All of our local kick-ass Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the time leading up to our National Event in October we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.
Meet our Kick-Ass Orlando Hosts: Mike & Catrell Cooney
Cashing In On Your Dreams
After receiving an appraisal on our Orlando home in 2005, Catrell and I came up with a great idea. Based on its market value at the time, we would sell our house, pay off the mortgage and use the balance to take our three teenage sons on an around the world trek. However, for various reasons, we did not want to begin our odyssey until 2008, and delayed putting it on the market until then. Of course that just happened to be when the real estate market was imploding, which meant our timing could not have been worse.
The proceeds from selling the house were the only means of financing our ambitious plans. What to do? What to do?
We had made our sons a promise and were committed to making the trek a reality regardless of the sacrifices required. Fortunately, Catrell and I were of like-mind so it wasn’t a question of if, but how. The housing market continued to worsen and we could see no improvement in the immediate future. Lacking a fat savings account, our only other asset was my retirement, which was loosing value almost as rapidly as the house. With no regrets then or now, we cashed in most of my retirement to make our dream a reality.
The first leg of our trek began on August 25, 2008 in Cancun, Mexico and lasted for nearly four months until we flew home from Sao Paulo, Brazil on December 12, 2008. We returned to our empty house in Orlando, and enjoyed time with our family over the holidays. In January 2009 we began planning the second leg of our trek, and cashed in nearly all of the remaining balance of my retirement. Our house finally sold a week before we departed, and we cleared one-tenth of what we had originally expected. However, we were happy to be rid of it and all of the financial responsibilities that go with what everyone lovingly calls home ownership.
The second leg of our trek began on March 1, 2009 and lasted for seven months. We spent two months in Southern Africa, two months in Southeast Asia, two months in Australia, two weeks in New Zealand and two weeks in Fiji before returning to the U.S. in late September. Combined with the first leg, we traveled to six continents, trekked through 22 countries and logged more than 61,000 miles by plane, bus, camper, van and car.
The purpose of our hair-brained idea was to expose our three sons to the world before starting college. As I always like to say, we spent the funds for their Ivy League education up front. Our philosophy then and now, is that “Travel is the ultimate education.” The knowledge they gained, the people they met and the cultures they experienced were not something they could learn from a book. It could only occur by being immersed in a journey that taught all of us more about the world in which we live.
And in the process, Catrell and I believe we helped create better global citizens who have memories to last a lifetime, and will make travel apart of their future as well.
You can read more about the Cooney’s family travels at Cooney World Adventure.