We met in kindergarten. Like our picture?
I Quit My Job to Travel the World: How the Hell Did I Get Here? by Alex
And what’s my excuse for early retirement?
Almost every summer growing up, my parents would throw my three little sisters and me in the family car and take off driving around the U.S. for weeks on end. While the cool kids I knew were hanging out at summer camps, riding bikes, and swimming at pool parties, my sisters and I were forced to endure close quarters, hang out with each other, and look out the window. For fun. But in between wishing ourselves home to play with friends and beating each other to bloody pulps in the backseat—one sister was always breathing too close to another, looking at someone the wrong way, or playing music too loud on their headset—we got to see some amaaazing things. The U.S. is such a beautiful country, and many people—even those who live there—will never really explore it. To this day, throw me in a car, turn on some kick-ass music, and I can sit for hours, just staring out the window and spacing out. Kind of scary, no? But I’m sure these family road trips are where the wanderlust started.
Somewhere along the way—I’m thinking around middle school—I got this craaazy idea that your honeymoon was your one shot to really travel around and get out to see the world. I can tell you the Grand Canyon at sunset is outrageous—the first two times. To my 12-year-old eyes, the third was just OK. I wanted exotic and foreign. So screw the wedding, I thought—I was never the girly girl who dreamt of My Big Day—I started telling people I wanted to do a year around the world for my honeymoon. I’d register for plane tickets, not gravy boats. Fun fact: This might be when people began to wish me a lot of luck with dating.
Thankfully, I’ve since come to the realization that a honeymoon is not your only chance to go abroad. (I really do not know where that original idea came from.) So over the years, I’ve traveled on my own, with friends, even with the sisters I used to beat up. I’ve made lists upon lists of must-dos and dream trips, and piled away old travel clippings and notes so I’d remember every place that ever caught my interest. But marathon trips squeezed into two weeks’ vacation time haven’t cut it in a long while, and I’ve always kept that around-the-world idea in mind—I just didn’t know when or how.
One of my sisters, who lives in Catania, Sicily, where she’s stationed with the Navy, has been after me for a couple years to come live with her. I always put it off, telling her next year, next year. But when we found out a baby girl was coming this summer, it seemed like FINALLY the kick in the butt I needed to make something happen. I started planning and researching a six-month itinerary around the baby’s arrival. A few weeks of hard-core peer pressure and numerous wine-soaked, kitchen-countertop conversations later, I had a travel buddy! In true procrastinator fashion—and with the final decision made—I quit my job, bought tickets, moved out of my apartment, and jumped on a plane in about two weeks’ time. So after two months in Italy with sister and baby, I’m meeting Alex in France so we can head out together.
AND I AM SO EXCITED!!! Ahhh! I’ve been wanting to do this trip forever! I’m finally ready, and Alex is right: It’s time! So while this ain’t no honeymoon, a friend with a backpack might be even better.
Alex, are we at 100 percent yet or what…?!