This woman proves you can be a mom and still travel the world
New Year's Resolutions are a running joke. They fizzle away by mid-February each year. And yet, we keep repeating the cycle. We have good reasons like our husband, wife, children, job, money and time that keep getting in the way. But the truth is they are not our reasons; they are our excuses.
Image: Twizted Myrtle/Asha Wadher
Would you like to break this cycle? If yes, meet someone who has overcome what most of us would consider as good reasons to not achieve our dreams and goals.
She's a mother, businesswoman and world traveler. She's the mother of two beautiful children. She is the owner of Vacation Visions, a full-service travel agency that specializes in family vacations, romance getaways, destination weddings and more. She has traveled to 80 of the 195 countries to date. She is also the current President of the Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents. And if that weren't enough to juggle, she is also the Chapter Co-leader of a charity called Dining for Women Chapter in Mesa/Chandler. Her name is Staci Blunt and here's her story.
During her most impressionable teen years, she was invited by her brother, who was stationed in the Army in Berlin, to travel to Europe for six weeks. As she toured Germany, Austria and France, she was amazed to learn how worldly the Europeans seemed to be; they knew more about American politics than she did, for instance. The entire experience shattered the belief she grew up with that America was the best country on Earth. She recognized that there was much to celebrate about other cultures and countries as well. This trip opened Staci's eyes. It lit her fire and life was never the same.
Safari tour in Kruger National Forest, South Africa
So began her travels around the world! She never had a lot of money to travel, but never let that or any other obstacles stop her. She learned to stay in hostels and modest hotels, shared expenses with friends or family, traveled during off-peak season and had picnic-style meals when funds ran short. She was frugal and aligned her actions with her goals, to experience as much as she could! When she was on sales trips for work, during her free time, she went off to experience as many sights as she could while others chose to sleep or go shopping.
She traveled alone on many trips as well. At the age of 20, she traveled to Mexico and lived with a family in Guanajuato to study Spanish. She traveled to Europe on her own; she boarded in hostels and used rail passes to get around when she was 22. While she enjoyed meeting people during her solo trips, she was also cautious not to stay out too late or do anything to get in trouble. But trouble found her anyway. She was once robbed in a hostel for $80 and mobbed by youthful pickpockets in Italy. She was also nearly robbed while sleeping on a train. Still, she continued to travel.
But one day, everything changed. She became a mother. She faced the ultimate heart-wrenching dilemma that every mother faces, having to choose between her personal aspirations and her child. Like every mother, she struggled and it tore her apart. The most difficult goodbye was when she had to leave her 6-week-old baby girl at daycare in the hands of strangers. Her daughter didn't cry, but Staci did. Such goodbyes can bring anyone to their knees to reconsider their decision.
But where there's a will, there's a way. Her husband did not share the same interest in travel as she did. So he held the fort down while Staci traveled for work and her personal quest. She did everything she could to make it easier on her husband by making sure the house was clean, laundry was done, bills paid and she kept in touch via email and phone. She also had plenty of late working nights while on the road to ensure that her clients were taken care of. Staci continued to make lifestyle choices and sacrifices so she could afford to invest in her travel experiences rather than accumulation of goods. She managed whatever she needed to manage so she could clear the path to facilitate her travels and life dreams.
Staci believes that travel is much more than just seeing sites around the world. Travel has made a deep and permanent change in her attitude, opinions and values. Her motto is, "keep life simple and travel more."
Staci and her daughter, Tara, experiencing Maui
Staci's top favorite places on Earth are Maui, Western Europe as a region as she can't select any one country and Peru, in that order. Other favorite countries include Costa Rica, New Zealand, South Africa, China, Japan and Thailand. Staci's goal is to visit 100 countries, seven continents and all 50 states by her 50th birthday in 2017. She is just one more state (North Dakota) away from completing her U.S. travel goal. And she has seven countries lined up for early 2015 to bring her number to 87 countries by mid-March this year. No doubt she will attain her goal with her can-do attitude!
Here are three inspiring lessons to be learned by Staci’s story.
1. Send your excuses on a long vacation
Life is full of obstacles. No one is immune to that. It's our choice to fall victim to those obstacles or remove them from our path. Staci had all of the widely accepted excuses to not pursue her dream: family, children, career, time, money, being female and alone!
But Staci's will and desire to travel was stronger than the excuses she could come up with. She had the right attitude and was determined to find solutions to her obstacles. She refused to hide behind the problem and use it as an excuse to not do something. So the question is, did you come up with your New Year's Resolution because it's a cool exercise to do at the beginning of the year and allow yourself to dream a little? Or did you come up with your New Year's Resolution because you want it as badly as the oxygen you breathe?
2. Live your dreams and keep your identity
Although Staci's heartstrings were tugged in every direction possible, she allowed herself to have her own identity and dreams. She refused to let her motherhood define and consume her in its entirety. She struggled with the common sentiment that she was being selfish by pursuing her own dreams while her kids were at home without their mother. But she stood firm and recognized that there was nothing selfish about wanting to pursue her own dreams and nourishing her own identity while being a wonderful mother.
Machu Picchu, Peru
3. Inspire and be the change!
Staci used to bring little souvenirs from every country she traveled, only to discover that most of them made their way to the yard sale. So she stopped buying as many souvenirs. Instead, she took lots of pictures. She shared stories and insight into her world travels with her kids, an incredible way to spend quality time with her kids. And in doing so, she became an inspiration to her kids.
Consequently, their fire has been lit; her children want to travel the world too! The most beautiful part about this story is how Staci started a healthy cycle. When her children travel the world, they will educate themselves through their experiences with different cultures, nationalities, religion, ways of life and so on. Their conversations and approaches to life have the potential to be more worldly, understanding and appreciative.
Staci's story also teaches us that when we pursue our dreams with passion and conviction, not only does it fulfill our soul, but also, inadvertently, it inspires others around us.
You can make your dreams come true!