A Look Back and a Look Ahead

| December 29, 2010 | 9 Comments
lookingback A Look Back and a Look Ahead

A look back and a look ahead...

When a company asserts that they “Love Changing People’s Lives”, today’s sometimes cynical traveller is forgiven for being skeptical of such a boast. But here Kathryn and I are sitting in Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport on December 28, looking back at the last ten days, discussing all that we have seen and wondering at what 2011 might hold in store for us. And much to our delight, our lives have been changed.

Hatching The Plan

The plan around which Two Go Round-The-World was built held that we would depart for a year-long journey in July 2011 dependent, of course, on whether Kathryn would be granted a sabbatical from her job as a teacher. I was less concerned with my career, as I had been planning a change anyway. From 2005 until the beginning of this year, I’d worked as a copyeditor in the research department of an investment bank. It was good work and I learned a tremendous amount about copyediting, and investment and finance. But after five years, I learned that it was a career in which I wouldn’t be satisfied. That’s when Kathryn and I began to plan for our trip around the world. Thus began lunch hours surreptitiously surfing the web, delighting in the nascent travel blogging community and searching for inspiration in BootsnAll’s message boards and Lonely Planet’s forums. Back then, July 2011 seemed so far away.

But there is a psychological pleasure in anticipation. And it was this pleasure that energized both Kathryn and me in those early days, and it was this energy that served as catalyst for the blog itself. When we launched in June of 2009, I wasn’t aware of the number of opportunities that it would bear and that it might affect my career path.

It All Started With A Tweet

It all started with a tweet—and the rest, they say, is social media history. Coincident with the blog’s launch, we began to explore Twitter and in those early days, I discovered a refreshingly vocal entrepreneur by the name of Bruce Poon Tip. Bruce was the founder of Gap Adventures and an engaging presence on the web. It was the candor with which he engaged his audience on Twitter that caused me to look deeper into his company.

As I mentioned, I’d been working in an anonymous Bay Street office tower for over five years and had recently begun planning my escape from the cubicle. It had been almost as long since my wife and I had done any travelling—and we were itching to get back on the road. We’d been saving but progress was slow, sort of like digging your way out of a cell with a spoon.

It was through Twitter that I learned of Gap Adventures’ need for a copywriter and in the space of an afternoon, I resolved to do my best to secure a position with them. Because the staff there was encouraged to engage social media, the closer I looked at the company, the more intrigued I became. I felt that I was the perfect fit; all that was left to do was convince them of the same!

Changing Course

Four or five months after discovering Gap Adventures, I gave notice at the bank after five years and accepted a position at Gap Adventures head office (Base Camp, as it is affectionately known among Gappers). I began working earlier this year in the Marketing Department and have been helping to rewrite large portions of content, both online and off.

With Gap Adventures, I was to discover an unexpected continuity between the person that delighted in planning for adventure and the person in his workaday life, continuity quite at odds with the radical discontinuity when working at the bank, where the very air seemed to be heavier and less electric. It’s just a lot more fun, and a greater challenge, working here.

Where We are Now

Which brings us back to Quito. Following a few challenging (but nonetheless rewarding) months pulling together the2011 brochure lineup for the Gap Adventures product line, Kathryn and I celebrated Christmas by travelling to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, delighting in the incredible flora and fauna of one of the most unique places on earth. It’s trips like these that lend credence to Gap’s maxim that it “Loves Changing People’s Lives”. It was aboard one of Gap’s boats that we experienced the curious phenomenon whereby incredible experiences may be felt in the short time span of a small group tour, where our attention is directed to the critical moments of life and we experience for a few brief minutes the vividness and coherence that we may lack in the day-to-day present. After having worked for, and travelled with, Gap Adventures, this is what I feel they mean when they offer a life-changing experience.

Where We are Going

So what does this mean for Kathryn and I, and for our blog? Not much, really! Although we may be deferring our plans of travelling in July 2011 to the future, we are not giving up on our dream of long-term travel. It’ll happen, just not this summer and not in 2011 as originally planned. We’ve really been energized by the work and culture at Base Camp, and feel that there are a lot of meaningful and unique experiences to be had here, at home.

Gap Adventures is a company founded by travelers for travelers, and for this reason, we feel right at home, sustained by the stories and experiences of those with whom we work and socialize. And, while we may not be travelling long-term in 2011, we’ll scratch our travel itch with a number of shorter adventures. The first, to be chronicled in a series of upcoming blog posts, is to the aforementioned Galapagos, a trip from which we just returned. We hope to visit Egypt at some point this year, too, and to take advantage of some of the time off that Kathryn receives over the summer to travel internationally and domestically, as well. We’ll also take the opportunity to discuss what it’s like to work for, and travel with, the coolest small group travel company on Earth.

So stay tuned, faithful readers, the adventures are about to begin!

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Category: Dan's Blog

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

Comments (9)

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  1. Billy C says:

    nice piece, Daniel! thank you very much for sharing your experience and your insights.
    safe travels!

  2. Akila says:

    Daniel, Congrats on your new position! It sounds like you are getting to travel while working which is a great alternative to long term travel.

  3. ayngelina says:

    You were in Ecuador?? I’m in Cuenca for the holidays, so sad we missed each other. Looks like it’ll have to be in June when I get back to Toronto.

  4. Mike says:

    Congratulations on the position. Sounds like a dream come true. Can’t wait to see Galapagos pictures. That’s one of my dream destinations.

  5. Nico says:

    Congrats on the job, Daniel. Life’s river most definitely takes turns. Our job is not to fall off the boat. Sounds like you got your paddle firmly in the water.

    The best thing about working in the travel industry, at least for me, is getting to sate the travel appetite as a perk rather than an expense. Hope we’ll still see your posts coming down the pipe from time to time.

  6. Nomadic Matt says:

    That’s sad you aren’t going but giving it up for Gap is pretty good. You still get to do good things and travel more than you would have at your old job!

    Happy new year!

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks, Matt. It’s a dream deferred! We don’t really feel that we’ve given it up—just rejigged the plans. It’s all about the pleasure of anticpation! :)

  7. Gray says:

    Ah, interesting to see how things have changed for you! There is nothing wrong with changing your plans as new opportunities arise. Sounds like you have a great gig right now, and it’s not like you won’t be traveling at all.

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