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Posted by Jessica on Mar 9, 2009
Travel Pushers

As "travel pushers" (a term I am coining for travel-addicts who encourage other folks to travel, travel, travel too), Tim and I enjoy relating our stories from faraway lands in the hopes of inspiring other people and sharing information with fellow travelers. Sometimes we're more successful than we know.

A few years ago, I was flying from DC to California for some work I was doing for Elephant Nature Foundation. I was sitting next to a guy in his early twenties and a few hours into the flight we got to talking. It didn't take long for me to discover he was about to embark on a lengthy first-time trip through Central and South America. When our plane landed in San Diego, I scribbled the address of HedgehogsWithoutBorders on a piece of paper and mentioned it was a travel site with lots of stories about South America. For some reason (and looking back, I'm not sure why), I didn't mention it was my site. Taking the piece of paper, he looked at the website address and said, "I know this site. I read it all the time."

Huh. Who knew?

During Christmas this past year, Tim and I were enjoying telling my oldest sister Sheila about our recent trip to Mexico City. Our tales of friendly locals, fantastic food, and fabulous artwork made her eyes light up. Knowing that Sheila and her husband Jeff have been itching for their first-time international travel experience, we mentioned that Mexico City would be a great "starter city" for someone leaving the US for the first time. (Which it would be, that wasn't just a line we were telling my sister.)

When we mentioned wanting to return again in the Spring, she said, "You know, we have some vacation time coming up at the end of March...." And off to the races we went! A few weeks later, Sheila and Jeff had their first US passports. A few weeks after that, we all bought our plane tickets. And somehow along the way we convinced them that traveling without luggage (hedgehog style!) and not booking a hotel ahead of time (hedgehog mantra!) was a really great way to travel.

It's an understatement for me to say I'm really impressed with how easily they're both jumping into this type of traveling with both feet.

Of course – and I say this as a baby sister who tends to worry a lot, and not a fellow traveler – I have a twinge of worry that everything will be a disaster. We'll land in Mexico City and discover all the lodging is full, all the stores will be closed, no food will be found anywhere, and we'll all be stuck in a foreign city: homeless, hungry, and inevitably without something really important that we didn't have room to pack.

But as a traveler, I know everything will turn out fine.

And that's one of the real beauties of traveling, isn't it? No matter how you travel – whether it's backpacking or flashpacking, tour groups or cross-country drives, week-long cruises or weekend jaunts – travel is what you make of it. Hardly any trip will turn out how you expect, and wanting it to is a recipe for disappointment and frustration. But letting things happen, letting the road guide your way, rarely ends in anything but memorable experiences you never would have anticipated.

When we created HedgehogsWithoutBorders, it was primarily to keep in contact with our friends and family while we were on our round-the-world trip. I never would have anticipated meeting a stranger on a plane who had used it as a resource for information. I surely never anticipated inspiring a family member to join us on future travels. And so it looks like this is one of the real beauties of our journaling for so long too.

Huh. Who knew?

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March 15, 2009 at 3:43pm
We cannot wait for this adventure! What a great first trip out of the country with our private "tour guides". We love you two!
Jessica the hedgehog
March 18, 2009 at 7:38am
We're so excited too! We'll see you in the Mexico City airport the day after tomorrow! We'll be holding a sign so you guys can find us easily too. Love you both! :)

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