For nearly half my life, I’ve been traveling independently overseas and reaping the immeasurable benefits of immersing myself in foreign cultures.
For just as long, I’ve been trying to convince others to travel with me, or at least to go for themselves.
That is why I created the book, the blog, and the podcast in the first place.
But even with all the information and photos in the world, reading, hearing, and dreaming about travel is not enough. Life is too short to live vicariously. You must go, because it will be unique to you.
Your path in life is unique. Your struggles, your goals, your preferences, your taste buds, your travel mates, your relationships, what is going on in your heart and mind, these are all unique to you. You cannot possibly have the same experience as someone else at any given time, even if the place, the meal, or the company, is the same. The experience, the growth, and the change waiting for you can only be discovered by you.
I have long wanted to lead my own trips abroad, to give others an easy opportunity to say yes to that Discovery.
In 2016, I finally made that happen, and I started with one of my favorite places on the planet: southern Patagonia.
I don’t think anywhere on this earth has touched me so profoundly in such a short time as Chilean Patagonia. I first traveled there in October of 2015, when I hiked the W Circuit during a trying time in my life. I came out of those mountains renewed (understatement).
Six months later, I went back to the W with a group of friends, where I experienced a rejuvenation in Torres del Paine all over again. On that journey, we continued our adventure into southern Argentinian Patagonia, and that rounded out the 10-day trekking itinerary I knew I wanted to share with my audience because it made me feel so alive.
The trip would not be for everyone. It was far away, expensive, and physically demanding, as we would hike more than 100km over the course of 9 days. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, right?
In partnership with a fellow podcaster and a tour operator in Chile, we figured out the logistics. Everything was set, the only missing parts were the travelers themselves, so we began to promote the trip.
Six curious adventurers from all across the United States said yes to this opportunity, and in November of 2016, we came together at 53 degrees south latitude, in the far reaches of southern Patagonia.
This is where I fear I will struggle to convey what happened next. Who am I to even guess what the Discovery for each traveler really looks like?
Everything up to this point had been planned, with calendars, paperwork, passports, money, and communication. Things under our control.
Everything beyond this point was exposure to the transformational power of travel, and I knew it was time for the Wild of Patagonia to take over while we surrendered to its presence.
For the next 10 days, we hiked, we laughed, we cried, we shared, we smiled, we learned, we were challenged, we overcame, we ate chocolate and roasted lamb, we let Patagonia touch us, both internally and externally.
We leaned into fierce winds, witnessed glaciers avalanching and calving, floated through a peaceful snowfall, basked in the sun, watched condors soar overhead, filled our water bottles in the streams, toasted whiskey over glacier ice, slept hard at night, and conquered trail after trail, day after day.
And every single time it mattered, every single time we needed it, the sun came out, warmed our souls, and gifted us the best views in all of Patagonia, the ones we had come for.
But our rewards were more than breath-taking landscapes. Our true rewards were the Discovery, the unique experiences that happened on the inside, for each individual participant:
“I’m trying to tell people about Patagonia but I can’t even explain it… how can you put into words things that amaze, surprise, and soothe your soul? It’s like describing the beauty of light filtering just right through the clouds to a blind man… you can never do it justice…”
“For me, something that really resonated was a new understanding of the human condition. Being so far from where I call home, but finding such similar characteristics in people from Chile, Argentina and all over the world. It makes the world seem a little smaller knowing I share such a connection to a place with others and makes me optimistic about the future.”
“I am inspired to get back on the path I had set for myself and lost sight of; also, I’ve rediscovered my own confidence and drive to be my own change in my life.”
“Thinking back on it is like looking into a kaleidoscope to me. Every memory is so bright and wonderful, I don’t really know exactly where to focus but when I do, I see the outline of my brightly colored “rose” in the middle. Every day we saw things that were so majestically beautiful, you’d have to be a stone not to feel moved in your soul. The experiences we had like kayaking or hiking the glacier were made even more wonderful because of how much fun I had with everyone. I really didn’t know what to expect and I honestly didn’t build up anticipation for this trip. In fact, I was anxious I wouldn’t be fit enough or I’d be too nerdy or something stupid, but when I got to Patagonia, all of that melted away and I just was. It felt awesome.”
“I don’t believe you can go to Patagonia and not change, however, if I had not experienced it with Jackie and the amazing friends found in the group, I don’t think my change would have been as significant. Interesting how sometimes we don’t realize how lost we are until we re-find ourselves. Thank you Jackie for sharing your “church” and passion with me. I will be forever changed!”
THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE.
It is the living proof and power of transformational travel that is so hard to explain, but worth everything to discover.
We have no idea what waits for us on the other side of the world until we say yes and show up. And now, I am more motivated than ever to continue extending a hand and inviting you to discover that with me.
Go as soon as you can. Say yes to something big. Write your own story.
I’m beyond excited to continue offering opportunities to YOU to experience my beloved Patagonia.
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