Dear Advisor Partners,
If your circles are anything like mine, you probably often hear the phrase, travel transforms. I love that phrase! As we know, travel does transform lives, we even see it happening to ourselves as we travel. Think about your first trip outside your homeland to an adventure destination and the first impact that it had on you. It must still be unforgettable. Our team at Big Five saw this happening in real time with our colleague Courtney Miller, who helps write this very blog you read every week. Courtney is new to the travel industry and her visit to Peru was her first trip outside the US. This week’s video captures her journey, and we even used her experience to build a “Tips for a first-time traveler” document. This was designed for those of you traveling abroad for the first time or for those of you who haven’t traveled in a while and would like a fun reminder of some of the little things we all forget. Below is a letter that Courtney wrote to the Big Five team while sitting in Cusco before her departure. It captures her emotion so well, each word more powerful than the previous. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as everyone here did. This is transformation, in real time, and this is the reminder we all needed, why we love this business. Enjoy this week’s video and feel free to share the Tips for a First Time Traveler document.
So, I’m sitting here in the Cusco Airport, I got here 4 hours early to try and get on an earlier flight and luckily, I did. Leaving Peru is bittersweet, I really felt at home here. The people, the FOOD, the culture, the history, the dozens of dogs I got to pet (yes, they’re super dirty, but they just wanted some love and I have hand sanitizer!!!), everything about this country just felt so comfortable. I am going to miss it terribly, but I miss my kiddo and dog more at the moment.
To try and put my trip and experiences into a few words is impossible. As my first true international trip, (carnival cruises don’t count) I have learned a TON of lessons. First, pack light. I am so tired of lugging around my 40-pound duffle bag, camera bag, laptop bag and bookbag. I could have made a couple outfits work, I didn’t need my makeup or tripod, I didn’t even use my straightener or curling iron, and shoes….I only wore my hiking boots the whole time so 4 pairs were a bit excessive.
I think the most important thing I’ve realized though is when people say, “you realize how much you take for granted when you travel” meaning internet, tv, electricity, clean water etc., I think they have it wrong. They’re looking at the wrong thing. For me, this trip has reminded me that there is so much more to life than internet, phone and tv. Seeing the people in Iquitos, living in what we would barely call a shack, jumping over piles of trash and wearing mismatched clothes, that’s when it hit me. We don’t take our technology for granted; we’ve forgotten what’s important in life. These people living off the fruit they sell that they harvested themselves had the biggest smiles on their faces, just sitting around talking with neighbors as they wave away flies with a giant leaf. Further down the road I saw a man and his kids laughing while dangling their feet into a pond off a rickety dock that they clearly threw together themselves, that was attached to their house. Their lives are simple, yet they are happy. The “shacks” as I initially thought of them were really just homes adapted to the environment; on stilts to avoid floods, open walls near the roof to let the breeze through yet made from nature with minimal permanent impact. I think we have been so blinded by phones, technology, internet, and social media, so focused on making more and more money, that we’ve completely lost sight of true happiness and how to truly LIVE our lives.
And all of this was realized on my first day, within the first couple hours before I even got on the Delfin III amazon cruise. The amount of change my entire spirit, heart, mind and soul have gone through in these past two weeks is just mind blowing. My entire outlook on life has drastically changed. My goals and priorities have been completely replaced. And I’m happy to say I owe it all to you [Ashish], Gisela, Big Five and our team on the ground. Without this opportunity you guys handed me, I would have never been able to enjoy a trip like this and I seriously must thank you from the bottom of my heart, which has grown much bigger to fit everyone I’ve met and grown to know. I’ll never be able to say thank you enough!