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Local Ladies Share Travel Tips & Stories From Adventures Around the World

Photographer / Michael Durr

Global travelPursuing your passion takes guts, especially when upending your life is required to create this new alignment. Global travel is at the top of many lists. Many people talk about traveling the world, yet who do you know who has actually uprooted their life to make this radical shift? Debbie Zipes and Cassie Stockamp are two women who independently changed their lifestyles to accommodate global travel.

Having a strategic plan: consulting with a financial advisor, making the necessary life changes to make this happen requires determination and courage, and reliance on a few miracles along the way.

During 2017, Zipes was faced with her second major health crisis within a year. She had a tumor wrapped around the facial nerve in her neck and her surgery was scheduled in a few short weeks. The worst case was that her face would be paralyzed. This was the second episode of an exhaustive healing journey she had undergone in several months. She had a strong sense that she needed to make a lifestyle shift. Online late one night, she typed the following question into her web browser: “What should I do with my life?”

Sites propagated nearly instantaneously beneath her query. The first one that caught her eye was, “What if you had only a year left to live?” Nearly as fast as the search engine displayed these answers, Zipes knew she wanted to travel the world. But how could she afford it?

Serendipitously, the following evening, Zipes attended a social event and met a woman who, when asked what she did for a living, answered, “I travel the world.”

Zipes asked the woman to meet her for coffee a couple days later. The notes Zipes took from that conversation provided the architectural layout for her new life. Global travel was a realistic possibility and not as expensive as she had assumed. Director of a nonprofit, Zipes shared the news with her Board of Directors, who were gracious in their understanding of her need for a newly designed life.

Global travelBy Thanksgiving in 2017, Debbie had a successful recovery from her surgery (no paralysis). She sold her home, her car and her furniture. She moved a few things to storage and left for five months to the south Pacific. Her first destination was Australia.

“I stayed in a hotel in Sydney for the first two nights, then I winged it,” says Zipes, who spent a total of five months in the South Pacific. “I awoke with a positive intention each day to bring peace and brighten the day of those I meet along the way.”

Enter Cassie Stockamp. As Stockamp began to socialize her plan of taking her life in a new direction and focus on service around the world as she traveled, friends and professional acquaintances asked, “Do you know Debbie Zipes?” They were introduced by a mutual friend.

Zipes had nearly a year of travel experience when she met Stockamp for coffee to discuss her experiences. Zipes spent five months traveling around Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Borneo, Malaysia and Singapore. She then traveled throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa for three months. Echoing the need for radical shift in her life, Stockamp shared her desire to travel and the two discussed how to make it a reality. Stockamp departed on her first trip on New Years Eve 2018.

“Having an arrival date of January 1st, 2019 was a perfect start to my new life,” says Stockamp, who, coincidentally, also went to Australia on her first big trip. She has also visited New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Argentina, Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Bali and Indonesia.

Zipes travels for months at a time, while Stockamp prefers shorter sprints of four to five weeks. Both utilize a few websites and connect with local people for a more meaningful experience, which is a safer way to travel when alone. Workaway.com is one of their preferred sites for unique experiences while traveling abroad. Stockamp also instructs yoga and worked in Bali, for instance, teaching classes while embracing local culture.

Global travelIn 2019, Zipes has also traveled to Thailand, Antarctica, England, New Mexico working in a spiritual artist community, Croatia, and went on a delightful road trip to Nebraska to work with Beyond School Bells” and their design studio with college students and after-school programs. Zipes has worked on projects for clients even while traveling.

Then the pandemic hit. Countries were closing their borders while Stockamp was in Colombia and Zipes was in Costa Rica. The two communicated with each other as to how they were going to get home. Stockamp bought three different plane tickets to get home from Colombia, as there is no direct route. Zipes had an easier time getting back to the U.S. from Costa Rica.

Both have created lasting friendships all over the world and have kept in touch with their friends via WhatsApp, checking in during lockdown and hoping for everyone’s safety.

During the lockdown, Zipes and Stockamp planned a trip together. They would cycle around Lake Michigan. They did a test run through northern Indiana and met with a shaman in South Bend who described their adventure as a, “rolling vision quest.” They began their journey in Chicago and are circumventing Lake Michigan, starting with its west coast.

“Do your research! Don’t be afraid to travel alone — there are a lot of great sites offering advice for travelers of any age,” Zipes says. “Pack light. It is worth it to have the best quality clothes and most comfortable walking shoes. Anything lightweight and easy to wash and dry. And a backpack without wheels is best, as there are few smooth roads in third world countries.”

“There’s an app for just about anything,” Stockamp adds. “One of my favorite experiences was caring for someone with special needs while on a trip. Enrichment awaits anyone.”

Vibrancy exudes from both women. Listening to Zipes and Stockamp share their stories is evidence of the magic that is created in one’s life when you honor your calling. Each of these women steered their life in the direction of their dreams and in doing so, doors opened and an abundance of joy poured in.

Stockamp maintains a blog at CassieStockamp.com and Zipes uses her Facebook page as her travel blog.

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