We Are Wanderers Compass
Welcome to our travel blog. Thank you for taking the time to learn about us and our story. We are pleased you have stopped by for a visit. Let us start by introducing ourselves. We are Joelle and Ryan, co-founders of Wanderers Compass.
As we embark on this blogging adventure, we do so with excitement and a bit of apprehension. We look forward to sharing the ride with you, likely bumpy at times, but our goal is simple. To inspire and encourage you to make all your travel dreams become a beautiful reality.
So who are we, and how did we start our Wanderers Compass journey? Our story is a unique one that has taught us our greatest gifts are when we live in the moment, follow our hearts and think outside of the box.
I am married to my high school sweetheart and am a proud mom to two wonderful adult children. I have three beautiful and charming grandsons who own my heart! Every moment with them I cherish, which I am blessed to do often. As a first-generation American born to French immigrants, I am bilingual and hold dual citizenship. My first language was French, which I still do a decent job at, except my grammar can be atrocious at times. My parents passed their wandering gene onto me, and I am proud to continue that tradition. Traveling internationally started when I was a toddler, and I have not stopped since.
I have a BSN in Nursing and a BA in Behavioral Sciences. My professional nursing career has been in the oncology field, both on the clinical and research side. With my healthcare background, there will be a travel health component to this blog. Education has always been a passion for me, leading to many years of public speaking engagements across the United States and several medical publications. My greatest joy in life comes from my family, followed by travel. My other interests are photography, gardening, cooking, wine, and volunteer work with our military service members. I tend to burn the candles at both ends, but I know no other way to live life.
Ryan is a single dad to a fun-loving and sweet little boy. His son is the absolute light of his life. He adores being a dad and works hard to be fully engaged in his son’s life. Ryan’s professional career is with the Department of the Army in a civilian role. He also is a Sargeant First Class in the US Army Reserves. He was active duty army for several years and is a disabled Veteran. Ryan served his country with courage, honor, and pride in three deployments to Afghanistan and one tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has over 16 years of military service and counting.
Ryan has made endless sacrifices for our country. In my eyes, he is a hero. You will never find him accepting that title, though; he is too humble to use that term for himself.
His son is the center of his life, followed by his love of travel. Travel planning is his primary role on our travel team, doing all the research and detailing our day-to-day itineraries. Ryan’s other interests include riding his customized Harley, pottery, woodworking, poetry, music, and making Mead. I am always in awe of all that Ryan juggles in his life.
How we met
Now you might wonder how we got here. First, we are the most unlikely of business and travel partners. We live on different coasts of the United States and are in entirely different life stages. We met in 2007 when I became part of an organization called Soldiers Angels. I was working in Oncology full time and supporting a parent with advanced cancer. Feeling the need to engage in something completely detached from Oncology, I started looking for new places to give my time. I have always been in awe of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the military. I volunteered to “adopt” a deployed soldier committing to sending packages and letters regularly.
It might not be hard to guess that my first “adopted” soldier was Ryan in 2007. He was stationed in Afghanistan at the time in Operation Enduring Freedom. Crossing each other’s paths was life-altering for both of us. I went on to adopt several deployed soldiers over the next ten years through this organization. Several have become treasured members of my family. I am enormously proud of all of them and feel incredibly honored and touched to be part of their lives.
Ryan and I kept in close touch after he left active duty. I luckily had frequent business trips to where he lived. Over time we became friends and then subsequently family. Ryan came on some of our family vacations, and with time the bonds grew stronger. I often traveled during this time all over the US and Europe: solo or with family and friends. Ryan was captivated when I shared stories and photos from each adventure. He had some tough times after leaving active duty. To get his spirits up, I suggested that maybe one day he could join me on one of my trips to Europe.
Ryan has always been fascinated by history and culture. Though he never traveled except locally as a child and for military deployments, he dreamed that he could see these places he admired one day. Ryan spent many hours in his youth watching PBS travel and history programs. He dreamed big but never, not once, believed it was possible. That day I suggested traveling to Europe, his eyes lit up, and I knew right then, and there I had to make it happen for him.
Our first overseas trip
In 2014 that “maybe one-day” became a reality. Ryan was in the right place in his life, had just bought a house with a GI loan, and had money available to travel. I planned the flights and accommodations, and Ryan planned the day-to-day itinerary. Every aspect of our trip we arranged ourselves. It was a big one, 21 days in Ireland, England, France, and Italy. I figured this could be his only exposure, so it better be amazing. Also, during this trip was his 30th birthday. It would be his most unforgettable one ever.
The trip was beyond all expectations.
