Welcome, fellow wanderers!
My name is Sarah, and I’m from the Midwestern United States of America. Suitcase Six is my personal project, a place for me to document my experiences travelling and working as a young American woman. Even more importantly, Suitcase Six is a place for me to share the stories of five of my best friends and their unique experiences travelling the world as they develop their careers, as well as the advice and inspiration from working women around the world.
You might be wondering how I ended up here. I’ve spent a lot of time myself thinking about the many twists and turns in my path that have led me to this moment – sitting behind a laptop screen on a flight from Seattle to Denver, carefully crafting the About Me page of a yet another travel website. I didn’t grow up in a family of international travelers. In fact, I’ve spent 20 years of my short life living in Indiana and aside from a weeklong cruise with my family when I was about nine years old, where we spent a day on ports in Mexico, and another in Jamaica, I had never left the country.
I think this about where the “Suitcase Six” come into the picture.
I could go on and on about my friends, but since I have a whole page set aside to feature them, I’ll just say that I have grown up with a close group of women who have been a large part of my inspiration to travel.When I was in high school, I watched Melissa take off for Germany to spend a semester in school. Laura and Anna also took a few trips abroad during summers through their church, and Marie and Tahvi had visited other states and countries on family vacations.Suddenly, I had hopes of seeing the world for myself. I recall watching the movie “Bucket List,” and then taking my friends adventures into consideration, crafting a detailed bucket list of my own and adding “see every country” to the top of the list.
Fast forward a bit to mid-college and I’d developed a close relationship with a professor whom I call T.O. who hired me as her research assistant and began to mentor me. After learning of my aspirations to travel, T.O. invited me along on her annual research trip to Costa Rica in the summer, where I was to intern for three weeks. In the summer of 2015, I set off for Central America with a large backpack, limited Spanish proficiency, and a bundle of nerves. I added 5 weeks of travel to the internship T.O. had offered me and spent the next 2 months exploring from Belize to Panama. When I returned home, the flicker of an interest in travel had fanned into a flame, and I had a new passion for seeing the world. This trip taught me one of the most influential lessons I’ve learned to date:
Travel and work do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Two years since I left for Belize, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some 14 countries and 25 states, and had more adventures than I can count. My five best friends have all been abroad several times through their college careers, sometimes for work and sometimes for pure adventure – they continue to find creative ways to explore the world while striving toward meaningful careers, and they never cease to inspire me and push me out of my comfort zones around the world. And here I sit, typing an introduction that may be way too long for anyone to read, trying to figure out why I feel compelled to do this at all.
Here is my best answer:
I have learned and continue to learn so much about travel, work, and how they are interrelated from the working women in my life – specifically my five friends with whom I’ve grown up, but also from women I encounter across the world in my travels. I know that travel is not something everyone is interested in BUT I’ve realized from the wandering women with whom I’ve crossed paths that work and travel are far from exclusive. In fact, my work has informed my travel and created more opportunities for me to explore the world, while my travel has given me a global perspective on the work I do and the work women are doing worldwide.
My hopes are that by sharing my adventures and the collective wisdom of women who have travelled before and alongside me, I will push myself to meet and learn from more wandering women and maybe help women who are interested in travel find inspiration to do so in their own ways.
Maybe instead of seeing our careers as barriers to exploring the world, we can begin to see them as vehicles for our international adventures, our important work influencing and being influenced by the colorful cultures around the globe.