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 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 a beautiful reality.
So who are we, and how did we start our Wanderers Compass journey? Our unique story has taught us that our greatest gifts are when we live in the moment, follow our hearts, and think outside 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 sometimes be atrocious. My parents passed their wandering genes onto me, and I am proud to continue that tradition. Traveling internationally started as a toddler, and I have not stopped.
I have a BSN in Nursing and a BA in Behavioral Sciences. My professional nursing career has been in oncology, both on the clinical and research sides. With my healthcare background, the blog will have a health component. There 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 know no other way to live.
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 fully engage in his son’s life. Ryan’s professional career is in a civilian role with the Department of the Army. He also is a Sargeant First Class in the US Army Reserves. He was on 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; 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, researching 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 of Operation Enduring Freedom. Crossing each other’s paths was life-altering for both of us. I adopted deployed soldiers over the next ten years through this organization. Several have become treasured members of my family. I am enormously proud 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 the bonds grew stronger with time. 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 he could join me on one of my trips to Europe one day.
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 I had to make it happen for him right then and there.
Our first overseas trip
In 2014 that “maybe one day” became a reality. Ryan was in the right place in his life; he had just bought a house with a GI loan and had money available. 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 memorable one ever.
The trip was beyond all expectations.
On our first day in Ireland, it was like 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, the food, and the libations; 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, traveling with Ryan was easy and enjoyable, and we 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 was never 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 pulls at our imagination of what life was like in those days long ago. We found magic. Add to this the gorgeous countryside, the magnificent scenery, and the welcoming locals. It only cemented our determination to keep traveling, in other words, to experience the world.
The Birth of Wanderers Compass
After that, life became busy for Ryan in the following years, which included a deployment. I kept traveling every chance I could get in the US and internationally with friends and family. I had some grand adventures, including a trip with my gourmet cooking club to France’s Provence region and a sister bonding trip to Greece. I adore traveling with people who share a passion for travel. After a few years off, Ryan was able to begin traveling again. It made him feel fulfilled and in control of his life. He loved sharing stories of his adventures with others and encouraging them to start 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 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 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. The support from our loved ones made it possible as well. Was it a massive leap of faith or jumping off the precipice? We have had 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.
We answered some of the most common questions on our FAQ page.
Best laid plans
Wanderers Compass was to launch in April 2020 during our next European trip. 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 gripped 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 is also a whole industry that would 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 outs 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 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 our 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 want 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!
© 2024 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved
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