How I Turned My Business Idea into a Passport to the World

My sister, brother, and I are all convinced that wanderlust is in our DNA. We inherited it from our father who would seize any opportunity to pack us all in the family station wagon and head out to parts unknown. Unlike our less adventurous neighbors, we assumed that travel was an important and necessary part of life.

Then adulthood arrived and I found myself settling in. Travel, was suddenly not part of the agenda as I worked hard at fitting in to a life that didn’t suit me at all. Instead of seeing this as a call to change, I began to fear there was something terribly wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be satisfied with doing the same job for 40 years? Living in the same small town where I grew up? What if I never saw places that I dreamed about?

Meanwhile, despite my best efforts, my wanderlust never went away. I’d get teary when I’d see an airplane flying overhead. To add to my anxiety, there were enthusiastic reports from my archaeologist sister who had settled happily in Athens, Greece. Would I ever see Greece myself? It seemed highly unlikely.

I made some feeble attempts at starting a secret travel fund, but found myself emptying it to pay an urgent bill. Of course, that added to my fears that I would never see the world for myself.

Things began to change when I met a man who became my informal mentor. He was a successful entrepreneur who was wildly enthusiastic about personal growth and development. Personal growth and development? I had no idea what that meant. I hadn’t studied such things in all my years of schooling. I didn’t know anyone who read books like “Think and Grow Rich,” but I was desperate and followed his promptings.

To my delight, I discovered that my optimism had not been smothered. My imagination began to make regular visits, urging me to reclaim my dreams. I had no idea what form this was going to take nor how I was going to get there, but I boldly acquired a passport. I was going to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.

The missing piece of the puzzle showed up when I got the crazy idea to start my own business. My early idea was to create a personal growth program for women to share the tools and ideas I’d been using to reinvent my life. That evolved into creating a program to share what I’d learned about self-employment.

I began trying out program ideas at an adult education center in my own backyard. It was the perfect place to apprentice. I loved the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with others who were looking to change direction in their lives.

When the director of my local program attended a conference with other adult education leaders, he shared the story of my successful class. Within days, calls began coming in from all over the country inviting me to places I’d never been, but longed to go.

I realized that I didn’t have to just dream about traveling. My business was going to pay me to do so. Unlike the weary corporate road warriors, I encountered at airports, I could pick my destinations, leave time for being a tourist, and make new friends wherever I went.

Eventually, I needed my passport to travel to places where I was speaking. I traveled so much, that one day, coming through customs in London, the agent kept turning pages in my passport looking for a blank page to stamp. “You mean there’s something left for you to see?” he asked. I cried tears of joy as I was heading to pick up my luggage, thinking about his comments and how my business made that passport full of stamps possible.

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