I grew up in a small, 800 SF apartment in Zurich, Switzerland. We never had a car, and we did not have a television until I was 12 years old. Travelling was not something my family was able to afford to do. However, once a year we went to the mountains, which were about 30 miles away from home. For months we would make plans for this mountain trip. And the excitement for this annual mountain trip was larger than today when I “routinely” travel around the globe.
When people of various backgrounds and ages list their hobbies, travel is very often one of them. Over the last 30+ years, I have traveled a lot. And while some of that travel has been for pleasure, the primary purpose has been for business. As a global company, Avalon Park Group has business activities all over the world. While I spend a lot of time traveling for business, I like to spend the weekends with my family in Central Florida. I love Central Florida and Avalon Park, hence when I come home from travel for the weekends, and for that reason, I would plan my business travel as quick trips. I remember one particular whirlwind trip from a few years ago. I left Sydney, Australia on a Wednesday morning and spent the evening and the next morning in New Delhi, India. On Thursday evening I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, took the train to Zurich, Switzerland, and spent Friday in the Zurich office. I then returned home to Orlando on Saturday. Wow! Four continents in 4 days. That Sunday, I fell asleep at Church.
I would not recommend traveling as I do sometimes, however, I do highly recommend you travel and visit other countries and continents. One of my daily activities is to read US and European media, and by doing so I can see how often both sides of the Atlantic see each other in a way that could not be further from the truth. In a globalized world, I truly believe that traveling and witnessing the world with your own eyes is the start to more peace and understanding throughout the world.
Many years ago, I asked the legendary former principal, Pam Sanders, what it would take to make Avalon Elementary School the best elementary school in Central Florida. She told me, “Teachers are often the least traveled people. I have some teachers on my staff, who have not even ever traveled out of the state of Florida. Don’t you think it would make a difference if a teacher, who is teaching about the Great Wall in China would have been there, instead of just from a book? Don’t you think if we could have teachers travel the world, interact with other cultures, learn about their history and their school systems, it would make a difference?” I agreed and we immediately implemented a travel program where APG sponsored travel for Avalon Elementary school teachers during the summer breaks to Switzerland, China, Australia, South Africa, and South America. Many of those teachers would have never traveled on their own to those continents. Avalon Elementary school became a Blue-Ribbon school (one of the best 300 schools in America), and when I visited a few months ago, I observed a teacher talking about Nelson Mandela and pointing to the sites Mandela had been, where that teacher had also personally visited.
Travelling is always an adventure, and at times very, thanks to a competitive market, it can also be quite affordable. When Avalon Park Orlando started construction in the 1990’s I was based in Fort Lauderdale, and Southwest Airlines offered a round trip to Orlando for $19. Those days one could travel to Europe at times for less than $500. Until September 11, 2001, flying places in the US was almost like getting on a bus. Security was “light,” and getting in and out of most airports was fast. Things have changed, but we all understand, safety must be first. During Covid, very few people traveled, and it was sad to see the deserted airports, with all the stores closed and very few people. On one of my flights from New York to Zurich, I was on a plane that could seat over 300, but there were only 9 passengers, and it turned out 5 were airline staff. On one of my recent trips, my flight was one of only 4 leaving New York on an international route, instead of 4 flights every 10 minutes. This meant no lines at check-in, security, or the gates. And of course, no delays in departure or landing because of too much air traffic. Even early departures were happening. So, while I have enjoyed the less crowded airports, I believe that we will start seeing the airports around the globe filling up again. People are beginning to travel again, and that is a good thing for our economy, particularly in Central Florida.
Where will you be heading this year? Will you be flying or taking other transportation? Let me know at info@AvalonParkSun.com and you could be featured in a future publication.