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Find your freedom – where travel meets life

Expedia Find Your Freedom Jeremy Branham

Find your freedom.  Find your happiness.  Find your escape.  Find your self.

All of these describe my life at some point during my travels.  Many people travel to places to see the sights, enjoy a getaway, and explore the world.  I’ve done all of those things.  However, my journey is more than that.

“Find your freedom” is about that life changing moment in your life that you discovered through travel.  And these are the stories we have to tell.

A week ago, Expedia launched the “Find your” series which seeks to tell a different kind of travel story.  These aren’t about destinations, tips, or what to see and do.  These are about those life changing moments that have become our travel story.

Dave and Deb tell the story of how travel saved their relationship.  Spencer tells his personal travel story on lessons in love.  Trish shares an emotional experience in Mexico.

These are the travel stories we want people to share.

Find your self

The year was 1994 and it was my sophomore year in college.  It was October and it was the loneliest moment I ever had at the University of South Carolina.  In December of that year, I got a co-op (a paid internship) at IBM just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina in Research Triangle Park.

I needed a change of scenery.  Hanging out in Raleigh, I met new people and saw new places.  I went on a road trip in early February for my birthday.  I hung out with a number of other college students.  And I had another one of those moments – I felt different and alone.

Just two months after returning home to Columbia, SC I had the chance to visit Estonia.

I spent bus rides learning Estonian phrases I would never use again.  I wanted to meet and connect with the Estonian people.  I soaked up the culture.  I was a different person – one I never knew existed before.

Travel changed me.  The journey was just beginning.

Find your escape

Jeremy Branham Bacharach Germany Find Your ExpediaFast forward to May 2004.  My life had changed drastically. I’ve had my share of travel confessions.  I’ve shared the life lessons I’ve learned as a travel blogger.  I still haven’t talked about this one though.

Just a month earlier, I came home for lunch and bawled like a baby lying on the floor by the kitchen table.  I was comforted by sloppy licks on my face thanks to my closest friend – my Golden Retriever.

From mid-May to mid-June, I spent a month traveling around Europe.  Some of that time was on a tour, some was spent on my own.  I was an emotional wreck with lots of ups and downs on that trip.

I’ve got some great stories to tell – like that time I was locked out of my hotel in Florence.

I met some awesome people – like my friend and tour guide Marijan Kriskovic.  I had an amazing cultural experience at McDonald’s with a Lebanese girl in Paris.

I visited some of the most beautiful cities in the world – Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam.

I pondered my life on top of a mountain overlooking the Austrian valley below.  I cried in the Cinque Terre.  I was lonely and depressed in Paris’ Luxembourg Garden.

On this trip, I was here to find my escape.  And despite the ups and downs, the experience impacted my life.

Find your happiness

Since that trip, my travels have been a lot happier.  There have still been plenty of ups and downs.  However, I’ve continued to find myself through my travel stories.

I’ve been to a nude beach in Portugal.  I’ve seen Barcelona play football at the Nou Camp.  I’ve been to the edge of the Grand Canyon.  I’ve enjoyed some of my best travel moments close to home.

For me, travel isn’t about how far away you go to get to that next destination.  Travel is a mindset and attitude that you carry with you no matter where you go.

Find your freedom

Expedia Find Your Freedom Jeremy Branham TBEXLast weekend, I spent some time in Denver and Keystone, Colorado.  Appropriately, being on the mountain gave me a high.  This was truly a mountain top experience.

For most of my life, I’ve seen myself as quiet, shy, unemotional, and deep thinking person.  For those most part, that’s a pretty good description.  However, I’ve lived most of my life believing things about myself that just weren’t true.

I am very passionate and emotional (which has its good and bad sides).  I am one of the most analytical, deep thinking people you will meet.  However, most of my life is ruled by my feelings.  I am very sensitive and insecure even though I may come across as confident and arrogant.

This journey through life and the world have helped me discover who I really am.  I am not the person I believed myself to be.  Seeing myself last weekend, it brought a smile to my face and made me realize there is more to me than I ever thought there was.

