use-img-0433_sxvren8u-550?v=1

See the World, Find Yourself

The travel is where you'll go. The journey is who you'll be.

Article by Don Seaman

Photography by Chris McCormack

Originally published in Wayne Lifestyle

There’s an exhilaration that comes from going away. You never know what experiences you’ll bring back with you until you get out there. But travel isn’t just about being somewhere else, it’s about finding out more about yourself.

“Even from a bad experience, there’s so much organic growth and confidence that comes from within you. You come back home and you think ‘wait — I just did this in another country. Now I’m back home where it’s somewhere that I know? I can do anything.”

These are the words of Chris McCormack...professional traveler. He started his passion for travel during college as he embarked on a trip to Australia on a whim after a bad experience at school.  “I had my moment flying to Australia,” Chris says. “It was my first time doing this, and I saw the coastline from the plane. That’s when I knew I’d be doing this for the rest of my life. I didn’t know how, but I knew. I felt like Michael Jordan when he first picked up a basketball.”

Chris started his own travel company to help people see things they never would have, overcome their fear of travel, and to share his love of discovery. He’s their American guide on their journey, leading small groups to places they might never have the fire to do on their own.

But to do that right takes some preparation and experience. He’s an immersive traveler. He’ll embed himself in a country for months at a time, getting to know the place, the people, and the culture. But don’t think this is a tour group to see the canals of Venice or the Louvre. “I don’t care about the Chicagos or LAs of the world. I want to see their Montanas, their Tennessees. I’m not interested in going anywhere I call ‘renovated,’ filled with KFCs and 7-Elevens.”

“I’ve had people who have traveled with me tell me ‘I don’t know what I was waiting for. I should have done this years ago.’ How many times do we say that, and not just about travel? I should have done this years ago. But the only person who was holding us back was ourselves the whole time.”

“It’s probably a terrible business model, but I don’t want repeat customers,” Chris admits. “I want you to be able to do this on your own.” 

Chris began his “travel journey” nine years ago. “I started it with a really naive goal: ‘travel the world and get paid to do it.’ But as I started getting deeper into it, I realized that it was a lot bigger than just traveling and making money. It was about showing people how empowered they can be. Not just with travel. When you can make your way through public transportation and get to where you’re going without speaking the language, that’s empowering. That’s where confidence comes from.”

And from these confidence-building experiences, he’s learned life lessons that have integrated into his character. He met a man with a pegleg in Australia who questioned whether he wanted a souvenir or an experience. That simple question rebooted his ideas about materialism. 

In Myanmar, he overcame a potential nightmare that taught him a lesson about being prepared. He had no local currency and no quick way to get any without an ATM card.

“I said to myself ‘this is a test.’ This was a make-or-break moment.” Ultimately, Chris found his travel angel. A taxi driver saw him walking along the highway and offered him a ride, even after Chris insisted he had no money. This driver, the 13th to approach him, didn’t just drive away.

He was able to resolve his money issues quickly, but they’d formed a bond.

For the next 10 days, they drove around together, this man showing him the sights of Myanmar, meeting his family, sharing his food, and going to his home, which was really just an open shack, covered with cloth. It was proof to Chris that humanity can be wonderful — and can be found in the most unexpected places. (It also taught him to always have his ATM card handy.)

“I stopped asking ‘why is this happening to me’ and started saying ‘What’s the test here? What’s the lesson? What’s the experience I’m going to get out of this?’”

“It’s about pushing through the negativity, the doubt, and the fears and finding the courage to give yourself permission to live the life you want to live and be the person you want to be.”

Even seasoned travelers can have doubts. Chris had already seen Europe. He’d already been to Asia. But when it came to Cuba, something made him nervous. He’d called his mother in a panic the night before his flight, telling her how scared he was to take this trip. Her advice? “Well, you’d better figure it out, because you have a flight to catch tomorrow morning.” 

Her practicality recentered him and it ended up being one of the most memorable trips he’d ever taken. She knew what he had to do; she had his back, as his parents always did. They always made sure he’d pursue his dreams, no matter where they led him. That support gave him the security to find lessons throughout the globe and continue to shape who he’s becoming.

“Without struggle, there is no progress. You find a way. I learned that in Cuba. I learned that in Bali. Every day, it’s a struggle. Every day, they find a way. How many days do you really have like that here? I’ll bet it’s not many.”

“You don’t have to go to Cambodia to find yourself. Go to Amish Country. Go to Vermont. It will help you find your passion. It doesn’t have to be travel, but it’s a pathway to self-discovery.”

“The journey is the goal. Who you become in the process is so much more important. Who I’m becoming is so much more important than my tour company and my photos. Who I become is going to influence the next generation. For me, travel is the vehicle for being the best that I can be. For me, it’s travel. For you, it could be something else. But how do you know that until you try? The journey of personal development never ends. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to give yourself permission to do what you need to do.”


Go to thechrismccormack.net for more information about where Chris is going next and how you can be part of his journey. He can be contacted at thechrismccormack@gmail.com.

Related Businesses

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Parks + Camping

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Bucyrus, KS

At the Arboretum, visitors may experience and explore 13 gardens with more than 1,700 species of plants, trails that traverse...

Union Station

Adventure

Union Station

Kansas City, MO

Architectural Masterpiece. A place for great adventure. Where Kansas City Connects. These phrases—and more—are regularly used...

Parc Duluth

Hotels + Motels

Parc Duluth

Duluth, GA

As the leader in hospitality-enriched senior living, Parc Communities specializes in developing and operating high-end senior...

See More

Related Articles

See More