A Life Changing Adventure!

Posted: 10 years ago | By: Christine Somers | In: Life Management | Read Time: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

{Annie and Michael Zip Lining Through New Zealand}

Have you ever talked about traveling around the world and visiting all the exotic places you've dreamed of since the days of junior high geography? Of course, most of us have and we promised that the moment we retire, off we would go. The husband and wife team of Annie Groeber and Michael Molanphy were on track to do just that until they made the decision to make it happen now. After Michael and Annie returned from a 75-day "most excellent adventure" that covered 13 different countries, I talked with Annie about their life-changing trip. 

Annie told me that the planning for the trip started "after both of our mothers passed away and my uncle, who I was really close to." Annie's uncle and mother had wanted to travel when they retired but sadly, with age came poor health.  Additionally Annie and Michael "realized we'd been going to a lot of funerals of people who were our age" so the slogan "Life is Short" started to resonate with them.  On the positive side, their girls were now out of the house and doing well so they felt free to take this trip. A sense of urgency and newly found freedom converged to make this the right to time to plan an adventure. 

My first question after why now, was about logistic. How did you make it happen? Annie said, "We had a budget and a list of places we wanted to go to." Next, they contacted Beth Jenkins of McCabe Worldwide Travel and as Annie explained, "she took our budget and our wish list and then came back to us with what we could actually afford to do." Annie continued, "I highly recommend working with a professional-a professional agent has a network of resources around the globe. We always had someone to call. And, we did run into challenges. A terrorist attack in Kenya diverted our plans to a longer stay in South Africa and a typhoon kept us in Hanoi, Vietnam for several days longer than originally planned. Thankfully, we had somebody to call who could deal with the changes and we had great travel insurance which covered most of the change fees."

Since I am a big how-to person my next need to know question was how did they "mothball" their life in Baltimore. Again Annie relied the professionals, "we found someone to live in our house and our accountant picked up our mail 1x a week and paid our bills. We set up a separate account just for the time we were gone."

As Annie and I talked I learned of her desire to remember her mother and uncle on this trip. In addition to selecting countries that Michael and Annie wanted to visit, they also choose countries that her mother and uncle had wanted to visit. I was touched to learn that in Thailand a monk bestowed a blessing on them that was dedicated to her mother and uncle and that Annie lit candles for her mother and uncle in the beautiful churches they visited. It was her way of taking her mother and uncle to the countries they were never able to visit. 

When asked if they had a good balance between time and places visited, Annie explained, "Michael said it best. He described our trip as a Whitman's Sampler (boxed chocolate). Some countries were like the chocolates that have caramel or chocolate in the middle and you say I want more of that. Others were like the chocolates with the jelly in the middle and a small bite was enough and you just put the rest back in the box. We would definitely like to visit South Africa or Thailand again but not necessarily Chile and Australia." 

After a most excellent adventure I wondered what the next "big thing" would be for Annie and Michael. Annie said, "The biggest lesson we learned is that we don't need so much stuff. We are selling our house (in Baltimore), downsizing and moving to New York City (to be closer to Michael's family). The trip really helped us to realize how much extra stuff we have. We want to be more flexible so we can do even more traveling and spend more time with our friends and family. Having a life with less "stuff" will help."

Annie and Michael wrote about and shared pictures of their journey in real time on a blog called Dear Burglar... I love the tongue and cheek title and their humorous turn of a phrase continues all through their trip journal. I encourage you to stop by and check out their Best Of awards. (Michael and Annie annually host a killer Academy Awards Party complete with an Oscar made of cheese. They know awards!) 

This trip was a fulfilment of a dream and also the catalyst for change for my friends. I ask you, where would you go on your most excellent adventure? And when will you go? I would love to hear from you.