By MARK KENNEDY, Chattanooga Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Becca Hisamoto, 28, first felt the pangs of wanderlust nearly a decade ago when she was in college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Hisamoto, who now lives in Chattanooga, took two college courses while studying abroad during a summer spent in London, Paris and Rome. She traveled across Europe hopscotching to fairs and festivals in pursuit of a degree in event planning.
“It didn’t feel like school,” she recalled of the 2013 overseas trip. Hisamoto spoke by phone with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I’ve always loved to travel, but after going abroad I knew: I was addicted and needed to find a career in the travel industry.”
Fast forward nine years, and Hisamoto has done just that. She is a travel coordinator for a company called Exceptional Vacations, which primarily plans domestic trips for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
During that time, she’s honed her personal travel-planning skills to the point that she’s about to finish a serious to-do list item. She is set to join the Seven Continents Club before she turns 30.
Hisamoto said she was not a wealthy person but learned to travel through work exchanges, arrangements that allowed her to earn food and lodging in exchange for a job as a teacher. English, gardener or nursery nurse, for example. She’s ticked off six continents so far and has planned a trip to Antarctica in November.
“As soon as I got a taste (of travel), I wanted to see it all,” she said. “Over time, I thought to myself, ‘I could touch all seven continents.’ Then, to make things harder, I set myself the goal of visiting every continent by my 30th birthday.
Later this year, Hisamoto said she and a friend will be flying to the southern tip of Argentina, where she will embark on a 10-day Antarctica excursion through the infamously windy and choppy Drake Passage. of the ocean between South America and the southernmost continent.
“In those 10 days, we will spend two full days crossing the Drake Passage. We will live on board the ship and take Zodiacs (inflatable boats used to ferry passengers ashore). Hopefully we will be in Antarctica for four days.
“…It’s incredibly exciting,” Hisamoto said. “It’s been such a dream for me.”
Hisamoto said she decided in her early twenties that she would go all out to travel the world while still young. World travel is a state of mind, a way to find context in an ever-changing world, she said.
“I hope travel will always be part of my life goals,” she said. “I didn’t want to wait until I was older or retired.
“I’m young and healthy, but as I get older I think I’ll still travel, but maybe not to this extent.”
After Antarctica, Hisamoto has planned trips to China and the Middle East next year.
Plus, she added a goal to her to-do list. His next challenge is to visit the seven wonders of the world.
“I already have four checked off,” she says enthusiastically.
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