To begin, this is not the story of a dot-com couple that cashes in
early to travel the world. It is quite the opposite. We are just two
“ordinary” people who understood that when an opportunity of a
lifetime presents itself, you have to take it.
It all started two months ago when, unfortunately (in retrospect:
fortunately), my husband Fletcher (a.k.a. Fletch) was laid-off from
his high-tech venture.
Like many high-tech junkies, we were searching for that
end-of-the-rainbow treasure that would yield our early retirement. A
high-tech veteran myself, we decided that maybe this was a sign
telling us it was time to try something different.
Like many, we have often fantasized about quitting our jobs and
traveling the world. And like many, we have always found numerous
excuses why we are unable to do it. Too much work, not enough money,
need to be responsible, should wait until we are actually retired;
the list goes on.
I did actually try to do this once before. Last year, when I quit
my own high-tech job, I planned a monthlong trip to Europe with two
girlfriends. Our flight was scheduled to leave Tuesday, Sept. 11,
2001. Needless to say, we never made that trip.
To five-year residents of Laguna Beach, the thought of packing up
our house and leaving a destination that most people would kill to
live in seemed almost ridiculous. However, when stacked against the
fact that one of us didn’t have a job, the other didn’t really like
her job, our frequent flier mileage from years of business travel
would pay for our flights, our house was easily rentable, and we
still didn’t have any kids (only an ornery cat) to worry about; it
seemed ridiculous not to go.
So we did what we hope any couple in our situation would do. We
packed up our house, sold both of our cars, shipped our cat to
Toronto (Fletch’s brother agreed to be our pet’s caretaker) and
finally headed out to see the world. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy,
but with the help of our family and friends, a great property
management company and the innovations of online banking and e-bills,
it didn’t take us long to get ready.
We thought it would be difficult to plan the ideal itinerary, but
we quickly selected a travel route that would allow us to see as much
of the world as possible in one year without skimping on living the
Our first stop would include a short vacation with Fletch’s
parents in Canada to witness the changing of the seasons. Next, we
would stay in Taiwan with a 10-year resident and childhood friend of
Then, on to discover the Southeast Asian riches of Hong Kong,
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. From there our travels would
land us in Europe to winter in Italy, enjoy spring in France and
spend the summer months meandering through Spain and Portugal, with
jaunts to nearby countries of interest.
Novice travelers in comparison to many, setting our expectations
ahead of time seems foolish. Our travel comparisons to Laguna Beach
will be difficult enough. So we leave with open minds and will defer
to the ways of the road.
Our notebooks are empty. We wait anxiously to fill them with new
stories of exciting adventures and many wonderful memories and hope
to return much richer than what any end of the rainbow treasure could
* VALERIE SWIFT is a Laguna Beach resident. This is the first of
four articles on her recent travels.