No Excuses Month – The travel lesson I learned from my dad

My dad and me

My dad and me

Yesterday I was Skyping with my dad outside of a café in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain. We were chatting about my trip and he was asking me all kinds of questions about Southern Spain. My dad, who has never traveled outside of North America, seemed to be interested in what most people would consider mundane parts of travel, like the cost of a meal at a restaurant. After telling him about the joys of my cruise and the details of San Pedro and telling him that we’re already planning our next trip, he said, “Ya know, money isn’t everything.”

This is something significant for my dad to say because he’s what most people would call a ‘workaholic’, spending sometimes 60 or 80 hours a week at work. My dad has always worked very hard to provide for his family, but this has often created time barriers that have stopped him from exploring, in depth, many of his passions.

In many ways, I took after my dad and ever since I was 16 I too have been a ‘workaholic’. Instead of enjoying Spring Break with my friends, I chose to work. In lieu of vacations with Swim, I chose to work. Instead of spending holidays with my family, I chose to work. And I justified my choice to work over all else with this excuse: when I make enough money, I will have the time to travel and spend time with my family, but right now I need to work hard to get to the point where I have enough money.

Not surprisingly, no matter how hard I worked and no matter how much money I was making, there never seemed to be enough money to create enough time to travel and spend time with my family. And year after year, I put off my dreams of travel and my desire to spend more time with my family.

About a year ago, I started reflecting back on my years after high school graduation and all of the things I accomplished that I set out to accomplish:

Move out of Winfield, KS ✔
Go to an elite private college ✔
Have a household income of $50,000+ ✔
Live in a fancy, modern apartment ✔
Travel more…not so much.
Spend at least 1 week with my family each quarter…that didn’t happen either.

In fact, except for a short trip to Mexico and a weekend trip to Vancouver, I hadn’t traveled out of the country since my first overseas trip when I was 16. And I had barely spent any time with my family since I left for college in 2006. I had spent so much time trying to make money so I could travel and see my family, that I didn’t have any time to actually TRAVEL even though I had the money.

That was no bueno. Something had to change.

And that something was my attitude toward money. I started thinking about my ultimate life goals and prioritizing what I wanted most out of life. After much reflection, I realized I really desired to travel and spend time with my family above all else…ultimately, I realized that there is MUCH more to life than money.

One big happy family :)

One big happy family 🙂

And you know the rest of the story…a year later I was living on the beach and making my travel dreams come true. What you might not know is that I also make it a priority to see my family before each international adventure. Before we went to Belize, we took a cross-country trip to visit my family and Swim’s family. And before we set sail on our transatlantic cruise, we took a roadtrip to visit my family. In the last 6 months, I’ve spent as much time with my family as I had in the last TWO YEARS!

As I talked with my dad yesterday, I could hear in his voice that he was excited I was traveling and taking the time to explore the world in ways that he never had the chance to. My dad has taught me a lot of things. He’s taught me the value of hard work, but he’s also taught me that money isn’t everything and that I need to value experience above material possessions. And because of this lesson,  I’ve had the chance to travel, explore and enjoy adventure. So thank you, dad.


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