From Big Ben to the Giza Pyramids, from Israel to the beaches of Thailand, Brian Cretin ’99 has seen it all. He dropped his whole life in the U.S. and has been traveling on a round-the-world trip for more than five months.
Cretin was not always so eager to travel. As an undergraduate computer science major, Brian had to be persuaded to study abroad. “Most of my friends had studied abroad my junior year, but I wasn’t really interested,” he says.
But their stories and their enthusiasm for study abroad made him reconsider. “My friend Kim said, ‘This is right up your alley. You really should do this,’” recalls Cretin.
He credits the Central College Abroad program in London with shaping this life choice. “It really was the best time and best semester, and it was very influential. I thought, ‘Wow, if I had done this earlier, I may have changed my major.’ If it weren’t for London, I wouldn’t have thought of doing this now,” Cretin says.
After his return, though he traveled occasionally, Cretin only dreamed of long-term travel. “When I graduated in 1999, there were great opportunities for work related to computer science, and travel got put on the backburner,” he says. But his dream never went away, since “once you travel, it’s hard to get rid of it.” In 2004, he returned to London, and his passion was rekindled.
It wasn’t until December of 2010, however—when he met a pack of young Australian girls spending three months in South America—that he began to seriously consider the possibility of long-term travel.
“It was really striking because these girls were young, not rich, yet they were traveling for a long period of time,” Cretin says. “Once I knew it was possible, I told myself that I needed to decide. I didn’t want to prolong this decision.”
He gave himself a deadline: after a month, he would make a decision about whether to do it—and where. He researched the possibilities, checking travel blogs for help with the logistics. By the end of January, his mind was made up. He put his career on hold, sold his car and moved out of his apartment.
Cretin recently finished a seven-week stay in Thailand. But his journey began in August in a fitting city: London, where he was first bitten by the travel bug. A few highlights of his trip so far have been an unplanned visit to Jerusalem, scuba-diving ventures near the island of Ko Tao in Thailand and a trip King Tut’s tomb and treasures in the Valley of Kings. “It was something I had dreamed about since I was a kid,” he says. He has no set itinerary for the rest of the trip, which allows him the freedom to explore at his leisure.
Cretin has even considered the possibility of making his trip more permanent. “I basically have two options: just travel for nine months to a year or take time to work and earn money and travel for over a year,” he says. With offers from U.S. companies already rolling in, he is leaning toward the second option—wandering with no end.
Follow Cretin’s progess around the globe at www.viewfromacretin.com.