Everyone’s dreamed about it.
Packing a suitcase, buying a one way ticket and leaving everything behind.
But who really does it?
Try Larissa Milne.
In late 2011 – Larissa and her husband Michael – sold everything, left their jobs and took off to travel around the world for a year… all over the age of 50!
In this interview, Larissa shares the good and bad of long-term travel and what’s next on her plate…
How did you decide to take a year-long adventure and not just a standard vacation?
After going through a rough couple of years with illness and family crises we really started to evaluate if our lives were on the right path.
It became clear to us that a simple vacation wouldn’t be enough—we needed to do something far more “major” to change our lives.
What obstacles did you face planning your travels and selling all your belongings?
There are two major facets to taking a long-term journey:
- the first is planning the trip;
- the second is coordinating everything you leave behind.
Planning the trip can be complicated, but it’s fun and exciting. You’ve made the decision to go and you just want to get on a plane.
The stuff you leave behind is, well, stuff you’ve decided to leave behind. Therefore it’s tedious and it can be a real drag dealing with the 1,001 little details such as putting your belongings in storage, sorting out insurance, etc. There are points along the way when it seems it will never get done.
Why did you create ChangesInLongitude.com and what’s up with Rocky Balboa?
We knew we wanted to chronicle our journey and a blog seemed the natural way to do so.
We chose the name because it reflected not only changing longitudes as we traveled around the world, but also the changes that we were seeking to make in our own lives. We wanted to bring some sort of mascot or “good luck charm” along and since we’re from Philadelphia the natural choice was Philly’s favorite underdog, Rocky.
We wrote a monthly series about the journey for the Philadelphia Inquirer so Rocky was a great fit for our readers. They were always curious where he was going to show up next.
What was the best part of your trip on your trip?
“Little Rocky” was recognized almost everywhere we went and he served as a great icebreaker for meeting people and getting the locals to open up to us.
This happened in some really odd spots, like a Buddhist convent in Vietnam and a rutted dirt road in the African desert.
Once we brought out Little Rocky, we went from being strangers or tourists to friends and guests.
What was the worst part of your trip (and where were you) on your trip?
Seeing the lack of respect for our planet that is destroying many of the world’s beautiful places.
Some of the famous beaches of Bali were literally full of trash that had washed ashore, and the air pollution in parts of China and Southeast Asia was so bad that a sunny day looked overcast and breathing was difficult.
What inspiring words would you give other women who are interested in travel?
If you are a woman interested in travel you are certainly not alone!
During this journey I met traveling women of all ages, either alone or with a partner or group, pursuing whatever interested them most. There are plenty of resources available to assist you in planning the trip of your dreams, as well as providing good practical tips for packing, safety, etc.
The byline of our site is “Just Go Already!” and I would encourage any woman thinking of taking a unique trip to do exactly that.
Your husband – Michael Milne – mentioned you had a health scare. Would you mind sharing your experience and how you overcame it?
A few years ago a routine gynecological exam revealed a large tumor that required major surgery. I worked in the life sciences industry and knew this was potentially life threatening.
In the midst of this I had just put my dying mother into hospice care, my adopted young adult daughter was in yet another behavioral program and I learned the start-up company I was running had lost its funding.
I didn’t know if I was going to simply have a tumor removed or be off to hospice care myself.
Fortunately my only souvenir was a big scar, but the experience made me realize the fragility of life, and the role we each play in our own destiny. As I recovered from surgery and mourned the loss of my mother, I resolved to let go of the stressful situations I could not change.
Over the next 1-2 years we simplified our lives and planned the trip.
How has travel inspired you in other aspects of your life?
Ever since I was a child I’ve loved going to new places, it made me realize there was more to the world than my own back yard.
Travel has fed my love of food and cooking, and even my professional career—jobs where I’ve traveled internationally have been my favorites.
You just got back from your trip… How are you adjusting?
Most things back home have changed very little, while my husband and I have changed a lot.
We need a lot less in terms of space and material goods, so we’re getting rid of most of the stuff we kept in storage. We’ve made a decision to change the direction of our lives, we will now focus on travel, writing and inspiring others who are seeking to change their future.
What’s next? More travel?
Ironically, for the short term we need to stay put and get our new life established. We are also writing a book about our adventures. Any literary agents out there?
In the meantime we’ve got less baggage, literally and figuratively. I imagine it won’t be long until we’re back on the road!
Please visit ChangesInLongitude.com to read more about their journey and continuing adventures.
And thank you Larissa for sharing your travels! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.