Suitcases are now strewn across our bedroom as we get ready to load up our car for our big road trip, which starts tomorrow morning. I find myself thinking back to the last time I set off on a major road trip, in 1975. I had just graduated from college and left to backpack around the world with my friend, Mitch. (We’ll be visiting him in Portland in a few weeks.) He and I traveled for seven months across Asia, Africa and Europe. We visited Belgium, France, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt and Italy. The entire trip cost $2,100 each, airfares included. Along the way, we traversed the Khyber Pass, hiked the Himalayas, were arrested by Idi Amin’s goons in Uganda and had too many adventures to count.
That trip changed my life, making me more self-confident and curious about the world. A year after we returned, I joined the Peace Corps in Nepal, which also proved transformative, and not only because I met Champa. Travel showed me the possibilities life offers, which our daily routines tend to obscure.
Mitch and I traveled with only backpacks. Tomorrow, Champa and I set off in a Ford Fusion crammed with clothes, gifts, brochures and snacks. I know she and I won’t see those two Afghan boys who sold me a pair of colorful woolen socks on the streets of Kabul in 1975. But I’m confident something else is waiting to make us see differently.