Dear Uncle Calvin – With Love, Dyanne

Well, Uncle Cal, we brought out the big guns right off the bat.

Meet Dyanne – a 60 something, solo world traveler with an army of Uncle Calvin’s to contend with.  She’s had to do her share of explaining as she’s jetted off to all corners of the world, and is about to embark on her greatest adventure yet that will see her permanently moving to a foreign land.

(If you’re wondering who Uncle Calvin is and why he’s important – find out here!)

1. Thanks for doing this Dyanne!  Please tell us a little about yourself.

As a child, my family didn’t travel much – the most exotic destination I can remember was camping in a forest preserve in Ely, Minnesota.  But my earliest hint that I might carry the wanderlust gene was when I was just 10 years old. Indeed, I trace my travel addiction back to a sappy tune called “You belong to Me” by Patsy Cline.  It was among my parents’ favorites, but it was the lyrics that I believe placed a nomadic spell on my pubescent mind:

“See the pyramids along the Nile; Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle…” along with “Fly the ocean in a silver plane; See the jungle when it’s wet with rain…”

Yep, it was that silver plane whizzing over that ocean, and those jungles and tropical isles that captured my 10 yr. old imagination, and led me on a lifelong lust for distant lands.

But it wasn’t until years later as a single mom of two young daughters, that I was able to begin to fulfill my travel dreams.  For starters, we backpacked a summer in Mexico (when the girls were just 5 and 8 yrs. old).  Then I went back to school and as an undergrad I opted for a study abroad in France and Italy.  Again, dragging the girls along (by then ages 8 and 11), they went to French schools and we traipsed all over Europe for eight months.

The pyramids in the distance (cc: pyramidtextsonline via Flickr)

After they were grown, at 40 I tossed aside my Masters degree along with a great job – in favor of starting my own fledgling adventure travel company specializing in Belize (back when few had even HEARD of it) and Costa Rica.  From there it was all downhill. 😉  Dozens of trips throughout Central America, as well as Thailand, China, the Azores, Indonesia, etc.  And more recently, at the tender age of 60, I backpacked solo across South Africa and Mozambique for 6 weeks, rode a camel in the Sahara and… finally touched those “pyramids along the Nile” of my childhood dreams.

2. What are your current plans?

Trust that my many “Uncle Calvins” are surely shaking their virtual head in utter disbelief, ‘cuz my next travel adventure will be the zaniest yet:  I’m soon going to MOVE lock, stock and barrel to… VIETNAM!

Actually, I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner, but after a near lifetime of flitting ’round the globe for both work and pleasure, but of COURSE I’d not be content at 60+ to simply retire to a life of bingo here in the States.  So the next chapter begins in just 6 months, when I move to some g-forsaken rice paddy in Vietnam to teach EFL.  That’s what my TravelnLass blog is all about – the dreaming, the planning, the moving and all that lies ahead as a perpetual expat.

CC: bitzi ion-bogdan dumitresu via Flickr

3. Why do you believe travel is important?

Not to sound dramatic, but I honestly believe that traveling can – in some small smidge of a way – foster World Peace. I mean, it seems fear of “Others” and the “We vs. Them” syndrome is what keeps us lobbing bullets at one another.  But the truth is, we all cry the same tears, and grin when we feel joy.  Bottom line, we’re all kin of a sort –  equal members of a single family (the human race).  And those of us who travel are ambassadors for each of our native lands. The more we can mingle with our cousins ’round the globe, the less we fear one another, and the more we understand our fellow citizens of the world.  Indeed, I named my “Imagine” travel company after John Lennon’s song for good reason: “Imagine all the people; Living life in peace.”

4. How has travel changed you, or, what do you expect to gain from your upcoming travels?

Each and every new land that I explore changes me a bit, and happily reminds me once again, how I (and my native land) are but a tiny chunk of the diversity among the fascinating peoples of this wondrous Planet.  A mere speck of sand on the global beach.  My travels have definitely opened my mind to different ways of doing things (incl. political, economical and social policies like education, health care, women’s rights, micro-lending, etc.), and bolstered my capacity for compassion. Above all, travel humbles me, and never ceases to put all the big and little worries of life into perspective.