Travel has helped me find my freedom – the freedom to be me.

The freedom to be me has also meant combining my two greatest passions – sports and travel.  Two of my greatest travel moments involved sports.

While talking to some Scottish Highland Games professional athletes, I had tears in my eyes realizing that in that moment I was accepted and right where I needed to be.

In Annapolis for the Army-Navy football game, I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Last year, I launched the College Football Travel Tour.  This year, this tour will help tell my story while I take you on a journey.

Tommy Suggs Jeremy Branham Find Your Happiness Gamecock football

Find your travel story

Through travel, I’ve been able to find an escape, find myself, find my happiness, and find my freedom.

Now it’s your turn.  Share your travel story and join Expedia to “Find Yours”.  It’s your chance to find your freedom.  Share the travel stories that go beyond the destinations.  Change lives through travel – starting with the stories that changed yours.

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  1. We so often hear the old saw “travel changes you.” It’s always seemed to me that travel doesn’t change us, it’s just the catalyst that allows us to see how we’ve always been. Sometimes it takes something profoundly foreign in order to become familiar with ourselves.

  2. Cool post and idea! I think we often lose sight of this, but travel is not only about the destination, but about getting to know ourselves as well. I think of it as seeing myself ‘out of context’ or in multiple ‘contexts’ allows me to see the aspects of myself that remain through them all, and that THAT is who I truly am…if that makes sense!
    Jess | GlobetrotterGirls recently posted..What I Wonder When I Wander: Why I Love Indian TVMy Profile

    • My definition of travel? The destinations we visit while we are on a journey. I think travel allows us to see different sides of ourselves that we may not otherwise experience in our ‘daily’ lives. There’s so much more to us and our personalities than what we see every day. Not everything I learn about myself I like but it all reveals more of who I am and helps guide me to where I want to be (and not just where I want to go next).

  3. Laurence says:

    Travel has really helped me to know myself better. I’d like to think I’m on the way to finding what I’m looking for from it, but life is such a great journey of itself – always something new to discover :D
    Laurence recently posted..Free music at France’s Fête de la MusiqueMy Profile

    • One thing about me is that I can get too focused on the details right where I am and lose sight of the bigger picture. I don’t always look at travel as a journey but judge it for the experience I have right in that moment. In the end, it really is about the journey and not just the destination – even when getting to that destination may seem like the most important thing in that moment.

  4. Ayngelina says:

    I totally agree with Karen that travel allows us to become more comfortable with who we really are, what a wonderful story Jeremy.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Thoughts from a traveling spinster on her birthdayMy Profile

    • I would go a step further and say that travel reveals to us who we really are. There are things we learn about ourselves that we may not otherwise know if we didn’t have travel (or other experiences) to help reveal those things to us.

  5. Love this Jer. I really like what you said about “freedom” and travel giving you the freedom to be who you are. It’s nice and satisfying hearing the many stories of those travel moments that go beyond the surface and leave such an indelible mark on our lives.
    Spencer Spellman recently posted..Is Traveling Solo the Best Way to TravelMy Profile

    • Travel has meant different things to me at different points in my life. I’ve loved my travel experiences but I’ve experienced travel during different times and circumstances in my life. I am convinced that travel is more about the journey in what it teaches us about ourselves and the world around than what we learn about a specific place, people, or culture (which are all good things as well).

  6. Reading this post makes me realize even more just how well we’d get along when we finally meet in person. We have so much in common!
    I didn’t know you lived in Raleigh for awhile.
    Travel is so amazing in the way it transforms life. I found my freedom through it

  7. Travel often gets credit for changing people’s lives–and rightfully so–but I think it’s really just about stepping outside your routine and leaving your comfort zone. Travel is just one of many ways to do this. In my opinion it’s the best, but not everyone has the opportunity or the desire to travel; for those people, there are other avenues for self discovery.
    Daniel McBane recently posted..What to do Before Entering a Public Pool in JapanMy Profile

    • I completely agree with you. For one, it doesn’t have to be travel. Anything that changes our situation or comfort zone and get us to experience life in a different way can be very revealing. However, my own experiences have taught me that travel isn’t how far away from home you go but a mindset. You really don’t have to go far to travel. You just have to open your mind to new experiences.

