“Adventure is out there!” This line comes from the beloved Disney and Pixar movie Up, said by the traveler and explorer Charles Muntz. His enthusiasm for traveling touched the hearts and minds of many, including two young children, Carl and Ellie, who would meet, marry, and dream of traveling to South America because of him. It is a good movie to teach children and even adults that traveling is an adventure and that if one wants to travel, one needs to take the steps to make it happen. Married couple Frank (Skip) and Gabi Yetter were tired of the mundane, wanted to travel, made it happen, continue to make it happen, and wrote Just Go!: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure to tell everyone of their travels.
The Yetters had a good life in the states: a happy marriage, good health, two daughters who went to college, and a good paying job to support them. Why, some may ask, would they give up that life to travel and live in a country halfway across the world they knew little about? The truth was simple: they weren’t happy. Skip says in Just Go!: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure that he dreaded Sundays for he knew that it meant the following day would be the beginning of more meetings, more presentations, more everyday life. Even retirement wasn’t looking too fulfilling for them. “The numbers didn’t add up, even though by most standards we’d had good fortune and a decent nest egg upon which to build our future. If we were to remain in the U.S., living the same standard of living, it meant I was far from done running on the treadmill,” (Yetter 31). As the title of their book says, Skip and Gabi chose to get off the treadmill that is normal life and set off together out into the world to find their adventure.
Just Go!: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure is truly an inspiring work to read and one that anyone, whether one is traveling, in the process of getting ready to travel, or perfectly content where one is, will enjoy. Skip and Gabi are true storytellers and how they tell their story makes readers want to keep reading and turning the page. Readers get to hear from both Skip and Gabi, the couple taking turns sharing their story in prose and in journal entries. And not only do readers get to just hear about Skip and Gabi, but they also get to hear stories from other travelers as well in the second section of their book.
It is truly inspiring reading what Skip and Gabi endured. It is easy to dream about doing something, but the most difficult part in making that dream come true is taking the first step. Whether that first step is researching where one wishes to go, talking about it with one’s spouse or family, or simply just packing up and going, dreams of traveling will never become a reality until that first step is taken. The beginning of something new is always hard because it is different and it is human nature to be weary and even afraid of something different, of change. “Some people hate change. Some, like Gabi, love it, embracing new challenges and opportunities like a child tucking into an ice cream sundae. And some — like moi — engage in a lengthy dance with change that falls somewhere between avoidance/acceptance and manic pursuit of something new,” (Yetter 21). That is where the title of the book, yet again, comes into play and what many of the travelers Skip and Gabi interviewed also tell others: Just go! Don’t just sit on the couch fantasizing about traveling. Get up and actually travel.
Not only do Skip and Gabi tell their story. As aforementioned, they tell the stories of others and they also give helpful advice to future travelers on what to consider before or during their travels. The Yetters and the other travelers cover everything from money to downsizing to housing to eating to even traveling with other family members. Though each story was different and each person or people traveled for different reasons, each obtained something similar: a sense of happiness. Many talked about how the hardest thing to leave behind was their families; how after returning home from a few months or years traveling, consumerism was no longer part of their lifestyles; how everything was not always picture perfect and that there were bumps and potholes in the road, but these bumps and holes made the traveling that much more adventurous; and so on. With the near 30 different travelers Skip and Gabi interviewed, readers get to experience all of these stories and become inspired to do some traveling of their own.
Skip and Gabi are not telling readers to drop everything they are doing and go travel to an exotic country. They are simply telling their story along with other stories and encouraging those who wish to or have ever considered traveling that these dreams will not become a reality until one takes that first step to do it. Just Go!: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure is a good-feel book and a book to inspire. Though it can be repetitive at times, repetition sticks and will always have future travelers keeping important facts in the back of their minds. Memorable quotes and inspirational sayings will also stick with the readers, like “Get busy living or get busy dying” from The Shawshank Redemption (Yetter 62). How they write will also have readers thinking of Yoda from Star Wars, “Do or do not, there is no try.” A very memorable quote said by one of the travelers they interviewed, Susan Spencer, sums up traveling in just a few sentences. “Living in another country helps you realize how wrong you were about all the things you were so sure about. It changes our minds, changes our perspectives and priorities. It is humbling and energizing at the same time. It can be inspiring and frustrating, but it is always just plain interesting. You have to accept that you are going to make a lot of mistakes (only in retrospect are they mistakes) and bad decisions (ditto) and probably get scammed and scared and be uncomfortable a good part of the time, but your life will change and you will change and somehow that will give you a sense of peace and satisfaction that you couldn’t get through all your other strivings” (Yetter 230).
Originally published at www.examiner.com on November 22, 2015.