What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance? How did you end up in this career / role?
I grew up traveling often with my parents and brothers, from weekend road trips to 2-year stints in Hong Kong and Singapore. I was captivated by the variety of cultures we came across in our travels, and I've never stopped itching to peek into different corners of the world and see how they tick.
In college I ended up knee deep in mathematical proofs as a math & stats major, which landed me a job testing software for an electronic medical records company. Very innovative, exciting, and important work, but not a path that easily lends itself to jet setting, so my feet quickly grew itchy from so much desk time and not enough adventure time. It wasn't long before I had transferred to a different department at the same company. In my new role, I hopped on a plane every week, visiting hospitals everywhere from Austin to Amsterdam and assisting them with the harrowing task of changing everything they do from an old system (paper, usually) to a newer, safer, more efficient system. I loved the travel and I loved the work, and apparently it loved me too because last fall I was offered the exciting position of opening up the company's brand new office in Melbourne and taking on the company's first Australian client. So here I am, navigating a new city and a new industry with new lingo and customs and culture, and I couldn't be happier.
With a new office and a new life to build, I haven't had much time to escape the city yet, but with my few extended weekends so far I've headed to the mountains a few hours west of Melbourne. I grew up near the mountains in Colorado, so mountains have always held a special place in my heart.
What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
With over 25 countries under my belt, Colorado is still my favorite place to travel. Breathtaking views are plentiful in the Rocky Mountains, and I love that the more you exert yourself the more you are rewarded. The landscape changes its face completely from season to season, bringing new wonder to old trails again and again. And the culture you'll find nestled in between the majestic peaks is so communal and comforting, I just want to have a beer and a chat with every person who is lucky enough to call the Rockies their home.
What's your worst travel experience?
I've experienced many ups and downs in my years of traveling, but only the good times stick out in my memory. What could be described as the worst travel experience I've had was probably Valentine's Day 2014, when a nasty blizzard hit the East Coast and rendered every airport from Burlington to Charlottesville useless. I happened to be in Maine at the time, and wanted nothing more than to return home to my boyfriend in Madison, Wisconsin to eat the heart-shaped pepperoni pizza he bought me. After two days of unsuccessful flights out of Portland, the best option the airline agent could offer me was a flight out of Detroit. So my co-workers and I packed into a rental car and drove the 14 hours to Detroit, by way of Niagara falls, the birthplace of the Buffalo wing in Buffalo, and the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland. Not such a bad detour after all.
What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
Although it's rare, the airlines can sometimes cause good fortune as well as bad. One on return trip from Turks & Caicos, I was lucky enough to get delayed in Dallas for over 24 hours, which allowed me to spend an unexpected weekend with some cousins I rarely get to see, and stave off the cold Wisconsin weather a bit longer. For once, I wasn't grumbling about another airline delay.
The attitude I try to maintain during the good and the bad experiences is simply an optimistic one. Even an unexpected 14-hour road trip or a 24-hour flight delay can be an adventure if you want it to be. I try to see these things as an opportunity to be creative, rather than an excuse to shut down and yell at whoever is in front of me.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
Every step is an opportunity, and I'd say the same to anyone who is interested in traveling but doesn't know how to start. Start small, with people you know and places you have easy access to. For me, what began as parent-planned trips turned into self-propelled weekend getaways and ultimately arrived at a career in which travel is inherently baked into my new ex-pat lifestyle. Slowly widen your circle and keep your ears open for new opportunities. Then just say yes!
Lindsay is an American-born lifetime nomad, currently stationed in Melbourne, Australia.