Posted by: stacylynn12 | November 28, 2010


“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu


Many months ago… years really… we began planning this trip.  First in our heads, then on paper.  Ideas were generated, crossed off, rewritten and crossed off again.  Conversations were had.    Plans were made and changed as we rolled through life.

I’m a planner.  I like to know where we are going and when.  After all, there are maps and guidebooks to buy, visas and vaccines that need to be researched and secured, packing lists to be created and of course the tickets.   Ferry, plane, train or bus – the tickets need to be purchased in order to ensure the trip is actually going to happen!

I’m not so much of a planner though that I can’t coexist with my traveling partner and husband who has a different style of preparing for a trip.  He likes to read the history section of the guidebook at home and check out a few maps but prefers to wait until he’s “arrived” to delve in further.  He’s happiest having nothing more than a general idea of where we are headed and genuinely enjoys being surprised by what he finds when we get there. We both appreciate the freedom that comes with having a limited agenda.  We rarely know where we are going to sleep until we get off the plane, train or bus. 

We’ve traveled a fair bit together and it works out just fine.  I do most of the pre – trip planning which I like.  I do the research and present the findings.  Randy, being a “go with the flow” kind of guy is usually happy going along with whatever crazy plan I have concocted.  Except sometimes, he has his own ideas.  That messes things up and we have to work through it.  Take for example, our upcoming trip. 

When we began planning this sabbatical, I wanted to get out of the good ‘ol US of A as soon as we could lock the door on our house and get to the airport.  Randy however wanted to go to Alaska.  My first thought was NO WAY.  I have traveled enough in our -albeit beloved – ’86 Vanagon with our 2 darling children to know there is NO WAY I’m spending 6 weeks in it driving to Alaska.  No thanks.  Not until we upgrade our van to an RV and our children are old enough to not need me to get up and trek to the back of the van every 12 minutes because someone has dropped a water bottle, needs a snack, needs to pee, has asked the question, “when are we going to be there?” for the umpteenth time or needs a book read to them RIGHT NOW before a huge meltdown ensues.  NO.

So how are we starting our trip?

We are going to Alaska.

There are several reasons for this decision.

  1. Alaska is certain to be spectacular, that is if we can avoid a grizzly bear attack, keep the mosquitos from eating our children whole and if our ’86 Vanagon does not leave us stranded somewhere a la “Into the Wild”.  (I’m certain this won’t happen as “Bessie” has never let us down before.)
  2. Despite knowing better, I’ve already convinced myself that the last road trip really wasn’t so difficult and that I didn’t almost go crazy trying to keep the tiny van from exploding into chaos and attempting to respond the backseat demands.
  3. I really do love a road trip, especially with my family in our van.  (I’d really never actually want to get an RV… just maybe some new curtains and a rug for Bessie!)
  4. Randy wants to do it and I like the idea of exploring Alaska too.
  5. We think the kids will dig it.
  6. One of our mantras for this trip has been “spend time not money”. 


I’ve slowly warmed up to the idea of giving it a try in part because we will be cutting off the first 1,700 miles of driving by taking the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry up the Inside Passage.  This however is not cheap.

Additionally, our lofty savings goal for this trip is a little behind schedule.  So, we are fortunate enough to have the possibility of Randy engaging in a short-term international work stint with his former employer, Ecology and Environment – an engineering firm that does environmental consulting both locally and abroad.  Negotiations are in the works and it looks good. 

The downside however is that we will have no idea where the work will be until sometime next summer at the earliest.  How am I supposed to buy maps and books?  How can I research what visas and vaccines we need?  I can’t possibly create packing lists and how on earth can I buy tickets and thus ensure the trip is going to happen if I don’t know where we are going?

I had hoped to have the tickets purchased by the end of 2010.  This is not going to happen.  We’ve been planning on spending a month in Costa Rica and then traveling on to Ecuador and points south for the remainder of our time abroad.  This may or may not happen.  Currently, the work Ecology and Environment has to offer Randy is in Kuwait, Morocco or China.  We’ve decided Kuwait is not an option for our family right now.  That leaves Morocco or China.


Morocco sounds good.  Spain is a boat ride away.  Greece is a short hop.  I can picture that.  Morocco was actually on our original list as we have dear friends who live there.  Then we realized it was quite costly to travel from South America to Europe and Africa and decided to concentrate our time on one continent.  

China has not been on the top of my travel tick list but it is proximate to some places that have been calling  including the Himalayas, Thailand and Indonesia to name a few.

And so it stands that we really have no idea where we are going on this one year sabbatical.  We’ll start in Alaska, somehow probably land in Indiana and then Maine to visit family.  Then we will go somewhere.  Not having tickets at the first of the year will not mean we won’t go.  This I must trust. If the work plans fall through we can revert back to the Central and South America plans.  We’ll figure out what to bring and what books we need.  We can always get them once we are “there”.

It is time I surrender and become a true traveler –  one who “has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving”.  There will be a pillow, or at least a rolled up fleece jacket, to place my head upon at night wherever we land.

Alaska is calling.



  1. Stacy, you are truly amazing and inspiring to me. I am very much looking forward to the journey with you via this incredible thing we call the world wide web! We also will certainly be joining you for a little rendezvous abroad, perhaps in more than one place! I love you, Jinsley

  2. Cool stuff Earlywines…. How time flies… I remember the travel discussions we had like they were yesterday… Now it’s getting close. Hope to be able to meet you on your travels.. wherever that may be. Definitly will be with you in Spirit..

    Peace on your journey….

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