The World at Your Feet

By Cindy Habets Peterson
The World at Your Feet   Travels and advice from a small-town girl living a big-time dream
   I still clearly remember the day I got my first passport. I was 25 years old and was working for a large corporation.   As part of my job assignment, I needed to travel to Israel to assist with a new factory start-up. That’s right, my first trip outside the U.S. -  with the exception of Alberta or a Mexican border town -  was Israel.  And it changed my life.
   At the time, I was serious about finishing college and having a good career.  It had been my goal for as long as I can remember (although I’m sure a certain amount of parental brain-washing had taken place).  I was lucky.  I went to work for a multi-national company and worked with people from all over the world – Japan, Ireland, Israel – to name a few.
   Most of you probably know me as Cindy Habets. I lived in Conrad from the time I was six weeks old until I left for the family alma mater of MSU (go Cats!) at 18 years old.  My parents, Mike and Barb Habets, still own the farm I grew up on.  If you happen to be in Stockman Bank, say hi to my mom for me.
   That first stamp in my passport imbedded the travel bug deep within me. Experiencing one of the most ancient and significant parts of the world was beyond words.  And it was in Israel, tasting different food, interacting with people from so many backgrounds, and walking through living human history that I vowed to travel as much as I could manage with the demanding job and limited vacation that plagues all of us Americans.
   With some necessary lifestyle compromises, I made travel a priority in my life.  From weekend backpacking trips a few hours from home to at least one international trip per year I added 20 country notches to my travel belt in the 10 years after my first plane ride over an ocean.
   Then, in 2008, shortly after our September wedding, my husband and I decided to buck the U.S. work-until-you-retire system and travel for a year. It took a lot of courage and planning – we both walked away from stable jobs in San Francisco, packed up our belongings and became nomads.  Since November of 2008 we have been traveling the world.  In the last year we have traveled to eighteen countries spanning six continents.  We have shared meals with local families, hiked through some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and learned more words for hello and goodbye than I can count.
   Along the way we have learned so much about what it is to be a traveler in this big, wide world, and how travel changes each of us.  Whether you are planning a weekend in the mountains, visiting relatives in the next state, or setting off to backpack around Asia for a year, don’t forget to learn from and experience your destination.
   The I-O has given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite travel destinations, activities, and general travel advice with my fellow Montanans over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for some destinations to add to your travel list. In the meantime, you are welcome to take part in our most current adventures on our website:  www.theblondewanderer.com
Editor’s note: Cindy Habets will have a travel column once a month. Have travel related questions?   Ask the Blondewanderer and I will answer your questions in the I-O.   Simply email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Happy Traveling!