Ready, Set, Travel

Passenger Conners and a volcano

For the past few years, I’ve saved my income as best I could, dutifully meeting a financial advisor, nodding responsibly as he highlighted my retirement options and murmuring agreeably as he’d point to certain savings and say, “Now this here is what you can use toward down payment on a home.”

I played the part of the American dream, for sure. But deep inside my heart, not for one second, did I really believe that my savings would go toward an equity-growing house. Sure, I got why it all made sense, but never did home ownership spark even the wee possibility of excitement in me. And it took some hardcore soul-searching to understand that what I really want, hope and work for has been the journey of my dreams:

A 7-month trek around the world.

Morphing this dream into a reality has been a work in progress, a long time coming if I really think about it — though the idea began to take shape as a real possibility sometime in January 2010, as good ideas often do, over a whiskey nightcap and a chat with a friend.

During the last 4 years, I’ve had the fortune to build my world in Philadelphia, creating a life surrounded by kind and fascinating friends and my family, all while working on a career I feel truly passionate about.

Still, I’ve desperately hoped to have the chance to travel long-term at least once more in my life, and wondered if I’d ever be in a circumstance where that would be possible. This summer I came to finally, really believe in what I already knew: YES it’s possible, I just had to deem it so and make it happen.

And so I have. I leave in 2 days, starting my travels in Turkey, then India, the Maldives, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. And the best part is, I’ll get to travel alongside one of my favorite people: he of the whiskey nightcap chat turned reality.

I’ve closed a lot of chapters in my 34 years, and some I admit I’ve slammed shut. Not this one. Not at all. I’ve had an extraordinary few years of personal growth; meeting people who’ve challenged me, and most importantly inspired me.

I’m thankful to be setting off on an adventure filled with gratitude for where I’ve been — a place which has left me ecstatic to see where I may, in fact, be going.


  1. hooray! I can’t wait to hear about every adventure along the way.

  2. Yeah for you!! I cannot wait to read about your adventures & live a little vicariously through you! 🙂 All the best for a safe, enjoyable and eye opening trip!

  3. Goosebumps, Val. You give me goosebumps. It’s always a good time for an adventure. Luck and Love.

  4. O Passenger Conners! Be safe and have the time of your life! I love, love, love you!

  5. Take off and enjoy every minute of it, Val! This is a great thing for you to do.

  6. Here you go!!!! What an amazing journey it will be, I’m sure of it. Fly away with your eyes and heart wide open my fellow black sheep. xo

  7. So excited for you, Val. Whenever you’re doing something incredible out there, please just remember us little people back home…

  8. Enjoy the Journey. I will live vicariously through your posts as I’m sure many will.

  9. oh my gosh, so excited for you!! enjoy and cherish every moment. so few people in this world even have the guts to do something so wonderful. be safe.

  10. Oh, Valerie! I’m so happy, excited and routing for you! I’m glad to see you will be writing a blog so I can keep up with you and your adventures. Very safe travels and hope you have the time of your life. If you ever want to call me while you’re waiting for a plane or train please do. I’m still bummed we played phone tag the last 2 months and didn’t actually get to talk. Love you! You go girl! BTW, hook up with my blog as well, if you like, because that is a good way to keep up with what’s going on in my world and head. We can follow each others blog! All the best to you my friend…
    xoxoxo, Kimbally

    • Valerie Conners says:

      Oh, my Kimbally! I miss you so – I will most certainly be following your blog so we can still be in eachother’s life, albeit virtually. love you to bits!

  11. As always… well said, my friend. Can’t wait to follow you RTW! (PS – cutest picture ever.)

  12. Best of success, Valerie! And send us a story at Big World Magazine if you like!
    All the best,
    Mary D’Ambrosio

  13. Val, I’ll be following this and living vicariously through you. Home ownership sucks, by the way. You made the right choice. I can’t wait for you to get to SE Asia – my favorite place in the world. You must go to Rai Leh beach in Krabi, Thailand. Do some rock climbing, hiking, and sit on Princess Beach for days on end. In fact, if you can stay there until July 2012, Brodie and I will meet you (we’re hoping to return then). Bon voyage!