On our first day in Ireland, it was as if new life energy formed in Ryan. He blossomed. This shy, often not so confident young man was animated, engaged, bold, and excited. Every moment, every site, and especially every castle had him in amazement. He loved the culture, the people, the roads, the crazy schedule, food, libations, and he even loved getting lost. Afraid of nothing, Ryan had gained this wondrous spirit of adventure. For myself, who had already traveled extensively, it was as if seeing many places for the first time through Ryan’s eyes. His sincere gratitude, energy, and pure childlike joy were contagious.
The trip was remarkable. To my surprise, I found traveling with Ryan was easy, enjoyable and that we both shared similar travel styles. Finding someone that makes every travel moment fun and unique is a rarity. His boundless enthusiasm was exhilarating. On our way home on the plane, we began planning our next trip, and this travel team was officially born. Ryan fell in love with everything castles, and the focus of the next trip was to see as many as we could in one overseas adventure.
That next trip occurred in 2015. Our travels took us to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. We called it our Castle Hunters Adventure. It was a mind-blowing trip and, there is not ever enough time in the day. We visited over 100 castles with some visits to whiskey distilleries along the whiskey trail. Because when in Rome…
You would think 100 castles might get a bit boring. We were never tired of these magnificent structures. Each had its own character and story. Each pulling at our imagination what life was like in those days long ago. We found magic. Add to this the gorgeous countryside, the magnificent scenery, and welcoming locals. It only cemented our determination to keep traveling, in other words, to experience the world.
Want to see all the castles we have visited? Check out our Master Castle List page here.
The Birth of Wanderers Compass
After that, life became busy for Ryan in the following years that included a deployment. I kept traveling every chance I could get in the US and internationally. I had some grand adventures that included a trip with my gourmet cooking club to France’s Provence region and a sister bonding trip to Greece. Ryan and I began traveling together again until 2019. Ryan had missed it so much. There was a whole new meaning to life for him when he was traveling. It made him happy, very happy. It made him feel fulfilled and in control of his life. He loved sharing stories of his adventures with others and encouraging them to begin traveling.
Then Ryan got this crazy idea.
He suggested we start a travel blog. He wanted others to find the magic he experienced. People who had dreams that they were sure could never come true. He wanted others to be encouraged and inspired—especially disabled Vets who struggle after their service. He wanted to share how it could be affordable using the tips and tools we had used.
I was not entirely on board, and his idea stayed on the back burner.
Interested in how to start a blog? Learn about more about us and our blogging journey here.
The adventures continued
In 2019 we had two remarkably successful European trips. After these trips, Ryan’s idea took a life of its own, and we commenced on this journey to start a travel blog. Wanderers Compass was “born” in the fall of 2019. It has had some ups and downs, as would be expected. Moments of feeling overwhelmed and lots of frustration. Neither of us is tech-savvy nor, have we done anything like this in our lives. The learning curve was substantial. It was a massive leap of faith, or was it jumping off the precipice? We both have had together and separately those “are we outright nuts?” moments.
But we persisted and remained determined. It was about us making a dream a reality, quitting was not an option.
Best laid plans
Wanderers Compass was to launch in April 2020 during our next trip to Europe. I was in Norway with my husband when COVID 19 began exploding on the world stage in March and abruptly ended our trip. Subsequently, Ryan and I had to cancel our April plans. We watched with broken hearts as the virus took its grip on the world and, for the unforeseeable future, international travel stopped in its tracks.
At first, we were unsure how to proceed with the blog, but we were confident that moving ahead was important. Once people could venture out again into this beautiful and fascinating world, they would need the inspiration and tools to do so. There was also a whole industry that will need to rebuild when that time comes, and because of that, we could play a role in making that possible. Therefore we tried to make the most of this time in lockdown to learn more about the ins and out of travel blogging and build our Wanderers Compass brand.
Here we go
Consequently, we come to today. The amount of work has been enormous. Life gets in the way sometimes. Funny how that works.
This road has been fun and engaging. There is so much left to learn, and we are so excited to do so.
We are nervous. It feels a bit like putting your child out into the world. In a way it is no longer about us. Will they be OK? Did we do everything we needed to give them their best start? Will they fall flat on their faces? Will we?
It is hard to believe, but here we go.
Thank you for taking this journey with us and taking the time to learn about us.
We would sincerely appreciate it if you shared ours Wanderers Compass Travel Blog with your friends and family.
May you always wander in wonder!
Now that we have shared About Us. Tell us a little about yourself, or ask what you would like to know about us? We would love to hear from you! Go to our FAQs and comment page or contact us privately. We will respond to everyone who writes us!
Our Travel Stats
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