When Plans Change

I’ve always had a passion for travel.

I recently rummaged through my old passports, and as I opened the cover of one of them, a child no older than four years old gazed back at me. It appears that my parents knew that I was born to see the world.

I grew up in the United States Virgin Islands. Yes, I grew up on the same islands that people all over the world travel to for relaxing vacations and fun in the sun.

Our tropical surroundings did not stop my family from traveling. Every summer, during my years in elementary school, my mom would make sure we traveled somewhere. I looked forward to these vacations with great anticipation. No matter the destination, I was always ready to travel. Every flight was an adventure.

When I was in middle school, we moved to the mainland, and my mom still had one trip planned each summer. Our vacations weren’t expensive or glamorous, but they took me to new places to see new things.

I finished college and started my career as an elementary school teacher, and travel wasn’t a priority. I had summers off, but I had grownup responsibilities. My summer paychecks paid bills and a car note. Two years into my career, I met the love of my life and then there was a wedding to plan. Yep, I had fallen in love and the arms of adulthood wrapped themselves around me.

Travel took a vacation.

Fast forward seven years and add two kids, a house, and a chapter in the Book of Life called, “Full Time Adulthood.” There were the occasional trips to visit family, but nothing along the lines of a dream vacation.

In 2009, Disney Cruise Line came out with an itinerary that included the US Virgin Islands. I was so excited that I would be able to visit my home again! Following in my footsteps, my kids already had passports, and I was ready for a relaxing vacation. We booked our cruise (YAY!), started to save, and started dreaming sweet tropical dreams.

I can’t remember when it happened, but we did the math and realized that despite our best efforts at saving, we were not going to be able to save the total amount due for our cruise.

B-U-M-M-E-R.

But when life gives you lemons, you book a less expensive cruise.

We called Disney Cruise Line, transferred the payments we already made to a 2010 booking and started researching other cruises. Norwegian Cruise Line had a ship that departed from a port near our home, so we booked two inside cabins and embarked on our first cruise.

We didn’t have extra money, so we didn’t book excursions. When the ship docked at a port, we got off the ship with the kids, strolled around the port and went back to the ship. What we discovered about being on a ship is that it is a city at sea that provides live entertainment, relaxation, family time, and all the food we wanted to eat. The towel animals that appeared in our room after dinner fascinated us. A travel experience that should have been a downer was actually a motivator. We wanted more of the #cruiselife.

There is a definition of experience that I really like:
the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something

My experience taught me three things:

1. Even if plans must change, travel can fit any budget.

2. Disappointment can be turned into opportunity by trying something different.

3. Change gives you choices.

Disappointment would be the catalyst that would reignite my spirit of adventure. A change of plans started a journey that has crossed the globe. Years later, we still talk about our “starter cruise” and the lessons it taught us.

Is there a time when a challenge became an instrument of change in your life?

Cruise origins circa 2009: The Norwegian Spirit
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Welcome to Cozumel!
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A colorful Cozumel parade