As a young woman, I’d always dreamed to travel to as many countries as possible and make our world a better place. It bothered me though, that I could never figure out how to ignite this inner fire and make it happen.
I went through my years desperately trying to hone in on this passion of mine and do something good with it and I became frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how to succeed in doing so.
For the better part of my late teens and early twenties, I traveled. After having completed 3.5 years of college, I booked a one way ticket and traveled across four continents and 26 countries.
I had $2,000 dollars to my name but I found a way to keep going; sleeping in train stations, sweeping floors, whatever it took. I ended up living in 8 countries from the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, to Turkey, to London. Being an entrepreneur, I decided to start my first virtually based business.
I would walk into luxury boutique hotels, show them my website, and advise them on LEED initiatives and energy efficiency in order to enhance their business. I taught myself how to succeed as a Sustainability Consultant.
After coming back to the states, I realized that one really needs a Master’s degree in order to have a business performing professional consulting services, which I did not have. Feeling the need to for a complete change, I moved to Washington DC and worked a sales job, which completely disconnected me from my priorities.
Eventually I gravitated back to that inner fire. It only took six months before I was running around in a jungle in Panama trying to survive primitively in front of a bunch of cameras for Discovery Channel.
It was this experience that made me realize my personal desperation of needing to craft the best life for myself, as opposed to allowing others to lead it for me.
I became terrified as I envisioned myself at 80 years old, having not lead the life that I wanted while working towards making someone else’s dream a reality.
I studied historical figures that had made a difference by putting aside society’s limitations and following their dreams. In the end they may have died, but they were able to make a positive and lasting impression on the world for generations to come.
In moments of desperation, I came back to those thoughts that I visualized as an adolescent; that I needed to travel to every country and not change, but enhance our world.
That was a year and a half ago when I was at the lowest point in my life, working two jobs at 85 hours a week, and totally burnt out. Though I enjoyed what I was doing and where I was living, I wasn’t furthering my career in any way, shape or form.
It was then that I decided to drive to the office supply store and buy large map of the world. After pinning it to my wall and staring at it for a good week with a childlike sense of wonder, I decided to quit one of my jobs and start drawing lines connecting every country in the world to one another.
It was a long and tedious month where I had to ease out of my social life in order to fully engage in the planning and execution of this trip.
I didn’t tell anyone about it until I had my map all planned out and a solidified strategy in place.
Through a great deal of work, I was able to make this dream a reality.
I received endorsement from the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism, obtained an accomplished team of supporters, accumulated sponsors, appeared in the press, and I was invited to attend the IIPT World Symposium in Johannesburg and then the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Madrid shortly thereafter.
I watched this tame, inner flame grow into a wildfire and it was all because of my decision to be fueled by my fears rather than run away from them.
Flash forward to the launch of Expedition 196, I was so excited at the opportunity to make a difference in our world and I was also excited to travel to every country.
Now, almost two months and 18 countries in, my priorities have shifted for the better. I want nothing more than to give myself to the lives of others and our world.
The initial goal of traveling to every single country is not nearly as meaningful as was at the start. Looking into the eyes of the youth and hearing them realize their potential and limitless possibilities through listening to me speak — this is what I live for.