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February 22, 2013

Vagabonding Case Study: Traci Wightman

 

Traci Wightman

tlwightman.com

Age: 33

Hometown: Mason, Michigan (USA)

Quote: “The feeling of being out on the road is one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had. Unlike before, this road has no targeted end date.

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful?

I came across the books a few years ago at Barnes & Noble, at a time when I was looking for inspiration/motivation to travel. I’ve read through the book several times, looked up several of the resources and have read through many of the pages on the vagabonding site. I find it useful in helping me to get organized as I prepare for my upcoming journey. There are things mentioned in the book that I did not think about as a consideration for vagabonding, but have them on my task list.

What is your job or source of travel funding for this journey?

I have been working as a grant writer/coordinator at a state agency for almost 8 years. I will be cashing in my 457 account from that position to help support my on-going expenses. I’ve been putting money into this account, for the eventuality of my transitioning into a new job/career else where.

Do you plan to work on the road?

Yes, I do plan on working while abroad. My career of choice is international development and I need field experience. I will be working with local organizations on short-term projects to build up more field experience.

What was the reaction of your friends/family/colleagues as you planned your trip?

Many of my friends/family/colleagues are excited for me, but also concerned about my taking a big leap into the unknown. Others are upset with me.

I spent a year abroad as a high school exchange student about 15 years ago, then I spent another year studying abroad while in college about 10 years ago. Upon my return from my second year abroad, a family member said to me, well, I hope you got it all out of your system, so that you can now settle down and get a decent job. In the last 8 years, I took a couple two-week trips while working, but it’s not the same feeling as having one’s possessions on their back, and carrying their life with them as they are moving in and out of other people’s lives.

Any tips or lessons learned from the travel-preparation process?

Something I’m realizing about all of this is it’s a process, and everything happens in its own time. From packing up the home to canceling services or forwarding mail, this all has to be done at a certain stage in the process. I am still looking for a good method of receiving mail, since I will be getting rid of my current dwelling.

A tip for preparation, don’t sweat the small stuff. If I got anxious about everything that is changing right now, it would make this process less fun. I still have about 2 months before I head out, and I would be driving myself crazy if I worried about each minute detail and not trusting that this will all happen in due time.

How long do you hope to spend on the road?

At this point, I plan to be on the road as long as it takes. I will not be constantly on the move, I have done that before. I would like to work on short-term projects for 3-6 months at a time, and then take a few weeks to see different things as I move towards the next destination.

Which destinations do you hope to visit?

I will be starting in Guatemala to attend a Spanish school and work with a local non-profit for a few months. I want to become more proficient in Spanish before moving into areas I am less familiar with. From there, I would like to visit as many of the countries in Central and South America as I can.

Which experiences are you most looking forward to?

More than anything, I am looking forward to the adventure of it all. I also look forward to interacting with the expat communities again. I guess I could say I am a bit of a travel junkie, and have not been on a big adventure in several years. The feeling of being out on the road is one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had. Unlike the last couple times, this road has no targeted end date.

What are you packing for the journey?

I’m heading to a warmer climate and will be taking more appropriate clothing, plus good hiking/walking shoes, sandals, and dress shoes. I will have my laptop and camera, plus ancillaries. I am still researching the remaining items I would like to include in my pack, including camping hammock, light-weight sleeping bag, etc.

Do you have any worries or concerns about the journey?

I guess my biggest concern is how my dog will handle all of this change. Once I’m in a position to have a regular dwelling again and working on longer projects, I will send for him. In the meantime, he will remain with family.

How can we best follow your adventures?

I will be posting to my blog: http://traclynne.blogspot.com/

Website: tlwightman.com

Are you a Vagabonding reader planning, in the middle of, or returning from a journey? Would you like your travel blog or website to be featured on Vagabonding Case Studies? If so, drop us a line at casestudies@vagabonding.net and tell us a little about yourself.

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