Sunglass Warehouse is a brand for people who live life to the fullest. Our customers are just normal people, but they know how to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and turn everyday experiences into great adventures. SW: Profiles is an interview blog series that shares these unique stories about our customers. From a tattoo shop owner directing horror films, to a young tech professional searching for his Jewish roots, these seemingly different people share a common thread that we’ll uncover together.
Anyone who knows Camryn Walton knows she loves Indianapolis. Involved in numerous city initiatives, you talk to her for one minute and can’t help but feel her passion for Naptown. It’s contagious, really. For this reason, it came as a surprise when she announced her next adventure: a road trip and one-way ticket to India.
Originally from a small town in Illinois, Camryn, along with her boyfriend, John, decided to take a giant leap of faith to travel. In our interview with Camryn, we talk about what propelled her on this journey, her desire to experience new cultures, and the importance of stepping outside of comfort zones.
Here we go.
So give us a little background. How did you end up in Indianapolis?
After I graduated from Butler, I accepted a job through Orr Fellowship so that I could stay in Indy. I was excited about the program because I really fell in love with the city.
I worked there for two years, absolutely loved it, but always kind of knew that at one point I wanted to experience something different, even though I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. I didn’t know if that meant traveling, moving, or getting a new job somewhere else, but it was something.
What happened next?
I met my boyfriend, John, who was also thinking about moving away from Indy and wanted to take a trip before the move. Basically, it was just kind of this big, grand idea that neither of us were acting upon. We were both at a point where, you know, we didn’t have any commitments. I didn’t have a house. I didn’t have a kid. I wasn’t married. I didn’t even have a dog. I was at a point where I could make a radical change. It would be scary, but it would also be okay.
So we sat down one weekend in May and thought about what a trip like this would actually look like. On the practical side, we talked about finances, housing, our jobs, and everything that it would take to do this. By the end of the weekend, we decided that, yup, we were going to do it. It was terrifying and it was exciting.
Camryn gearing up before the road trip
How did your friends and family react when you told them?
So, they were ultimately on board.
That weekend, after we determined our finances and how we were going to leave our apartments and jobs, we decided that we should talk to our parents before we made things official. That was really important to us. Not to necessarily get their approval, but to get their support.
So John and I called them and told them. They were both very supportive. My dad asked a lot of the hard questions, like, “how are you going to get a job when you get back?” and “how much money do you have saved?” It was a good reality check because those were questions we had to have answered.
I think once I was able to answer all of his questions he felt a lot better about it. and reassure him, he got on board. John’s parents were similar.
How did things progress from there?
Once we got their seal of approval we told ourselves that we were going to do it. I think the most important part is that when you say you’re going to do something, you actually do it.
This might be cheesy, but I actually made a New Year’s resolution to set more intentions. In this whole planning process, I set the intention, we are doing this. It’s going to be hard, the trip planning will be tough, figuring out where we’re going, saving all this money… it will be challenging. But we’re doing it. I think that without setting the intention of doing that, it would have fallen through or we would have chickened out.
It sounds like a lot at once, leaving your jobs, planning a trip not knowing where you guys will end up. Can you talk to us about taking that leap of faith?
Yeah… so I wasn’t looking for an immediate change. I thought, maybe, in the next few years, it would happen. But I wasn’t rushing to get out of Indy, or making any moves towards that. But then I met John, we just started talking about it, and finally decided that we both wanted to leave. And if we kept talking about it, it would never happen. We both wanted to go out west and explore the national parks, which is obviously more fun with another person. It’s hard to explain because we both just wanted to. It was pretty simple.
At first, I was ashamed to say that I would never have taken this trip alone. Because it’s true, I wouldn’t have. For me, it’s more fun to do these things with another person: a boyfriend, a sister, a dad, a friend, etc. You learn so much about yourself taking a trip like this, but you also learn a lot about another person when you’re in challenging situations.
Camryn and John on their road trip through the western part of the United States
I agree, experiences are great when you can share them! Your plan seems well-thought out, but I know India can be a very overwhelming place. How do you see that dynamic working when you’re over there? The logistics of it all just seem nuts.
It feels like we’re planning two separate trips that are 5 years apart. We’ve already learned so much about the cultures of the states, whether it’s Colorado, Oregon, California… you get the point. But then the states as a whole are also so different than somewhere like India.
In the US, we had to book every night in advance. During the two-month road trip, we knew where we were camping each day. We knew if we were Couchsurfingg, staying in an Airbnb, or if we were staying with friends. We had to figure out all that stuff in advance because people in the US have schedules, routines, etc. You can’t just show up and sleep on the side of the road somewhere — that’s illegal in most states.
For India, we have a one-way ticket to Kochi in the south, our first three nights booked to get our feet under us, and our route laid out. We have our plane booked from Goa in the south to Delhi in the north because it’s cheaper to book it in advance. So, that ends up being about 6 weeks in the south, which is how long we think we’ll want to be there.
