My love affair with International Travel started in 1978 with a summer vacation in Europe with my mom. I had been an Art History major in university, so the explorations into the fabric of European culture with its cities, towns, architecture, events, museums, and daily life opened up a whole new world to me. One that made the visions I had held in my head for so long tangible. Mom was a great travel buddy and it was a marvelous trip and was followed the next year with an equally satisfying second one, again with mom. Those trips opened a path to me and I just had to show off my newfound wonders to friends, so two of them joined me for a third summer of European travel and camping throughout in the cramped space of a VW Westfalia Vanagon. I had saved up money for the third trip by working in a CoCo’s restaurant where I learned that food service was not my forte. I was better at cocktailing and would continue to do this as a second job whenever I needed extra money to travel. After this trip though I “settled” into the world of full-time work. I worked a number of jobs/careers without a break until I got fed up with it and jumped ship and off into my first backpacking RTW in 1987, one that lasted 18 months and 13 countries, going through several Lonely Planet bibles in the process.
After my travel companion returned home at about a third of the trip due to the death of her father, I was on my own for the first time. That was short-lived because the day she left I went on a rafting trip in Nepal and met some other wonderful travelers, as you do when traveling internationally and doing the RTW “circuit”.
One was Marty who gave me a huge welcome as I boarded the bus. She instantly became a friend for life and we traveled together then for over 4 months in Nepal and India picking up and dropping off other travelers along the way. This first RTW was another eye-opener as I realized in a short time just how easy long-haul travel could be.
I left thinking that I was doing something so unique and found out on the first day in Tahiti that I was a total novice surrounded by travelers who had been gone for years!
Our backpacks at the time of departure weighed a ton. I had read in one of the travel planning books to place my pack in a duffle bag to protect the straps from ripping off when loading and unloading the plane. Because the pack was huge so was the duffle bag. I could barely move it, I dragged it into the campsite on Moorea and people laughed. We had over-prepared by buying every gadget under the sun at a local REI and found that we didn’t need any of it. After spending 10 days in Tahiti our next stop was New Zealand where we sent three-quarters of the items home. We kept the tent though and camped and hitchhiked through New Zealand and Australia, ditching it when we entered Asia. The South Pacific was a bit too normal for me. When I entered Asia I really started my adventure in foreign lands and I felt so alive and so right. This is exactly what I was searching for.
When I returned home after continuing my travels through Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean I had a tremendous culture shock as I tried to make sense of the USA again.
I had to surround myself with the world of travel so I joined STA, a student travel agency. Working two jobs at a time I finally saved up enough to sell everything (I didn’t have much since I always knew I would go out again), pick up and leave the country for my second RTW, this time for a year. The bulk of it was spent in East, West, North, and South Africa (7 months) India, Nepal, and South-East Asia. I visited Marty in Malawi where she was working with IRC and through her, I met Paul who would be my great travel buddy for the second half of the trip. And when we were trekking the Annapurna Sanctuary Kim and Rob came into our lives. Once again life-long friendships were made. This is part of the joy of travel, meeting like-minded travelers who make an exceptional impact on our lives.
When I returned from this trip I joined Adventure Center working their South Pacific desk. I wanted to be back in the world of backpackers though so when an opportunity to join Council Travel came up I jumped at the chance, and it changed my life. I met Glenn at a Council Travel company-wide sales meeting in San Diego 25 years ago. I saw a guy just back from a year-long adventure of his own through Latin America. He looked the rugged part of a traveler with his long ponytail and tan and we hit it off talking all night in the hospitality suite over drinks and green m&m’s. We were in two different offices so we did not see each other that often.
After working with Council for years, and doing many more of our own separate trips we both made a change in 1997 to work at High Adventure Travel, now Airtreks, Int., where Glenn just retired from on December 8, 2017. So began a strange, long, ever-changing, never acknowledged courtship.
We both dated other people, I actually lived with someone for eight and a half years until he died. Glenn and I remained great friends and after living as a couple since 2013, we married in 2017. Glenn owned his house in Temescal, Oakland for 20 years and it was his sanctuary.
I have lived in 17 residences, a van, a mini school bus, and motels so I have a bit more of a mobile mentality and think the transition for me maybe a bit easier than Glenn’s. None of these residences have been international though, so I am looking forward to our move to Mexico since I have always wanted to live in another country. I am a romantic, wanderer at heart, and love to explore new things. I can’t wait to see what adventure lies ahead and thrilled that I now have a lifelong partner to do it with. For photos of my past trips see my gallery in this blog and check out my own Instagram site at riasworld58
Countries traveled: Austria (3), Australia (2), Belgium (3) Netherlands (5) England (7) Scotland (5), Ireland, Wales (2), South Africa (4), Nepal (2), India (3), Burma/Myanmar, Kenya (4), Tanzania, Zaire, Botswana (2) Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Mali, Burkino Faso, Togo, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand (3), New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland (3), Germany (3), Italy (3), France (6) Spain, Hungary, Zimbabwe (3), Egypt, Turkey (3), Greece (2), Luxembourg (2), Andorra, Mexico (6) – now living there, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Canada (9), Malaysia
Can’t wait to extend the list, and experience all the exciting travels in our future.