Last week I shared my retirement traveling dream: to live as a native, three months at a time, in London, Paris, Italy and New York City. While I have not yet set a date for this dream … I do think it will happen within the next ten years. There will be intermittent trips between now and then, to be sure, but it will take a few years to accrue the necessary money as well as the extensive time-off.
Over the weekend, however, I was made aware of a couple who is living this lifestyle – and I am absolutely thrilled for them because it means that my dream can become my reality. They have released a book today, Home Sweet Anywhere, which I pre-ordered and should have by Thursday. I plan to carve out time over the holiday to savor each chapter and (hopefully) write a review next week.
In the meantime, I thought I might share a few milestone moments in my traveling career that has served to fuel this wanderlust passion. This week I will focus on the trip to London in 20007.
As I have mentioned in the About Me section, my desire to travel began at the age of eight when I listened intensely to the tales of a Junior Year Abroad. I was mesmerized by the pictures, postcards and experiences of living in another country for an entire year. I vowed that I one day I would do that too.
Nine years later I was boarding a plane, with fifteen other Weston High School students, to spend a few days in Paris before traveling to the south of France to spend three weeks with a native family. It wasn’t quite a year abroad, but it was a sweet taste that whet my appetite for more.
In college I majored in French and had all intentions of pursuing that year abroad but…. I met the man of dreams and decided to marry instead. I was grateful for the month I spent overseas in high school, and I knew that we would one day travel together.
Three years later we planned a two-week tour of the Loire Valley wineries. I researched chateaux to visit, bed-and-breakfasts to stay, other attractions to view along the way. It was the fall of 1985 and we planned to travel in the summer of 1986. But….we became pregnant and the trip was put on hold to start the family that I had dreamed of.
Over the course of seven years, one child eventually became three and quite frankly, the idea of traveling never entered my mind again. I had the month in high school and I was completely satisfied. My passion now resided at home with my family.
But it’s funny: a heart’s desire may go dormant, but it never truly dies. And I believe if that desire is from the Lord, then it will indeed come true in due time. In my case, it took about thirty years.
Fast forward to the fall, 2006. I had been teaching for three years, but mostly elementary and junior high grammar. That year I was asked to teach British Literature – a subject that I am convinced I never took myself. I was a nervous wreck and felt inferior the entire first semester. I managed to make it through Shakespeare relatively unscathed, but I still had to teach Jane Austen and Charles Dickens – a monumental task.
I remember driving home on a Friday afternoon pondering this situation when out-of-the-blue I had an idea: if only I could visit the homes where these authors wrote – learn their life story by seeing their environment – I might begin to relate to their work in a way that would help me instruct the students.
I then extrapolated further, deciding that it would be even better if the students could see these cultural landmarks for themselves. Fondly recalling the trip I took in high school, I came home and immediately began searching the internet for teacher/student tours. I found EF Tours, spoke in depth to the sales consultant, and on Monday morning I was promoting the trip.
Our group was small, a total of thirteen students and two chaperones, but we had a blast. We visited Windsor Castle and Jane Austen’s home in Bath. We took a tour of the Globe Theater in London and visited Shakespeare’s house in Stratford. We attended a Medieval dinner, similar to what they might have experienced in the days of Geoffrey Chaucer, and got an aerial view of the city from the London Eye. We even stopped in the middle of the highway to visit Stonehenge (I had no idea it was so precariously situated). In all, it was a delightful if not exhausting six day tour.
And as we were flying back home I realized: my dream to travel overseas had been resurrected. And this short visit gave that dream life again.
I led another group of six students to London the following year and in March, 2015, I will be leading a group of 30 students and five chaperones on a two-week tour of London, Paris, Florence, Rome, and Pompeii. I am privileged to share with this trip of-a-lifetime with so many students, and I hope that perhaps this might ignite a traveling passion within them.