Growing up in a small town (~2000 people) in Vermont made me crave adventures. Initially, I read books about far off places, then I started learning languages, then I started traveling for education, fun, and work. I managed to go to Canada multiple times (it’s not a long drive from anywhere in VT) long before a passport was needed. My favorite teacher was part of a high school summer exchange program in the Soviet Union (and now the country of Georgia, tho’ it wasn’t an independent country at the time) was a dream I made into a reality. The first challenge was convincing my parents to let me go. The second was earning the $5000 in about eight months to pay for the trip. I still prioritize travel over other things.
A college class which also included a trip to St Petersburg, Russia (it took practice to stop calling it Leningrad) was my first experience traveling with “other people’s money”, with a special scholarship. Using other people’s money sounds great but it almost always comes with restrictions. The flip side was needing to earn $5000, legally, for the trip in high school, in a small town in 1987-8 meant working a LOT.
Graduating with degrees in Political Science and European History in the early ’90s didn’t result in lots, ok, any job offers, let alone ones with travel. I landed a job as a receptionist on an IT contract (I needed to pay rent, college loans, etc) and found I had an aptitude for IT and was rapidly and regularly promoted. I remember going into my boss’s office on a Monday and jokingly asking if I could go to Italy for the weekend. On Tuesday, I bought an e-saver ticket for $256 roundtrip including taxes from Philly to Rome, and left on Wednesday then back on Sunday. At the time people thought I was crazy to go so far for so short a time. Maybe, but I’m glad I did it.
A long career in IT has paid off better than I could have ever imagined, both in salary and travel opportunities. I’ve lived and worked in seven countries on three continents and visited 64 countries. Luckily, I like IT and there are jobs worldwide. I once took a job in Germany simply because I hadn’t lived in Europe. Living in a country gives you the time to do more than a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and see the obvious or obscure wonders. It also allows you to explore the region on weekends. On average, every 2-5 years I either move back to the US or back overseas. I think my friends have a running bet on how long I’ll stay anywhere. The more I see the more I want to see.
I like so many things. As a European History major, obviously, castles, palaces, and museums rank high on my must-see list. But I grew up hiking, biking, skiing, swimming and more. I like doing things, ask me to a ball game (any ball game) and I’ll go. Ask me to go see a band and I’ll go. Actually, I’m likely to do the asking. Who wants to go do XXX? I do! I do! I do!
That Rome getaway in the mid-’90s required a trip to a bookstore to buy a guidebook and I found the hotel online (not nearly as many hotels were online then!) It’s so much easier to find information now. Now the challenge is there’s almost too much information. And while the internet has it, if you don’t know how to search or don’t know what you could search for you don’t get the results you need. Yes, it’s easy to search for hotels on the beach in Miami. Yes, it’s easy to search for scuba diving certification courses in Miami too. But what if you also want to see an auto museum, that’s a separate search and only if you know there’s one in Miami.
Our world is full of wonders. Maybe your perfect vacation day is an early jog, breakfast, then a museum, then a hockey game at night. Maybe your ideal vacation day is sleeping in, room service, a zoo, then a dinner cruise. Maybe it’s an all-day hike of The Narrows in Zion National Park. (See main image above.) Maybe it’s biking through vineyards in Burgundy and having a picnic in the courtyard with a bottle of Montrachet you just purchased (which is awesome). Maybe it’s something else entirely. We’ll help you find your wonders.
I reject the idea that wandering must mean aimless. I love the J.R.R. Tolkien quote “Not all who wander are lost”. Wanderonomy was an idea in the back of my head for a long time. Long before it had a name. [Side note it’s really hard to make up a word that has never been used on the internet, ever.] I wanted it to be easy for me to find the things I liked to do. Then I realized I probably wasn’t unique. A long career in IT gave me an advantage, I knew how to search the internet. The problem was it’s never just one search. And it still won’t be. But “There must be a better way!” The idea started as a mashup of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, castles, museums, zoos and quickly grew to so much more.
The WanderonoMap* will allow users to select their wonders and see where they are. Initially, the map layers will be limited as we verify data, but the cool thing is there are so many possible layers. Epic drives, festivals, karaoke, movie locations, and so much more. The map will help you plan your trip, click on a map pin to see some info and a link to more detailed info, double-click to add that to your custom map. We will add layers and pins regularly. And accept suggestions for more! The map can also inspire you to go somewhere you might not have considered. Select hiking and ruins and you’ll see Machu Picchu, Petra, Ephesus (Efes), Baden-Baden and Angkor Wat and more will be added. If you added the spa layer you’d be filtered to Machu Picchu and Baden-Baden, both of which are known for their natural hot springs. Because after a short hike or a long hike sometimes you want a bad (bath in German, also used for hot spring).
We want to help you find your wonders. And the wonders you didn’t know were yours.
I’d love to hear what wonders you recommend!
* WanderonoMap (preview) is currently in development and will launch in 2018.