Talon Windwalker is a hospice chaplain and single parent who quit his job and to take his son, Tigger (a nickname), on an indefinite trip around the world. When he was a young chaplain, Talon had a dream of raising children in foreign countries and having them experience what he sees as an amazing, large world. He and Tigger are now doing that, they are “slow travelling” (intending to spend a month or more in each country) beginning with Mexico, with plans to go through Central & South America and visit Antarctica before heading to Europe and continuing their journey through Africa and Asia, while also visiting countries in the South Pacific. He’ll be homeschooling Tigger, teaching languages, writing, photographing, and doing online and other work along the way. We have caught him just as they begin this journey together.
What was the moment that you realized you had to do this?
I had always wanted to see more of the world and also wanted to raise my kids in other countries so they could witness and experience other cultures. I want to raise a global citizen not just a native of our own country. When you’ve been somewhere you feel more connected and care more about what’s happening in the world. While doing a solo trip to Peru, I met up with the Vogels and it really got me thinking. Within a few months I just knew this was something I had to do and would regret the rest of my life if I didn’t.
Why was it important to you?
If you count the times I’ve done volunteer work, I’ve been involved in health care for about 3 decades. In that time I’ve worked in geriatrics, trauma, intensive care, and in hospice. One theme that I’ve seen play out with many people is when they’re on their deathbed they look back and have regrets. “I wish I had taken that trip,” and so on. In fact a recent patient of mine had wanted to do an Alaska cruise her whole life. She was going to retire this year and take her dream trip, but she had a massive stroke and ended up dying a few months later, her dream never to be realized. These experiences have touched me mightily and helped me form my personal and family motto: Live without regrets! I don’t want to look back and review my life and think “Gee, I wish I had done this or that.” Instead I want to be able to say perhaps I didn’t get to do everything I wanted, but man what a ride!
Did you ever have a point where you wanted to quit, and how did you overcome it?
During the planning and preparing phase, I picked up two travel companions called Panic and Fear. I questioned my resolve, my ability to do this, the decision to homeschool my special-needs child, etc. But the overriding factor was when I asked myself “If you don’t do this, will you regret it?” YES! For the rest of my life!
Any time I have started to have doubts, I return to that question, and I keep pressing forward.
Did you feel you had to sacrifice anything to gain your dream?
In a sense, yes. I have sacrificed the stability of having a home and a good-paying, reliable job. I have had to leave close friends and community behind. I have given up some of my personal freedom because as a single parent I am with my child 24/7. I can’t go for a walk by myself as easily, or take a break from parenting when I would like. Back home I could have him stay with a friend or something, but we don’t have that luxury here. I have also given up some of the creature comforts like reliable Internet, air-conditioning, a car, a washer & dryer in my home, a dishwasher. Small sacrifices in the long term.
What was the biggest real world problem you confronted to do this?
Probably my son’s special needs. He has some anxiety and sensory issues. He is learning challenged as well. While travel is some of the best education a person can have, I also didn’t want to cripple him academically for his future. However, I’ve seen that his learning style works well with my teaching style, so it’s been a good fit. So far.
What was your biggest fear that you had to overcome to do this?
That I could really pull this off. I was afraid what the constant nomad lifestyle would do to my son’s anxiety. The thought of being in foreign countries, some places where I speak the language and others where I don’t, doing border crossings as a single parent with a small child, having to make sure we have enough food, shelter, etc.
But then I realized I do most of that at home anyway, so this isn’t really all that different when you think about it.
Do you feel you have failed ever?
The only failure would not be trying.
Who are your mentors?
The whole Twitter travel community (hashtags #RTW and #travel) are amazing. The two biggest cheerleaders I had when I began this crazy (initially to me at least) notion were the Vogels as well as the @GotPassport family who had recently moved to Thailand from America. Their help and the time they took to answer my questions helped me feel more confident that I could actually make this our life.
What have you learnt about yourself through this?
I’m a lot more stubborn, er, tenacious than I ever thought.
I suppose you would have to be, so how do you make your living?
I am a travel writer & photographer which helps pay some of the bills. The majority of my income comes from doing medical transcription.
What do you do just for fun?
Really, pretty much our whole life is “just for fun.” That was one of the purposes of this trip as well: To get more living into my life. Tigger and I both love to explore, love the beach, and are avid divers (although he hasn’t been able to get his certification yet and will on his 10th birthday).
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Tenacious, adventurous, compassionate.
Those seem the right words for you, it makes us wonder if you could host three people for dinner who would you invite and why?
Raymond E. Feist because he’s my favorite author. Nelson Mandela because he inspires and his story amazes me. And if she were still alive Mother Teresa. What an incredible woman! I wish I had an ounce of her compassion.
You have already told us that your pholosophy of life is Vivez sans regrets! Live without regrets! What does that mean to you?
I believe life is meant to be lived, and dreams are meant to be actively pursued.
Find more on their blog: 1dad1kid.com
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Talon Twitters as @1Dad1Kid