My journey as a journeyer (yeah, I made up a word) began officially less than a year ago. In my mind, however, it started years ago.
Colleen and I fell in love with travel not too long after we fell in love with each other. Our first big trip together was simply a vacation, something everyone does. We knew it would be fun, a way to get away together alone for the first extended period of time.
We went on a Carnival Cruise out of New Orleans to Jamaica, Mexico and Grand Cayman. We had a blast, got drunk (I got too drunk in Cozumel and missed dinner, actually), saw some sting rays, got a bunch of cool pictures and had a genuinely great time.
This wasn't an "Ah ha!" vacation that set the course for our life as travelers, but it let us know we were good together and shared the same laid-back attitude about meeting new people and discovering new places.
This led to more trips (we got engaged during a trip to Vegas) and eventually a second cruise with a group of friends. My Syracuse University classmate and great buddy Brandon's 30th birthday party trip on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas brought us back to Cozumel and also stops to the Bahamas, Costa Maya and Belize.
So, that's how it began, I suppose. Since those first trips together, we now exist in either of two life states: traveling or planning travels.
But it was our Mediterranean cruise, with side trips throughout Europe, that altered our outlook on what we want out of life.
With our friend Kelly working in the Netherlands on a long-term assignment, we took advantage of the chance to enjoy Europe with her and my best friend Matt. During our time there -- visiting Amsterdam (yes, I spent time in a cafe -- no coffee, though), Belgium and Luxembourg -- we also planned a Mediterranean cruise. The Carnival Liberty took us from Rome to Naples, Florence, Venice, Sicily, Croatia, Monte Carlo and . . . Well, I think that was all the spots, but holy cow, what a jaw-dropping experience for a kid who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and thought going to Niagara Falls, Canada, counted as a big cultural exchange.
It's been about eight years since that trip, and we still can't stop talking about it. After returning stateside, we almost immediately decided to make travel a constant part of our lives.
Our goal was to experience as many of the amazing spots and interact with as many interesting people as possible before our lives slip away. I think life is too short to not make sure that you visit with friends and family and do what you love as often as possible. To make that happen, we knew we would have to undertake an ambitious fiscal plan that targeted an early retirement, while sacrificing a few (or a lot, I suppose, depending on what youâre used to) comforts or immediate "wants."
Well, we have accomplished much of that plan, so far. I'll write more about some of the exact methods we've used and some of the good luck we've had with our work in future posts.
The main thrust of what I wanted to say here is that I feel very lucky to be able to travel and see all the things I can. It truly has been a mixture of good fortune and hard work. As I get older, I know time waits for no one, so I plan to keep a smile on my face and enjoy every minute as it comes.
Hope to see your smiling faces soon.