The truth is, once you’ve looked up at the moon on the other side of the globe, you’ll never gaze at the moon in your own back yard quite the same again.  For that same moon likewise shines down on all the peoples of the earth as they sleep in mud huts and skyscrapers alike.  You’ve been there.  You’ve chatted with the people under that same moon.  You’ll never forget.

5. Tell us about your “Uncle Calvin”.

Oh my, I have many “Uncle Calvins” in my life.  Indeed I seem to be ever knee-deep in them!

My own family and close friends have long accepted that I’m a tad nuts, and they now kindly humor me in whatever new travel scheme I happen to dream up.  But most every other acquaintance I bump into neatly falls into one of two categories:  Half truly believe I’m certifiable.  Dangerously reckless even.  And no doubt will meet with some g-awful calamity whence I next step off a plane.  Sadly, these folks are hopelessly lost, and nothing I say will persuade them that my travels aren’t an irresponsible death-wish.  Needless to say, from this flavor of “Uncle Cal”, I steer decidedly clear.

And the other half of my “Uncle Cals”?  The refrain that we travelers so often (confoundedly) hear:  “Oh, you are sooooo lucky!”  To which I can only reply: “Uh, mere ‘luck’ has nothing to do with it.  Traveling the globe is not based on luck or how rich you are.  It’s based entirely on how much you want it (and thus how many lattes and fancy car payments you’re willing to trade off to do it.) Ah but the sublime rewards!  The suh-weetest, and most rare rewards of travel – utterly priceless!”

6. Help us draft a letter to our Uncle Calvin.  What do you say to someone who believes you are crazy for your decision to be a perpetual traveler?


Follow Dyanne as she gets ready to begin her life as an ex-pat in Vietnam!

Her blog: www.travelnlass.com

On twitter: @travelnlass

21 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • March 30 2011

    Ah, I love that you mentioned those that say we’re so ‘lucky’! I passionately dislike that word and agree wholheartedly – luck has nothing to do with it!
    Penny recently posted..Makeover!

    • Dalene
      March 30 2011

      I was so glad Dyanne brought that up to. It takes an awful lot of work to be able to do this, and a lot of guts!! NOT luck!

      • May 12 2011

        I look at it differently. Whenever I have said “you’re so lucky!” to someone else for doing what I now am going to do (travel the world), I always said it thinking: “you’re so lucky you’re brave enough to do it”. I’m always in awe of the fearlessness and dedication people put in to making RTW trips/lifestyles (or even their dreams) a possibility. And sure, sometimes I say it to wealthy friends when they’re “off to such-and-such with the family” – lucky devils.

        • May 12 2011

          But why “lucky”? I don’t see luck as having much to do with it, really. Most everybody has the potential to do it – it’s just a matter of getting the nerve to do it. And nerve can be attained…it’s not something that I think I am lucky to have! The only “lucky” part of this whole equation (as I see it), is that it was luck of the draw I was born into the family I was, and into the nation that I was, allowing me certain opportunities. But beyond that, I still worked really hard to get to the point where I had the financial capacity to do this…

        • January 31 2012

          Its good to travel, it reduces the degree of primitiveness-besides, life is short and its good to enjoy every minute of your life like there is no next hours! John.

  • Loved this post! What a great inspiration Dyanne is. And your letter to Uncle Calvin was sublime. Following our passion is what we all want for ourselves and our children, so why do we seem to have so much trouble following our dreams or being Uncle Calvins when our children do? Doesn’t make sense, does is?
    Debbie – European Travelista recently posted..European Travelista – Month 2

    • Dalene
      March 30 2011

      Not to speak for my Uncle Cal personally, but I think a lot of it has to do with fear. Fear of the unknown, and the belief that the world is just a big scary place. In some parts it definitely is, but for the most part, the same things that happen while traveling can also happen down the block from your childhood home!

