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May 30, 2018 | Stories from the road

Colin's story: A year without Europe

By Michael A.

When I sit down with Colin, it’s not in a coffee shop or a bar, where those “in-depth” interviews you normally read take place. There are no wood panels or dark lighting. No bartender to serve us a drink that’ll get the stories flowing as free as the liquor that’s being poured. Instead, we’re seated across from each other in one of EF Ultimate Break’s conference rooms, because, well, Colin can’t be gone for too long. It’s the start of summer when travelers are out in droves, visiting places like Paris and Greece and Thailand, and he needs to be available in case anyone needs anything on the road.

So, as we sit on the couches, one of which is a bit too wide so your feet hang off like a child, we talk. And talk. And talk. And, after an hour talking with him, because that’s all the time he can afford, I realized that an hour barely scratches the surface that is Colin.

When talking to an EF Ultimate Break staff member, you always expect them to have some type of interesting traveler story. Comes with the job. But Colin’s travel story involves a year of globetrotting to places the don’t start with E or end in UROPE. Which makes him one of the most interesting men in the world.

New England born and raised, Colin grew up in Connecticut, went to college in Vermont, and now, lives in Boston. And it was after studying abroad in Australia during college that he discovered his love of traveling.

But there was the roadblock that most 20-somethings encounter after graduating.


So, after graduating, Colin took a job at a software company in sales. With the dream of travel always in the back of his mind, he worked for a few years, saving up as he went. But, it wasn't enough. After nearly three years at his job, Colin was promoted to a senior position that included more responsibility—and more money.

This was the turning point that Colin knew could come. Should he give up the comfort of and familiarity of a steady paycheck? Or should he quit cold turkey to travel and fulfill his lifelong dream?

He left his job shortly after and decided to travel.

Colin (left) with his girlfriend and friend becoming one with nature in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile.

For the next year, what would follow was a whirlwind of adventure, fun, and amazing memories that would take him to Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

“My dad was my biggest supporter,” said Colin. “He had done something similar when he was growing up, so he always saw the value in traveling.”

As he jaunted across the world with his girlfriend and friend, it never crossed his mind to check out Europe. And after a 12 months of daily budgeting, frequent rescheduling, and the most laid-back itinerary ever, Colin knew it was time to go home.

Colin (left) with his girlfriend and friend becoming one with nature in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile.

It should come as no surprise that Colin ended up at EF Ultimate Break. He just had an ultimate break. But it wasn't until he arrived at EF that he was able to experience something he never did in the year of travel—a trip to Europe.. Traveling to London, Paris & Rome, with 22 other people he had never met before, he reflected on the differences and similarities between the two.

“It was great. Obviously you have different experiences, but I didn’t realize how quickly you’d become friends with the people that are on the trip with you. Even though we didn’t know each other, it wasn’t long until it felt like we’ve known each other forever.”

Colin with his group on Rome, London & Paris at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

After a year of traveling to South America and Asia, Colin was excited to go to Europe just to see the famous and quintessential European cities. It didn't come without concern though. Colin worried that Europe was going to be boring compared to the places he had been. But it exceeded his expectations.

“You realize that while it might not be the jungles of Thailand or the desert of Australia, Europe has a lot to offer. It’s a different culture and everyone acts differently.”

As we wrap up our conversation, although my questions are only just beginning, he tell tells me the main difference between his year-long trip and his Ultimate Break one. And that’s the Tour Director.

"Oh my god, he was great,” said Colin. “Your biggest responsibility when going alone is making sure you plan so you don’t waste any time. During our London, Paris and Rome trip, Marco made sure we saw it all, and recommended the best places to visit in each city. It was fantastic. And I didn't have to do anything.”

Colin (third in from the right) and his group after the Pasta Making Class in Rome. That's Marco, his Tour Director, on the far right.

But, what’s right for Colin may not be right for you. According to him, you should do what makes sense to you. Whether you're trying to choose Europe or Asia or South America, the most important thing is—you’re traveling.

While we wrap up the interview, the sense of travel glistens in his eyes. He clearly remembers the days and is excited about other people following in his footsteps.

We walk out of the conference room.

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