Jess Meyer is a Physician Assistant at Advantage Orthopedic and Sports Medicine and he loves to travel. Growing up, he took trips with his family, but those trips didn’t extend much beyond where the family station wagon would take them. The day he left home the real exploration began. Jess served in the military for four years and with that, he learned how to travel light and live out of a duffle bag. During his service, he was stationed in the Persian Gulf, in Saudi Arabia. He met many people and saw different cultures and at that moment he realized there was a whole world he hadn’t seen – that he wanted someday to explore.
In college he made his way across the globe on a shoestring budget, often staying in hostels and with friends. He spent time in Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar and even lived in Spain for some time. Jess finished college at Stanford University and went on to become a PA and following that he began work and had a family. He missed having the time to take extended trips. So, after many years of practice and saving his vacation time, he decided to take the time for a month-long trip.
With a couple of years of Covid restrictions behind him, it was time to travel again! In the Summer of 2022, the stars aligned and Jess, his wife, Rachelle and their two kids ages 14 and 11 set off for a European adventure. His wife did much of the logistical planning and Jess did what he described as the “mechanical work”. When they arrived, he carried the luggage, rented the cars and navigated their route. Together, they made a good team.
“Traveling is good for us and forces us to bond. Sometimes when you spend so much time in work and school you lose your connection with one another,” says Jess.
So, as they headed out it was time to put away the phones and explore. They started their trip in Portugal and from there visited Germany, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro.
While they pre-booked their flights and a few activities, they were fairly spontaneous and at times just showed up in a new city and figured out what to do from there. The kids were excited to taste the food and try speaking the different languages as they moved through the different countries.
“Travel is a gift, and it teaches us all to open our minds, be more culturally sensitive and get out of the bubble that we live in that is so different from the rest of the world,” said Jess. It was great for the kids as they learned how to be flexible when traveling and immersed in another culture. Jess wanted to instill that it is important to be respectful of people in their counties and together they found that people across all different cultures are very friendly.
Jess and his wife like to explore and find things that are off the beaten path. Those areas that are less touristy and unique places where there are few Americans. They found that traveling though the Eastern European countries of Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, not a lot of people spoke English. With a language barrier the family had to be creative in their communication. Technology also worked in their favor and has made travel much easier over the years. From using Google translate to help overcome language barriers and read restaurant menus, to having a GPS that will help to navigate new places, it is so much easier now that many of the complexities of traveling are gone.
When Jess and his family returned from their adventure, they were tired from a month of travel, but they were closer as a family. “It was a memorable time. It was great being together with our kids and our family and having quality time. Today, our kids see their parents in a different perspective – as travel companions,” he said.