  • March 31 2011

    Tee hee…anxiously waiting for a response from Uncle Cal. 🙂
    Teri recently posted..Writing Contest

    • Dalene
      March 31 2011

      Ohhh…I’m not sure we’ll get one of those! *Hoping*… 🙂

  • April 1 2011

    It’s always a pleasure and somehow reassuring to read interviews like this one. I’ve been an expat for almost six years and I can’t see myself settling somewhere. Sometimes I do think there’s something wrong with me though..maybe when I see everybody I know settling down…
    I totally agree that traveling can contribute to world’s peace, you can absolutely see the difference between travelers and non: who has no idea about what they can find beyond their own garden are usually at least suspicious, while I think this is so misleading and dangerous. What I could see by traveling to quite a few countries, is that people around the world don’t want to harm each other, they just want to carry on with their life with as little problem as possible.
    You’re right, we all belong to the human race, no matter what culture or religion, we are all the same. Well stated 🙂
    Angela recently posted..In the desert- discovering Abu Dhabi roots

    • Dalene
      April 2 2011

      Angela – 6 years – wow! I wonder that about ourselves somewhat…in that, will we ever want to settle down somewhere? I don’t thing there’s anything *wrong* with any of us for living the lives of perpetual travelers, although sometimes I wish that we didn’t have these longings to roam, wouldn’t life be much easier? Just less fulfilling, I guess…

      Well stated is right, my favourite part of this interview is how Dyanne talked about the contribution to world peace. I could have never found the words to answer that question as she had, yet I wholeheartedly feel the same way! 🙂

  • April 2 2011

    I have an inner Uncle Calvin that reminds me from time to time of pension plans etc, and I am going to start paying him more attention.

    My Uncle Calvin letter? “Dear Uncle Calvin, I know you understand why I want to travel. But the internet makes it possible for me to work, earn and educate my son while I do so. I have to work and earn much less to travel and live well than I would to stay at home; my son and I get time together we would never have back home; and his global education leaves him way ahead of where he would be at home. But, yes, you are right about the pension plan. Love and kisses, and I do understand your concern.”
    Theodora recently posted..7 Practical Things To Do Before You Start Longterm Travel

    • Peter
      April 2 2011

      That’s awesome Theodora! And you make a very good point – I don’t think people realize that to live this way is actually *cheaper* then living settled somewhere. We worried enough about PP’s in our 20’s, we’re gonna try and not think about those for a while.

  • April 2 2011

    this is such an uplifting and great interview — thank you!
    Michael Hodson recently posted..The Hostel Owners’ Guide- The How-to’s… Please!

    • Dalene
      April 2 2011

      Thanks to Dyanne!! I knew she’d bring “the goods”. 🙂

  • April 3 2011

    What a great interview and thanks for introducing me to Dyanne. I don’t think I have any Uncle Clavin left in my life. They have all accepted my way of life or drifted away.
    Natalie recently posted..Turkish Women – Meet A Mother Called Hatica

    • Dalene
      April 3 2011

      Dyanne has a great blog so I’m glad to be the one to introduce you to her! We’ve lost some of our “Uncle Calvin’s” along the way as well – but my *real* Uncle Calvin, we won’t let him off the hook that easy. We’re trying our damndest to convince him! 🙂

  • April 11 2011

    great interview. thanks for introducing us!
    Margo recently posted..Memories of Finding New Life on the MS Stockholm

    • Peter
      April 11 2011

      You are welcome. Dyanne is such a great person and we LOVE her posts.

  • Very inspirational interview! Great answers. I think my family and friends have accepted that I’m nuts too. 🙂
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Photo of the Week- Burning Himalaya Mountains

    • May 11 2011

      After this third installment, I’m beginning to understand that I think it’s *okay* that everyone thinks we’re crazy. Maybe we are. Perhaps that should be celebrated! 🙂

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