Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Guest Writer | Make Me Think

Jan 15

Should I stay leafToday’s post comes from a woman whom I very much admire. It first appeared on her own blog, Solo Traveler,and it moved me so much that I had to get in touch and ask whether I could cover the story here. She gave her permission for me to reproduce the whole article – and since I don’t think that I can improve on it in any way – I’m very grateful that she did.

So. Over to Janice Waugh from Solo Traveler.

Lonely traveller

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

How does one balance the importance of living in the present with the need to prepare for the future?

Some people don’t contemplate this issue. They simply do what comes naturally – sometimes suffering the consequences of favoring one over the other.

But, if you are one who does consider how to balance the two, where does the answer lie. And, what is the question?  If you love travel, the question is: should I stay or should I go.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go - Father & Son

We chose to go.

Late in 2000 my husband and I decided to go.

We could finally see our way clear to living our dream of long-term travel. Having sold our business and with two sons out the door, one entering his last year of high school and the youngest going into grade six, it all seemed possible.

To others, it may have made more sense to wait, at least a year, but we planned and went. We bet on the present over the future and, as you’ll see, we won.

 How does one balance the importance of living in the present with the need to prepare for the future?

Europe 2001 30002 1024x681 Should I Stay or Should I GoThis was taken in Arles, France. We just had our youngest with us at the time.
Europe 2001 60002 1024x682 Should I Stay or Should I GoTwo of my sons at La Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Our trip of a Lifetime

My husband had traveled a year through South America when I was just entering high school. (He had seven years on me.) I had taken many short trips since I was 15 – a few weeks here, a month there. Together, as we blended our families, started and built a business – we lived a very busy life – we also planned to travel. In 1995, we managed six weeks with kids in France, Scotland and Ireland. But that wasn’t enough. We had bigger plans in mind.

Then in 2000 it seemed right. Our number three son could do his last year at Neuchatel Junior College, a Canadian school in Switzerland, and I would homeschool our youngest. We could rent our house for income (we made $25,000 in ten months) and rent a VW Pop-up camper for transportation and accommodation. Yes, it could all work. We fit the pieces together and left at the end of August 2001.

Over the next 10 months we covered a lot of ground. My mother joined us for a few weeks. The older sons each came over for a time. It was a free-flowing trip of a lifetime. When we needed to feel settled, we stayed. When we’d had enough of a location, we simply moved on.

Life Without Regrets

We came home in June of 2002 which is a perfect time to return. The summer is slower than most times of the year and gave us two months to prepare for the real new year, September.

However, while the kids and I settled back into our home life, my husband became less settled. Was it the culture shock of re-entry? We couldn’t tell at first but his life, our life, got very complicated. And it became even more so over the next few years.

In 2006, my husband was finally diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a very rare neurological disease that first shows itself in personality changes and later with debilitating physical changes.  He passed away later that year on December 9th.

While our choice to take an extended trip at that particular time of life may have seemed odd to some, it made sense to us. At least, we made it make sense. We put our present and our future on a scale and chose to live in the present for that year. And, at the time, we had no idea that it was our last chance to do so.

Should you stay or should you go?


Janice Waugh is the author of the Solo Traveler’s Handbook, publisher of Solo Traveler, the blog for those who travel alone and moderator of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. The blog offers solo travel stories, tips, safety advice and destination ideas as well as a couple of free ebooks, including Glad You’re Not Here – A Solo Traveler’s Manifesto.

Photo credit: young woman looking apprehensive – Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered whether to stay or whether to go?

Jim @NeverStopTraveling January 16, 2012

A very touching story which I hadn’t seen before on Janice’s blog. Thanks for republishing it.

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    You’re welcome

darlene foster January 16, 2012

A perfect example of following your gut and not putting things off. So many put things off until it is too late. What a wonderful story that needs to be shared. I’d like to share a quote that showed up in my inbox today:
“What you are planning to do tomorrow, do today; what you are going to do today, do right now.”
-Indian Proverb
There seems to be a theme, perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something!

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    Well, apart from tax returns, I’d say…Leave those for as long as you can! ;)

      Darlene Foster January 22, 2012

      Agreed. Unless you are getting money back, then do them right away!

        Abi King January 22, 2012

        Ha! You may have just turned my life philosophy upside down :)

Ourjotterbook January 17, 2012

Wow… a really touching tale of one’s life experience… don’t procastinate!

Abi King January 22, 2012

Absolutely. There’s never a perfect time to do anything…

Alvina March 10, 2012

The decisions to make change are always difficult, but this story should make us all jump at the chances we have in life.

    Abi King March 10, 2012

    Absolutely. Every new comment is a good reminder, actually. It’s so easy to get distracted by day to day tasks…

Tash April 12, 2012

Wow, what a powerful, and amazing story! So true, we need to seize the day whenever we can. Got to go with our instinct and what we want to do – not what other people tell us we should do.

    Abi King October 13, 2012

    It’s a difficult balance – as Janice explains. But, yes, SUCH a powerful story.

Zoë Dawes August 25, 2012

What a moving article & a great philosophy to remind us of life’s transience. I met Janice two years ago – she gave me some very good advice when I was starting out in travel blogging. A generous soul &n excellent rôle model. Carpe Diem!

    Abi King October 13, 2012

    I agree!

islandmomma June 11, 2013

I have read this before, but that didn’t stop me from tearing up. I met Janice, briefly, last year. She’s lovely, so warm and friendly and happy. Of course she’s right. At 66 I can look back and tell you that my regrets ARE all because of the things I didn’t do rather than the things I did! Less time than some to fulfill the dreams now, but NOT going to make those mistakes again!

    Abi King June 14, 2013

    Yes, it’s such a beautiful piece. It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on that well worn piece of advice…because I think at the age of 35 it feels the other way around!

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