We’ve budgeted another 6 to 8 weeks in the north once we fly to Delhi. And then, at some point, we’ll check prices to fly home. Or go somewhere else.
Wow, that’s a lot.
As a planner, it’s been a little stressful for me to be okay with that, and to know that we won’t have wifi or cell phone service everywhere we go. It really will be relying on the locals. Which, ultimately, is the experience we want. And one of the reasons we chose India was because it does have such a rich culture and because it’s a friendly nation. It’s cheap and people backpack there a lot. It’s doable. We just have no idea of what it will actually entail… like, the Indian railway system is absurd.
Knowing that I’ll have another person who I know is competent in traveling, who has my back, and who can tell me when I need to suck it up and get on the dirty train makes it a little less scary, though.
Any other reservations going into this trip?
In India, I’m most nervous about the whole culture shock thing.
Yeah, I think that’s understandable.
Adjusting to the environment is going to be tough. People say India is crazy and beautiful, and if you can embrace the beautiful part, then you can get past the craziness. But you have to prepare yourself mentally, even though I think it’s impossible to do completely. Some of these cities are so unlike anything in the US. A small city in India is 10 million people. And that’s a small, small city.
There’s just so many people in India. The culture is different, and traveling as a woman in India is different. We’ve been told to tell people that we’re brother and sister. Because it’s not part of the culture for a man and a woman, who aren’t married, to travel together.
We were also told that I shouldn’t sit in the front of the cab, wear jewelry, or show my shoulders. So those are the types of things that I’m really happy I’ll have John for. It will also be interesting experiencing things that he won’t experience because he’s a man.
I know that you recently traveled to Argentina. Did that trip propel your wanderlust?
It was kind of funny timing, actually. The week we decided we were going on this trip out west and to India was the week before I left for Argentina for two weeks. This is may be cliché and cheesy, but I really do think that every time you travel and you put yourself outside your comfort zone, you feel different and inspired. You feel something other than what you were feeling in your comfortable routine. And you’re like, wow, there is so much to do and so much to see.
When we were down in Patagonia, I wore the same outfit for days in a row and it didn’t matter. You’re in this mindset where you’re like, I’m not here to look cute, I’m here to explore and to enjoy time with these people. And when you don’t have internet access all the time, you have to talk. Whether that be with your friends or people you’re meeting for the first time. When you don’t know where to eat, you ask a local for help. You just do things that you wouldn’t do when you’re in a city you know.
I wanted to stay in Argentina forever. And for some reason, I had never thought of South America as this need-to-go destination. John and I had already chosen India, but we want our next trip to be South America.
It sounds like a good change in perspective.
I’m also just looking forward to not checking my email constantly, and for that to be okay. In this day-to-day, you get used to things like, how many meetings do I have today, what emails do I have to send, what surveys do I have to answer… but none of that really matters. You realize what’s important to you. If that’s learning, experiencing a new culture, going to museums, or being with a person you love… that stuff becomes a lot more evident when you can step back.
Everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do when I get back. John and I have both been very open-minded about where we want to end up. But, on the other hand, we haven’t really talked about it too much because we know that we’re going to change our minds a million times.
Who knows, maybe when I get back I’ll be longing for a routine again, and I’ll want that community that I had in Indy. Because I really do love Indianapolis and it has given me so much. At one point, I saw myself on these two different paths. I could either continue getting really involved in Indy, looking at my next career move into an urban planning or community development role, or I could leave. And it was hard, but when I thought back to my bigger goals of experiencing something new… I mean, you never know until you try. And I know that I’ll always love Indy and that I can come back to it. I’ve also realized that if I spend time building up freelance work, then I can do it full time if I really want to.
Do you think that there’s anything you’ll miss in the US?
I think that I’ll miss having the same bed every night. Right now we’re pretty rugged — camping, couch surfing, stuff like that. So I’ll miss those lazy days where you just sleep on the couch all day, read, and watch Netflix. It’s going to be pretty go-go-go for a while. But I’m also so excited for that part that I’m not that nervous.
Camryn’s home for a night while road tripping through the western part of the US
From everything I’ve read about India, you just have to get used to being around a ton of people. The city is noisy and you can’t just eat or drink whatever you want. You have to be really smart and aware of what you’re doing. I think living will just be a little more uncomfortable.
John is so good at keeping me grounded, though. He is super open, positive, and willing to do anything. He’s always like, yup, let’s do it, it will be fine. That’s his mentality. And I used to think that that was my mentality, too, until I started dating him and quickly realized that he’s way more like that than I am. He’s always like, it will be fine, you won’t know until you try. That sort of thing.
I’m happy to be traveling with someone who isn’t timid, and who will challenge me to get on a train, sit next to a stranger, and talk to them.
That’s great! We wish you the best of luck!