on a felucca. Our vessel was a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat piloted by one wrinkly man who spent much time enjoying the smoke of his personal shisha pipe. We left from the dock of our hotel on the Nile River and traveled for hours just checking out our surroundings. We saw scrawny cows on the river banks guided by their keepers, heard endless sounds of wildlife in the air and on land and relished in the clear sunshine-filled blue sky overhead above our canopy that kept our mattress covered boat shaded and cool. Mayer (our guide) gave us a goal for the day. Our job is to ‘lay like starfish’ and just exist…and so we did.

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The Edventure Project : Traveler Interview #3

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The travel community is filled with incredibly interesting people. If you’ve ever thought about living, working, continuous travel and education with your family in tow – Jennifer Miller of The Edventure Project is the one to talk to. Traveling for many years and educating her family in the world’s continents and communities, Jennifer shares her story with me. Here she talks about life on the road and education in the global classroom.

The Miller Family in their travels

The Miller Family in their travels

Interview with The Edventure Project (Jennifer Miller)

1.When did you get started traveling? We took off traveling in spring 2008. We set off to cycle in Europe and N. Africa for a year… and just kind of kept going!

2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? Our first year we were traveling on money we had saved. When the US economy crashed in the fall of 2008 the money we’d saved disappeared and we were left with a decision to make: Go home and get jobs, or find some new way to support ourselves. Ultimately, we headed to Tunisia, lived cheap for 3 months and worked on expanding our options. At the time, it seemed like a terrible thing to have happening. In retrospect it was one of the best things that could have happened because it forced creativity in a way that traveling along according to our plan might not have. It forced us to ask some fundamental questions about what we wanted from our lives and careers. Read the rest of this entry

Interview #2: Elana Duffy of Team Rubicon (Disaster Relief ‘traveler’)

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The travel community is filled with incredibly interesting people. All are dreamers, doers, travelers and some make it their business to be a constant source of good and change in the world. Elana and I met after Hurricane Sandy. We were connected through a new not for profit, Race2Rebuild founded by our mutual friend after the hurricane. We met and connected through volunteer work, disaster relief and a joint sense of adventure. Like many of the fabulous disaster relief personnel that we have been honoured to meet and work with, Mat and I believe Elana is a super hero. She may not see the cape she wears, but we do. She has had her share of ‘travel’ and shares what she believes to be some of its many gifts. Without question, she has brought her gift to thousands. Thanks, Lana. 

Photo Credit: Chris Ryan, Team Rubicon

Photo Credit: Chris Ryan, Team Rubicon

Interview with Elana Duffy, Field Operations Manager, Team Rubicon Region II

1.What/when was the first disaster to which you had to ‘travel’? With which organization were you traveling with on the mission? (ie; FEMA, Homeland Security, Team Rubicon) The answer to the first disaster to which I had to travel really depends on the definition of disaster, and I suppose on the definition of travel. With the Army, I saw Afghanistan and Iraq, Qatar and Romania, Germany and Hawaii. I lived in Europe and spent every long weekend knocking another country off the list. Upon leaving the service, two itches still needed to be scratched: the insatiable need to continue service and the bite of the travel bug. With Team Rubicon I found an ointment for both, and the disaster response travel began. After several months of local travel to cut downed trees, clear debris, and hang sheetrock in nearby northeastern states, I journeyed to Moore, Oklahoma in June 2013 after two subsequent F5 tornadoes hit the town leveling entire neighborhoods.

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