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The Unexpected Gifts from Travel

by | Oct 7, 2023 | Traveling The World, Let's Play

The first part of my career was with a Fortune 500 company where I was a Senior Research Scientist within an agricultural biotechnology laboratory. As a young post-graduate student, I didn’t have much discretionary income to travel and instead relied on weekend camping trips and bike rides to provide a little break from an intense job. My first trip overseas was not until I was 38 years old, and I went with a work friend to Italy and England. I was the typical wide-eyed tourist as we explored the architect, culture, and cuisine of Rome and London. From the time of that first trip, wander-lust seeped into my soul and I started dreaming of all the places in the world I wanted to experience.

After 17 years with my Fortune 500 company, I decided that there was more to life than being stuck in a research laboratory 10 hours a day and in 1998, I took 2 years off from my career to get out and experience the world. I had recently watched a National Geographic special on the Galapagos Islands, and that appealed to my scientist intrigue. I booked a two-week sailing trip with this company, which included a tour of the Ecuadorian Amazons. About 6 months later, I used the same adventure company to tour the World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu with a side trip to explore Peru.

Machu Picchu Inca Trail
Laying with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands
Amazon Jungles


After taking these two trips, I was hooked on adventure travel! In the summer of 1998, my mother wanted to take a cruise and we agreed to see the Inside Passage of Alaska. During the trip, the cruise line offered side trips and I had the opportunity to hike the Juneau Ice Field. Wearing ice hiking gear and carrying an ice axe, our guide led us on an exploration across this 1 million old ice field and the views were just breathtaking. The following year, mom and I flew to Europe and explored London and the British Isles together. We saw the mysterious Stonehenge, explored castles and looked for the Loch Ness Monster everywhere we went.

The next year I moved to San Diego, and in 2007 I finally accomplished one of my Bucket List items by getting SCUBA certified. After finishing my training in San Diego, I flew to Belize for a week to explore their beautiful coral reefs. Becoming a SCUBA diver has allowed me to see some of the most awe-inspiring sites in nature and I feel at peace when I am 100 feet below sea level. During that same trip, I explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Guatemala and the secret Mayan underworld of Actun Tunichil Muknal.

Belize DivingEPSON MFP imageTiger Bengal RV


I returned to my career in 2002, but my love of travel and adventure was now embedded in my soul. Moving up the career ladder greatly curtailed my overseas travels, but I continued with my trips to New York City for Broadway theater, explored the beautiful forests, wineries, and coastline of California, and kicked up a lot of dirt on the many miles of hiking trails I covered. I even completed my first RV trip, hitting the road for almost a month to conduct a video tour for my non-profit company, Someday Is Now.


Moab Hiking

I noticed distinct changes within me after completing several of my overseas trips. I felt more assured and confident, a bit worldly from negotiating foreign travel, talking with people from many diverse backgrounds, and experiencing a variety of cultures. Managing the challenges of different airports, foreign languages, and being away from the comforts of my own home had all contributed to a feeling of being elevated to a new level of inner pride.

Now after years of trekking, hiking, exploring, and being constantly wowed by this precious world of ours, I feel more connected to my fellow humans. I have already made my travel plans for the next few years–diving in the Bahamas and Costa Rica, exploring Iceland, and hiking in New Brunswick/Nova Scotia–and am excited to see what unknown treasures these trips will hold.


Traveling is so much more than just buying a plane ticket, booking a few hotels, and packing your necessities. Traveling gives you the time you need to reinvent yourself. Perhaps you always wanted to be that brave white water rafter, or culinary expert on the foods of the Amazon. Maybe your dream is to learn professional photography while on a photo expedition.

The possibilities are so varied for you to hit the road and add some new features to your personal resume. Every trip you take, whether a family RV vacation to the mountains or an adventure to the wilds of the Australian Outback, can enhance your sense of self because it proves you can get out of the comforts of your current existence and learn new skills.


It’s always challenging and rewarding to get out of our comfort zones, whether we’re visiting a city as user-friendly as Paris or as exotic as the Himalayan hamlet of Phortse, says Jeff Greenwald, author of six travel books and executive director of the nonprofit resource Ethical Traveler. Something deep within us recognizes the value of being able to communicate effectively with a kebab vendor in Istanbul. It makes us realize we can live our lives anywhere, that were a part of the big world and not confined to our own tiny piece of it.

Recent studies show that travel elevates mood in measurable ways. It makes people happier, more optimistic, more grateful, and more respectful of others. Self-esteem is a practice that begins with awareness, says lifestyle expert Petra Kolber. One of the pillars of self-esteem is to live consciously, and when we travel we tend to be more conscious and aware of what is going on around us.

Traveling also helps us get out of our own disruptive thought patterns simply by moving away from our regular environments, Kolber says. We have the chance to get curious and explore our new surroundings–and that is also a great tool for lifting self-esteem.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller


As much as we love returning from a trip to snuggle down into our own bed and tell all our friends about our travels, it can sometimes come with a bit of a letdown. While traveling, we are free from those little chores around the house, paying bills, and (hopefully) being constantly connected to our computers or TV. Once at home, our life returns to the daily routine and we can find ourselves longing for the time when we can take another adventure.

One way to keep your vacations perpetually is to bring home little souvenirs from each place you travel. Simple coasters, a little knickknack from a roadside store, or even a pretty rock can remind you of that special travel place. Of course, photos are always the best way to memorialize your travels and there is a company called Mixtiles that will take your digital photos and make them into beautiful canvas wall hangings. I use a photo from a favorite hiking trip as my laptop screensaver to remind me of the special hike I was on in Sedona, AZ.

Sedona Rocks

I always take a journal with me when I travel, and I have one journal I have kept that dates back to my college day! What was it about the trip you took that gave you the most joy or made your feel like a true Road Warrior? Write it down! Often times it is when we are outside of our normal environment that we realize how much we like socializing with people we don’t know or trying different cuisines. Journaling about these awarenesses will keep them present to you.


Hopefully you will be able to travel often, whether it is a short in-town stay vacation or an exotic overseas adventure. Planning the next trip keeps the wander lust alive and it’s fun to go to Internet travel sites and look at all the offerings. I often visit Lonely Planet and get inspired by reading their travel blog and looking at all their travel offerings.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

You’ve work hard throughout your life and now it is time to have life on your terms. Pack your bags NOW–don’t wait for that someday to happen. Your Someday Is Now!

Yours In Vibrant Wellbeing,


Joan Brackin

Joan is a triple-degreed scientist and engineer and a Certified Integrative Medicine Health Coach. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner of the amazing Checkers the Shiz Tzu. Joan founded the Someday Is Now 501(c)(3) organization. She can be contacted at info@cognistrength.com


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