Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Trip of a Lifetime Part 1: Ticket to Ride

In my first post on December 14, 2010 I wrote:

“…assuming enough people get involved to make it worth continuing with this blog, I will chose 6 of the participants to come to Costa Rica as my guests.  We’ll continue the conversation in person.  I’ll pay all expenses including economy airfare…”

Click here to read  the entire post.

Then on December 21:

“The idea is to use the blog to select a few people who together would create a magical few days”

“Perhaps describing my goals for the trip will shed more light on how I am going to choose the participants.“

  • First and foremost I want to have fun and enjoy the company.
  • I also want to get video of the most highly evolved travelers I can find having a wonderful time.
  • I want to get audio of these same people talking about their experience.
  • I want to use the video and audio clips for training and marketing.
  • I want to advance my own growth and education in exploring the ‘interesting questions which resonate’.”

Click here to read  the entire post.

In June I invited 7 people, 5 of whom were able to come.  The trip took place from October 19-25.

One of the participants, Patty Chang Anker, has chronicled the trip far better than I could ever hope to do myself.  Here is her first installment:
Ticket to Ride- Patty Chang Anker

“I can hardly believe it.  I am settled in my window seat, flying BY MYSELF, to Costa Rica.

The nice lady sitting next to me asks if it’s for business or pleasure.

I feel guilty answering.  I won a free trip online.  Just for me.  My 2 small kids are with their dad going to see their grandmother.  They drove away this morning fighting and crying with each other.  I packed them up for their trip and then ran around packing myself.  I forgot rainpants, and I’m going to a rainforest.  I hardly ever travel without my family.  I didn’t know how to use the airport computer to check in.  I don’t know how to use the I-pod in my bag.

I sound crazy.  What kind of person leaves her family to take a vacation with strangers that she won on the internet?   I sound like I should be reported to the authorities.

Turns out my seatmate Meryl is an adoption social worker who also has a son with special needs.  We have so much in common – so I tell her all.  How wonderful, but how hard it has been, all these years by my kids’ sides.  How right now, everyone is stable, good, and how I don’t know what next month will bring.  How when this opportunity came up, in a year where I’ve committed to saying yes to things that scare me, I couldn’t say no.

It’s being billed as the “Trip of a Lifetime” by Costa Rica Expeditions (, the most established and reputable tour company in the country.  The president, Michael S. Kaye, a pioneer of eco-tourism, invited 5 active participants of his travel blog ( to visit him in Costa Rica.  We will be filmed for their marketing purposes (hmmmm, hope that doesn’t end up on YouTube), participate in programs he is piloting and give him feedback.  There will be networking opportunities for me as a public relations pro, and untold opportunities to try new things, starting with this solo flight into the unknown.

Meryl takes it all in.

“This is such a good thing you’re doing.”

“Do you really think so?” I gush, breathing a huge sigh of relief.  “Because you’re a licensed professional!  And a mom.  Your opinion…”

“You have my official stamp of approval,” Meryl says, stamping her palm.  The sun is setting over New York as we take off.  Meryl smiles, giving me a thumbs up.

I grin the biggest grin, and look out the window.”

Next week follow Patty in: “Bienvenidos a…Costa Rica!”

In the meantime share how you felt as you set off on a particularly momentous trip.

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Comments and Replies

  • At November 17, 2010
    3:54:09 pm
    dorothea said:

    Of course you were right to go. Amazing things happen with our kids when we’re away from them, real growth.

    You’re reminding me when I went on a yoga retreat/adventure vacation in Costa Rica when my daughter was 5. This trip, I took her along. She played while I did yoga, then every afternoon there was a field trip: to the rain forest, the beach, a volcano.

    But other times, I left her with her nanny while I took trips — to the Caribbean for yoga, or to Prague for my 50th birthday. As a single mother, and someone who was always single, I really needed the breaks.

    • At November 18, 2010
      8:57:59 am
      Patty Chang Anker replied
      to :

      Hi Dorothea, that is such a good point, that real growth can happen when we’re away from our kids, for everyone involved. We adopted our oldest around the time of the Sept 11th attacks, and I was so terrified of flying anywhere without them. It’s been a long process to feel ready to separate, but we all have to eventually, right? Thanks for sharing your story!

    • At November 17, 2010
      9:15:56 am
      Roseann Bowerman said:

      Michael and Patty,
      I just love Patty’s revelation that she had committed to “saying yes to things that scare me.” This strikes home to me as well. Traveling can be daunting, but it is such a worthwhile activity. I recall a couple of occasions that to others might not seem scary but for me were a “stretch.” One was the decision to travel to Costa Rica for Spanish immersion school and live with a family. This ultimately turned out so well that I did it 3 more times, twice in Panama and also in Mexico. Another situation was when I decided to fly to Italy by myself to meet my husband who was already in Milan. The real challenge in my mind was having to change airlines at Heathrow…this was pretty amazing as I had to get my bags and go through customs in Heathrow and then rush to checkin and through security once again to get on a different flight. Again, not a big deal to some people but the idea of it gave me pause. But thinking back my life is so much richer and I feel so much more capable for having done these things. En espanol: Vale la pena!
      I am looking forward to the rest of your story!

      • At November 17, 2010
        11:49:26 am
        Patty Chang Anker replied
        to :

        Hi Roseann, Spanish immersion school plus a homestay?? That is so adventurous! My parents immigrated to the US from Taiwan when they were graduate students, with English as a second language and no family here. I try to imagine moving away from my family to a foreign culture and start breaking out in hives! I try to channel them when I want to be brave, I will channel you as well! Warm wishes, Patty

      • At November 17, 2010
        7:31:59 am
        Shannon Borrego said:

        As another of the lucky participants chosen for the Trip Of A Lifetime, I was taking off from Miami probably about the time that Patty was struggling with the airport computer check-in. Like Patty, I was experiencing feelings of apprehension mixed with anticipation. It was scary to be committing to a week of shared activities with a group of people I had never met, including Michael! However, in some ways I think the beginning of any trip is exciting. The possibility (and hope) of wonderful, life-changing experiences lies ahead, and you haven’t yet experienced lost luggage, rain-soaked days, or traveler’s upset tummy. And if you travel enough, you will probably experience at least one of those things. Traveling alone, on my way to San Jose, also gave me a certain anonymity which I enjoyed. I could read my book, order a glass of wine, nap, or just daydream about what lay ahead, without having to think about anyone else’s needs. At that point in the trip, the week’s itinerary was vague, so my imagination tried to fill in the days with possible activities. Little did I know that my imagination couldn’t hold a candle to the magical adventures that Michael had in store for us.

        • At November 18, 2010
          9:00:24 am
          Patty Chang Anker replied
          to :

          Hi Shannon! Want to hear something funny? Once we had all gotten to know and like each other on the trip you said “did anyone else worry that everyone else would get along and you’d feel left out?” And I panicked inside, RETROACTIVELY. I had not thought to worry about that before the trip but if I had thought of it I sure would have worried! Glad it all worked out great :)