The Road Less Traveled By: Emily Girdler

“College is about furthering your education in order to succeed and do bigger things with your life,” said Dani Inman. “Traveling and taking advantage of your own time between high school and post-secondary education is crucial.”

Dani Inman knew that at the age of 18 she had a decision to make. She could either head straight into college like the rest of her friends, or she could take some time off to travel and find herself. The decision was easy for Inman, and she decided that she needed to explore the world a little before going to school.

Inman graduated high school in May of 2013, and just four short months later she would be packing her suitcases to move from her hometown Hudson, Wisconsin. While most young adults her age were picking out classes to take she was picking out the destinations she wanted to visit. Her entire life was surrounded by traveling and visiting new places, so that is exactly what she wanted to continue to do.

“Traveling are some of our earliest memories growing up,” said Justin Inman, Dani’s older brother. “We used to road trip across the states in a motor home so we have seen most of the continental US and experienced a lot of the different cultures. We have even been to places like the Cayman Islands, France, Mexico, Costa Rica and even Canada. As a family we loved to travel so it is no surprise Dani wanted to travel more before heading to school.”

Inman first decided on traveling to California because of her love for marine biology. She intended on moving out to the coast in order to gain residency and then start school later on. The summer after graduation she saved up all of her money from working and then drove her 1990 hunter green Ford Ranger to San Diego with nothing more then what could fit in the bed of her truck.

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Dani Inman, and friend Kara enjoying the weather and snorkeling at Laguna Beach in May of 2014. (JEM Capstone/ Dani Inman & Emily Girdler)

 

While living out in California, Inman moved around to different parts. She didn’t want to be confined to one part of California and she knew that in order to find herself and to really travel she needed to keep bouncing around to different cities. She started off in San Diego and then a few months later moved over to Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach was where Inman had a taste of the real adult life. She worked three jobs and had to pay all of her bills by herself. Eventually she became bored with her everyday schedule so she decided it was time for another move.

“Eventually that routine burnt me out so I decided I wanted to try my hand at being a snowboard instructor,” said Inman. “A lot of my friends talked about Big Bear Mountain because it was super close and they would all travel up there on the weekends during the winter. I went up there for an interview, got a job as a teacher, and proceeded to teach myself via YouTube how to snowboard in the weeks leading up to my move up there.”

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Inman on top  of Big Bear Mountain in San Bernardino, California on, September 27, 2014.  (JEM Capstone/Dani Inman & Emily Girdler)

 

While working out at Big Bear Mountain, Inman still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life but she knew she wasn’t ready to head back into a classroom. She decided to take a trip with her co-worker Danni Schecter to Denver, Colorado to visit high school friends. While out in Colorado Inman got the call that the snowboarding season was over and that the mountain was closing down for a few weeks. Inman and Schecter decided to just stay in Colorado since they already had a car, and just make a way for themselves.

“Dani and I traveled all over in the past 3 years, from California to Colorado we made stops all along the way,” said Schecter. “I think there is something truly inspiring about traveling to find yourself the way Dani did. I’m 24 years old and I’m still traveling and enjoying all the new places I visit and the new people I get to meet along the way.”

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Inman and Schecter enjoying a day of snow boarding in Colorado, on February 26, 2015. (JEM Capstone/ Dani Inman & Emily Girdler)

While Inman still travels for fun, after her move to Colorado in 2015 she decided she was ready to go back to school. She is currently enrolled in online courses in hopes of getting her associates degree, and plans to go back to a university once she saves up the money to do so. As far as doing the college thing backwards and taking a few years to travel, Inman says she regrets nothing.

“I gained so much more from traveling than I think I ever would have going straight into a 4-year college,” said Inman. “Traveling is just a different kind of learning. I think it was important because not everything I learned could be found in a textbook. It taught me that there is simply so much to be learned by merely observing new things and getting out of your comfort zone, talking to strangers, and asking questions at every chance you get.”

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