  8. Christina says:

    This is a very insightful post. I think you will find most people believe something about themselves for a long time and then realise it was wrong, or maybe not wrong, but limiting. Just thinking of yourself as analytical and deep thinking because you do that a lot is limiting. Great that travel helped you lift that filter that only allowed you to see part of yourself, and that it now helps you see yourself in your entirety. Love how travel changes perspectives. Or deletes filters :) Now before I get too philosophical, I look forward to your stories!
    Christina recently posted..New Zealand: 5 museums you should visitMy Profile

    • I love the philosophy aspect of travel. I think if travel doesn’t make you a little philosophical then you completely miss out on the things that travel can teach you. I do believe that analytical and deep thinking very much defines who I am. However, I realize now that there are other aspects to my character that I didn’t see before. Better yet, I am learning to embrace those. I am still learning how to do that.

      I love your comment – very insightful. Now what have you learned about yourself? :)

  9. Great post, Jeremy. Though we don’t know each other well, I feel as if I got a revealing look inside the man behind the blog. Thanks for putting yourself out there like that: I know it’s not always easy. As for the central topic, I totally agree with Karen: Travel just reinforced for me the man I was destined to become, and it was through travel that I made the life-altering decision (i.e. divorce after being with my ex for 15 years) that allowed me to pursue the much more fulfilling life I have now.
    Bret @ GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #93: Attract Hummingbirds To Your GardenMy Profile

    • Sounds like travel helped you find a purpose Bret. For me, travel has helped me discover my identity. That may be the best way to sum it up. I relate to you in some ways – probably more than you realize. You definitely has a focus now and are doing what you love. From reading your own personal stories, you have gone through a lot. All of our experiences help shape us.

      Ideally, we use travel, our experiences, relationships, and opportunities to become better people and help those around us that we love dearly.

  10. Cracking post mate. Was transported into your life there and got a glimpse of this epic journey you’ve made your life. Golden Retrievers can melt the hardest of hearts too!

    Thanks for sharing! Travel is definitely the way forward.
    Will – TravelSexLife recently posted..The Travelling Couple’s Sexy Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Golden Retrievers are awesome. Mine stinks like you wouldn’t believe though! He used to be an inside dog and sleep in my bed. He is still a trusted friend though. He’s been around longer than most of my current friends.

      I really appreciate all he has done for me in my life. Sounds funny to say that about a dog but it’s true.

      Thanks for the kind words Will! I hope each of us is able to have that “find yours” moment(s)!

  11. Peter says:

    The austrian alpes is my favorite place on earth! I used to go skiing there with my parents, when I was a child. Our relatives have got a small cottage up on the mountain in Tirol, and I also have studied one semester as a guest student at the Innsbruck University of Technology. I’ll never forget those beautiful snowy mountains.
    Peter recently posted..Architekur VisualisierungenMy Profile

    • That sounds awesome! I haven’t spent enough time in the Alps but I would love to spend some time hiking. I am not really into skiing though. I love the mountains and outdoors in the summer. However, a cottage in the Tirol region sounds heavenly. I’d be happy to watch the cottage for your parents sometime if they need it :)

  12. Love Expedia’s new campaign. So many great stories being shared by everyone and yours is definitely up there! Congrats on all so far and hopefully you keep finding what you are looking for through travel :)
    Cole @ Four Jandals recently posted..Sea Kayak in Napoli, ItalyMy Profile

    • Thanks Cole. I love that Expedia is taking a big risk in an attempt to connect and build relationships with travelers. In the end, isn’t that what we remember most about our travels – the connections, experiences, and relationships with others?

