Doug Decides To Travel

Chamonix, France

There are only a few moments in my life when I can remember the exact instant that I made a momentous decision about my future.  As 1997 was coming to a close, I had left my former software company, after ten years as President and part-owner, and had decided to move to Australia.  That's not the decision I am talking about here - that had been a dream for many years.

As a prelude to actually moving there, I wanted to make a "scouting" trip, to see what it was like (since I had never been), and to gather information about immigration requirements, cost of living, and so forth.

My departure was set for January 18, 1998; the trip would last three weeks.  Steve, fellow-juggler and jump-rope partner (see TJS), decided to tag along just for fun.  We wanted keep the cost of the trip as low as possible, and thought we might try "hosteling" while we were there.  Steve suggested we attend a free budget-travel seminar being offered by TravelFest (in Austin).

So, the Wednesday before our scheduled departure, we showed up promptly at 7:00 for the one-hour seminar, hosted by two women who had both traveled extensively in their early twenties.  The eldest of the two started by saying, "When I was twenty, I left with a ticket to New Zealand, and a hundred and fifty dollars in my pocket, and returned a year and a half later."  If that's not traveling on a budget, I don't know what is.

They went on to tell how they got odd jobs along the way (not always legal, mind you) to finance their travels and, at times, even had to return to the U.S. to work and save for a while before departing again.  They told many interesting stories - some good, some not so good - about their adventures abroad.

It was about half-way through this seminar that I made the decision to travel.  I figured that if these two women, at the naive age of twenty-something, could travel the world... alone - then I could certainly do it at my cynical (and cautious) age of forty-something.  Besides, I would be starting out with quite a bit more than $150 in my pocket, so I wouldn't have to work my way around the world.

After three days of information gathering in Sydney, which included a meeting with a business contact who informed me that the market for my software had not yet materialized, Steve and I decided to turn our scouting trip into a real vacation and boarded a plane to New Zealand.  After nine short days of fun and adventure in the land of the Kiwis, I had the travel bug in the worst way.  And the rest, as the say, is history.