How I Fell In Love With Independent Travel

I’ve spent the majority of my time with you talking about how to travel, but I think it’s important for you to also know why I want to help you see the world. Independent travel is so gratifying, but it took a lot of learning and various travel experiences for me to really become an expert in traveling abroad. From the dreams of a little girl to spending years traveling across Europe, Beyond Reservations has been a long time in the making. Here’s how it all started…

The Early Years

I’d dreamed of seeing the world since I was probably 7 or 8, old enough to realize there was a whole lot more than my little corner of the globe. My dad used to visit Italy for work every once in a while, and on his travels met a friend who came to stay with us once, Marino. 

He brought plastic necklaces in a rainbow of colors that any little girl would love, taught me how to make the paper dolls that have all their little hands connected, and gifted me a beautiful golden crucifix necklace that I wanted to wear at all the fancy occasions an 8-year-old attends. I was so curious about this person from a faraway land, with his accent and fun presents! As I went through school learning about different parts of the world, Italy remained at the top of my list of places I wanted to see.

The Game Changer

stockholm-sweden-skyline-imageFast forward roughly 18 years later, to September 5, 2008. I’d just moved my life back to Utah for a position that I felt completely unqualified for, but it held the possibility for international travel so I jumped all over it! I’d recently received my shiny new passport and was itching to use it. Thankfully, I was scheduled to be in Brazil for a trade show in just a few weeks! 

On this particular day, my boss came into my office and informed me that I needed to visit four of our facilities in Europe for a product launch we were doing. Then he said, “Oh, and I need you to leave tomorrow. Make your plans, go home and pack.” Holy shit balls, what?! I used our corporate travel agent to make my arrangements, drove home as fast as I could, threw whatever I thought I would need in a GIANT silver suitcase (that monster weighed at least 60 pounds by the time I came home) and tried not to freak out. I would be spending the next two and a half weeks visiting different areas of Sweden, Germany, France, and Austria. First stop, Stockholm!

The First Adventure

The next morning I got myself to the airport after a night of basically no sleep because I was so excited and nervous. After a layover or two along the way, we descended out of the clouds and onto a runway surrounded by misty pine forest. My first glimpse of Europe! I’d dreamed about this day for as long as I could remember and felt like my heart was going to come tearing out of my chest with joy and gratitude. The first thing that came into my mind was, “I’m finally home.” I know, I was surprised when I had the thought too! Still to this day, when I visit most places in Europe, that’s how I feel. <3

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Salzburg, Austria 2008

By the time I landed, it was September 7 and this is the day that changed my whole life. I’ll never forget standing in the passport control line (yes, I hadn’t even left the airport) and knowing this is what I wanted to do forever. That was the moment I decided I would pursue this dream to the ends of the earth – I wasn’t going to have children, every job I would take from that point on would have to give me more flexibility to travel, this is where all my extra time and money would go. It became my mission to make travel as much as possible and for as long as possible. This was my life’s purpose, to grab every single opportunity, see as much of the world as I could, and share it with anyone who wanted to listen. 

The next eighteen days were magic! I met the most amazing people, visited places I’d read about in history books or seen on the news, and experienced so many new ways of life. Every single minute I wasn’t in an office, I was exploring. What’s around that corner? What’s this new dish I’ve never seen or heard about? What does this person next to me at the pub do for a living? I was in. Hook, line, and sinker. This was it, I had to find a way to make this my life!

I don’t know that I’d ever learned so much in such a short amount of time. I learned that my hairdryer would blow the fuck up when I plugged into European outlets, even with a converter! I discovered that a couple of Irish ladies in Salzburg, Austria could outdrink my 26-year-old self without a second thought. Surprise, the weather in Sweden is NOT the same as Utah in early September! I eventually bought a coat at the airport in Germany after freezing my ass off for a week, and it’s still one of my favorites. <3 

Where We Are Today

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Kauai, Hawaii 2019

Here we are, almost 11 years and 30 countries later. After two shorter international trips for work, the financial crisis put a halt to company-sponsored travel, so I was on my own. I met my husband the following April, and our very first conversation was about travel. We took our first trip together that summer and I finally got to see Rome and the iconic sights of Italy I’d dreamed about for nearly 20 years. We planned the whole thing ourselves, and it was glorious! We made our own agenda, found hidden gems, ate all the food, and I loved every single minute of it. Still, to this day, it never gets old!

I want to help everyone who has the desire to see the world bring it to life! It’s difficult to put into words how the experiences of traveling independently have changed me. They’ve given me a greater perspective, more compassion, creative problem solving, and a thousand other benefits that are completely intangible. 

This is why I’m here and what I want to do for you! Tell me how I can help, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure you get on that plane to see all those places you’ve been dreaming about.

Now get out there, the world is waiting for you!

2 Thoughts to “How I Fell In Love With Independent Travel”

  1. Karen Hibl

    Love your story!

    1. Annie

      Thank you so much! <3

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