    • Valerie Conners says:

      Thanks so much, Claudia! I will be hoping for lots more of your expertise as soon as I reach SE Asia (late November, early December)! hope you’re all well 🙂

  14. Bravo.

  15. Best wishes, boo! I look forward to reading more about your exciting new journey. We’ll miss you, but your second family is extremely proud of you. Travel safely and we’ll be waiting with open arms when you come back. Luv ya!

  16. I’m soooo excited for you!! Reading your post made me swell with the joy that I know fulfilling a dream comes with. I’ll miss a gossip partner for the next 7 months, but I know you’ll have 100,000 stories to tell when you come back and a lifetime of experience to share.

    Good luck!! Can’t wait to hear more!


  17. Bon voyage. I’ll keep my ear to the RSS for tall tales of your travels!

  18. YAY PASSENGER CONNERS!! Bold. Brave. Bitchin’. RTW = Rock the World! So proud of you. xoxo

  19. So awesome, Val! I will be so happy to follow your adventures. And I’ll hope we’ll cross paths somewhere along the way…wishing you lots of fun, luck and love!

  20. Nicole Borrelli Hearn says:

    Hip Hip Hooray!!! be safe! did you get any shots? do you need shots? i look forward to following along. big kiss and Bon Voyage!

    • Valerie Conners says:

      oooh, i have gotten my shots, indeed! yellow fever, be damned! xoxox love to you and your family!

  21. Eileen Seghers says:

    You go girl ! Trip the light fantastic! God Speed and God Bless.

  22. Oh darlin’: am I gonna miss you somethin’ fierce. I can’t believe you’re leaving tomorrow! Its going to rule, you know. Bon voyage, gite. I love you!

  23. Valerie,
    First off, a round of applause!
    You are so awesome for realizing your dreams and making it happen. I start my own journey in about 4 days and I’m scared and excited at the same time. I’ve been planning since July and I know I’m ready. I even know how I’m going to sweet-talk customs in London.
    You are an inspiration to others and to myself. I wish you the very best in your travels and hope to see you in Thailand along with Paula 🙂

  24. natalie meltzer says:

    How wonderful it is to follow your dream. I’m looking forward to reading about your adventure. Have a wonderful, safe journey.

  25. Dina Borrelli Hillmann says:

    Valerie!! It’s been way too many years since we’ve seen each other! Just got the big update from mom and had to get connected. Wow! I so love to hear the passion in your words. It’s inspiring! I wish you all the best, much love and safe travels.

    • Valerie Conners says:

      yes, I know – it has been far too long – but better late than never, right? So glad we’ve reconnected – hope you and the family are all well!

  26. Rhea R. Auerbach says:


    I’ll be following your travels with great interest. Be safe, be well and have the time of your life. Love you…..Rhea

    • Valerie Conners says:

      Thank yo, Rhea – and thanks for all your help getting me on the road in good health! love you!

  27. Marie Erbicella says:

    Dearest Valerie: Uncle Fred and I were so happy to hear of your wonderful trip. How I wish I had your courage and determination a long time ago! I am thrilled that you can do what is going to make you very happy. A world traveler!! Who knew??
    Have a wonderful, safe and happy time. I am looking forward to enjoying it vicariously through your happy stories!!
    Love you!!
    Aunt Marie

    • Valerie Conners says:

      Hi Aunt Marie! Thanks so much for following along, and for your kind words of support. I love knowing you and Uncle Fred will be in touch! Love you!

  28. And she’s off!!! Whoohoo! Full of glee for you.

  29. You and your great adventure just amaze me! The pictures were fabulous. Have fun, spread your wings, take care and be well. To follow your words and your pictures will be my great adventure now. I love you so and I am so proud of you.
    Love and a huge hug,

  30. I love the pictures! The coffee and pastry reminded me of Belgium! Your city shots are intriguing, reminds me sort of like 9th street in a way! You know what I mean. So exciting.
    Love and huge hugs,Momala

  31. Istanbul is my favorite city! I spent 5 months living there and I barely scratched the surface. There is so much to see!

    • Valerie Conners says:

      oh wow – I wish I had known – that was my first reaction: I need more time! It’s fine to see the big sights in a few days, but i just don’t feel like I got to REALLY know the city – alas!

  32. So incredibly exciting Val! Hard to realize that my first month doing the full time travel thing is already over. Soak it up and enjoy and hope our travel paths cross in the future! Look forward to keeping up with your journey!