In 1992 I hadn’t traveled very much yet. As a kid my family made an annual trip to Vancouver Island to visit my grandparents. I had taken a couple of trips to Europe for two or three weeks at a time and I always had a travel companion.
I was still living in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. I had been working at the same company for a number of years and had become bored with my job. I enjoyed working there but the work wasn’t challenging anymore.
At the time I was recently divorced and living on my own for the first time in my life. I enjoyed living in the city center where there were always things to do and plenty of restaurants and bars. Prince’s Island Park was nearby and I visited frequently to relax and daydream while sitting by the Bow River.
The Spark of Inspiration
One evening I happened to watch the National Geographic special Bali: Masterpiece of the Gods. The Hindu Dharma religion practiced in Bali is based on an intriguing blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and ancestor/spirit worship. I was fascinated with the whole culture, the rituals, artwork, music, and dance performances. It seemed a utopia for artists. I was mesmerized. The overwhelming desire to go see this magical place had enveloped me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The initial spark of inspiration had been struck and my mind couldn’t let go of the possibility that I could actually travel to Bali, Indonesia. I decided my next vacation would be my very first solo trip. I was extraordinarily excited.
The Planning Stage
I had studied for a year at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary and still had a keen interest in the arts. My favorite subjects in school had always been math and art and since I decided that I couldn’t make it as an artist I veered back to math and enjoyed working in accounting. I enjoy planning and organizing and maybe that’s part of what appealed to me about accounting. Planning skills also come in handy when traveling.
My original plan was to take three weeks vacation to visit Bali. When I started telling my friends about my plans a few of them told me that I should instead go for a year and travel around since the cost of the airfare was so pricey but the cost of living once there would be so cheap. A few of my coworkers had traveled around the world before and their stories intrigued me.
I scoured bookstores and the library for books about travel and the idea of traveling for more than just a few weeks became my new goal. I started to believe that this little dream could become a reality.
Everything seemed to fall into place. The boredom of my job had been replaced with my excitement over the idea of long term travel and I soon decided I would quit my job in order to travel. I purchased the Lonely Planet guide Southeast Asia on a Shoestring and started saving my money.
At the time I had been exploring the Hindu and Buddhist religions on my own and I had seen the Glenbow Museum’s Many Faces, Many Paths: Art of Asia exhibit a few times already. The stone sculptures were impressive as were the stories of the many gods and goddesses and the rituals of their followers.
I became a frequent visitor to the exhibit, dreaming about viewing such stone carvings in the ancient temples that I would soon visit when I traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Taking Action – Moving from Dream to Reality
I began to make my travel plans and purchased my airline ticket for a January 1993 departure date. I didn’t make a complete itinerary for my travels but had a few places in mind that I wanted to see and the rest would be decided along the way. The buildup of anticipation before departure was an elixir.
The spark that inspired me was so simple, just a chance viewing of a TV show. I’ve since been inspired to travel to Buenos Aires after going to see an art exhibit. And wanting to escape the summer heat of Texas I looked to the Southern hemisphere and booked a trip to Rio de Janeiro where it was still winter.
Wherever and whenever the wanderlust spark strikes I hope you will embrace it.