  13. Andrew says:

    Hey, I didn’t know you worked for IBM in 1994. I would have been near there at the time. That summer was my first time to Germany and it changed me as well.
    Andrew recently posted..Ups and Downs of HeidelbergMy Profile

    • Yep, I was there from late December 1994 until early June 1995. It was an eye opening experience being in the ‘real world’ for the first time. I really enjoyed the area though. What did you do at IBM? Were you there during the time frame that I was?

      I lived in Raleigh at some apartments and hung out at NC State a lot in my free time.

  14. Turtle says:

    Lovely post! It’s so nice to hear you talk about the downs as well as the ups. Travel does change us. It opens up the world and that, in turn, opens up our minds. But that doesn’t mean everything is always fun and amazing. Travel also makes us confront some of the darkest parts of ourselves – and that is a journey in itself.

  15. Thanks for sharing this Jeremy!! At this moment, I am going thru a difficult moment and I am using it to find my freedom. If all goes well, I am going to be able to add more travel to my life.
    Ruth (Tanama Tales) recently posted..Taking the Plunge: Getting Under a Massive WaterfallMy Profile

    • Awesome to hear Ruth! Hopefully the freedom you find isn’t just one that allows you to travel but allows you to fully live out the life you want and become the person you want to be!

  16. Christy says:

    Lovely post, Jeremy. You have me thinking about all the ups and downs I’ve had while traveling solo. Even the bad moments have shaped me into the person I am now and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
    Christy recently posted..Top Travel Tips for Your Italian VacationMy Profile

    • Like life, ups and downs are a part of travel as well. I don’t like the downs. I don’t like when things don’t go as unexpected when I travel. However, those things have helped teach me more about myself. I can’t say there aren’t some things I wouldn’t have changed. However, I just need to learn from those experiences.

      Travel has taught me a lot about myself. Some things I was glad to learn. Others were hard to realize and admit.

  17. Deb says:

    Wow! What a wonderful post. Meeting you in person, I would have never thought of you as shy or arrogant. You are so vibrant, outgoing and downright nice! Travel has definitely transformed you. I understand exactly where you are coming from when you talk about your travels. It is different all the time. Dave and I had a very similar experience during our first travel (ironically on Raleigh as well) it was an emotional travel with a lot of tears and ups and downs but we came out of it inspired and changed and since then our travels have been a lot of fun. There are still ups and downs, hey I cried just last week in Hawaii but that is life in general. Travel isn’t so much of an escape, but as you said, freedom. We’ll still struggle with insecurities and obstacles but having travel in our lives has given us the strength to take on the world. Thanks for sharing and being so honest. You are an inspiration Jeremy.
    Deb recently posted..How Travel Saved our Marriage and Transformed Our LivesMy Profile

  18. Deb says:

    I should have added, Raleigh, but the one in Thailand. :)
    Deb recently posted..How Travel Saved our Marriage and Transformed Our LivesMy Profile

  19. randy says:

    Traveling really brings nack the “feel good” about life. We are too busy in life to slow down, travel and enjoy life.

  20. Michelle says:

    I have just returned home today to Greenville, SC after three weeks in mostly Central Europe. It was awesome, but then I get home and life awaits. It seems nothing has changed, but I have. Although it was a short trip, I always feel different when I come home. Nothing life altering, but just a little more open to life. People tell me I am a different person after I get home. Who knows, maybe I am? Travel for me keeps me sane.

    On a completely different note, you sound like the male version of me :)

    • Maybe I am the female version of you! Central/Eastern Europe is my favorite place in the world to explore. I love the history and culture there. A lot of it has to do with Communism and former Yugoslavia. First country I ever visited was Estonia so that left an impression on me.

      Little by little, each trip opens my eyes to new things and changes me just a little. Growing up, I was very judgmental. And while I still hold to my values, I do see the world differently now – and that is a good thing.

      By the way, I was born and raise in South Carolina. Spent the first 26 years of my life there and all my family still lives there. I know you read that in the story but just another thing we have in common :)

      Keep traveling with an open heart and open mind. Don’t become someone different but become more of you who were intended to be!

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