Travel as Adventure

Joel Duncan

From our earliest dating days, we have valued traveling together. Whether a few hours (or many) on a road trip in the car to long-haul train trips or longer-term overseas travel, we love taking in the world’s beauty, its diverse culture, and continually learning more about our worldwide neighbors. Most important to us is that our travels are always an adventure.

Joel and Stacy on a trip to the United Kingdom in 2006.

As a word, “adventure” often prompts images of jungles, deserts, mountains, or oceans. For us, adventure is more about experience and over many of those we’ve come to define an adventure as:

  1. You’re not completely sure where you’re going.
  2. You’re not entirely sure how you will get there.
  3. When your journey is done, you will necessarily be changed in some way.

Not knowing where you are going is not meant to imply a destination-less trip, but rather it is an acknowledgement that the full history and local language of a place are part of the experience. Even a trip to somewhere you’ve been multiple times can reveal details and a depth not previously known. How many times could you visit Manhattan and take in a new art gallery, restaurant, or corner bodega? Spoiler: every time. This lack of information can also come from a general plan without specific details. Particularly for European trips, our norm is to book lodging in a particular city for two or three nights and have an idea of a week’s worth of sights, finding out on arrival which are open, recommended by locals, or simply toss all plans by the wayside when a new opportunity presents itself.

Joel and Stacy on a trip to Italy in 2004.

We consider various forms of transportation to be part of the destination. Our first trip together was just over a week, taking the train from Kansas City to visit family in California and returning. For that trip, nearly half of it was on the train, playing cards and talking with fellow passengers while getting the opportunity to see countryside and even parts of cities inaccessible by car. Public transit in non-English speaking countries is often its own adventure from simply purchasing a ticket to getting on the right line. Our first international trip included an hour and a half detour to discover the “73\” bus in Milan took a completely different route than the 73 bus; but if we knew that ahead of time, we’d have missed seeing an old amusement park and what life in the Milano suburbs looked like.

As for being changed, we truly enjoy meeting fellow travelers as well as locals, sharing our similarities and finding insight in our differences. It is refreshing to engage in conversation with a nanny whose three-year-old charge has realized she is wilting in the heat and offers his stroller so she can rest. While differences in language, architecture, and food vary, part of being changed, for us, is the continual reminder that we are more like our neighbors than different.

A 3 year old already understanding the concept of generosity.

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