Last Updated on January 3, 2017
It’s been a wacky ride these last few months. In late June, I returned home from traveling through Panama with my dad and my niece and I entered a transition period … or I extended the transition I talked about earlier this year. I hunkered down here in Florida to refocus on projects I have had in the wings for a very long time. When I actively travel, I often don’t look into the future and work on my long-term goals. This is a trade-off of long-term travel, but one I have never bemoaned because I am so grateful for these years on the road. But it is a limitation inherent in constantly switching homes, cities, and countries for months on end over the past nearly five years.
I focused on two goals: speaking to students about global citizenship and officially launching Grassroots Volunteering. Within a few weeks of preparing my fall to include both these goals, I found out big news: National Geographic was naming me one of their Travelers of the Year! Two weeks later, Shenandoah University and the University of Central Florida invited me to speak about travel and entrepreneurship to their students.
A happy dance ensued, and on the heels of elation was panic. Life started moving faster than I had anticipated when I set in motion these plans, and it overwhelmed me. I’ve caught up, though, and I moved back into the happy dance mode as these positive events allow me to further spread my twin goals of encouraging travel and service.
I’d love to share with you a bit more about the NatGeo honor, upcoming speaking dates, and my travel plans.
National Geographic Traveler of the Year
NatGeo honored me as a 2013 Traveler of the Year. They interviewed me here, and there will also be a photo spread and piece in the November issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
The backbone of the Traveler of the Year program is to honor those who have traveled with passion and purpose. They selected the winners from the 1,500+ nominations, and they chose me to highlight my work these past two years in the social enterprise and volunteering front; namely my book, The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook, and Grassroots Volunteering, which I’ll detail in a post later this week outlining the backstory and motivations for building the site and community.
Each winner (there are ten of us) has shared travel in a unique way. As I look through the other winners it humbles me to be among them; my friend Benny, from Fluent in 3 Months, is recognized for his work encouraging travelers to learn local languages as they travel. One winner runs a Nomad Clinic every year to the remotest areas of the Himalaya, and another is illustrating the transformative power of travel regardless of physical ability. I am in inspiring company and I encourage you to read through the profiles of the others too! :)
I have often written about my intention to work with students and youth as a way to encourage an expanded worldview and motivate them to dream big and travel young. Though I have Skyped in with middle school classrooms, and spoken at industry events, this year I am honing in on the students and youth I believe are ripe for a conversation about the power of travel. This fall I have two events lined up so far:
- On November 13th I will speak at Shenandoah University, a private University in Winchester, VA. This year, they asked me to speak at International Convocation, om which is when the 60 lucky students and faculty find out where in the world they’re traveling on spring break (they apply to the school’s Global Citizenship Project without knowing the destinations and winners could end up traveling anywhere!).
- Throughout the fall I am working with my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, and their startup LaunchPad to help students with social enterprise development. Last week, I spoke about growth of this site, my consulting business, and the Grassroots site. I’ll be back in Orlando many times over the coming months at various events, so check my Facebook page if your keen for an Orlando meetup.
A Bit of Housekeeping:
- I talked with Canada’s the Globe and Mail about international volunteering.
- Australia’s largest new site loved my post about solo female travel; with some rejiggering News.com.au featured it last week.
- The ALA Newsletter comes out this week and readers seemed to jibe with it … you might too! I share personal updates, great links I’ve read that month, and any travel news or interesting tidbits from the month, as well as giveaways when possible.
Travel Plans and Moving Forward
November 4th is my five-year travel-anniversary. This was a light year of travel for me, with just Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama throughout the spring and summer. Going forward, I more evenly divide my travels between the US and the road, a change from the pattern over the past five years. This will allow me to continue working with youth and students—through speaking, workshops, and still through the classrooms that invite me in to Skype with them. I always thought one day I might become a teacher, but this is a happy medium for me to combine my years on the road with a my affinity for working with youth. I am also working on a new book, a travel memoir now in the book proposal stage (and thus, telling you that I’m working on it is a terrifying form of accountability).
Going forward, I am not married into any travel plans, though Africa is the big dream and it’s looking like February as my next big trip (Mexico may happen before then). These next months will include speaking, working, and enjoying my friends. It’s a nice balance and I like being home long enough to make plans months in the future (in January my best friend Niki and I are running the Disney Marathon in Orlando—it’ll be my first one and I am half-way through the training program!).
Next up on the blog is a big post talking about my other site, then back to travel stories! :)
As ever, I thank you for the support. If you can make it out to anything I have going on in the next few months, I would love to meet up!
Cheers and thanks,