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Being Laid Off From Work Turns Into The Trip Of A Lifetime For A Native Iowan

Taking life's lemons and turning them into lemonade has the perfect example in a native Iowa woman. When 44-year-old Michelle Heiter's job was eliminated last year, she turned the bad news into her ticket out.

Taking life's lemons and turning them into lemonade has the perfect example in a native Iowa woman.

When 44-year-old Michelle Heiter's lost her job last year, she turned the bad news into her ticket out.

Just last January, Heiter had a steady job out in Los Angeles. When the company eliminated the job and offered her either a severance package or a lower paying job, she took the cash and put it toward a once in a lifetime trip.

At 44-years-old, Michelle Heiter may not strike you as the typical backpacker.  But she said seeing the world was always her dream.

"Oh, it was a dream come true and it was an amazing year.  I learned so much about myself and the world," Heiter said.

She started her journey in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  From there she continued the trip through Laos and other parts of Asia, even political hotspots like Myanmar.  And despite traveling alone for most of the journey, Heiter said she rarely felt unsafe.

"To me, it was the fulfillment of a dream come true.  And I learned so much.  People are fantastic around the world, they're very helpful," Heiter said.

"Don't believe all the negative things you hear," she said.

Heiter spent her time abroad practicing English with novice monks, watching the sun rise over Angkor Watt as well as exploring, tasting and getting to know the people in the different cultures.  Over the course of 14 months, she toured parts of Asia and Europe as well as both Central and South America. Heiter said she hit more than 20 countries on her trip and the experience has taught her about herself and others.

"It's not a weakness to ask for help.  And with this kind of a trip, with the language issues and maps and where you're going.  Even with the best technology, you still need help from people and most people are willing to do that for you," Heiter said.

She's been back in the United States less than a week now and said though she's very excited to be home, she still has the travel bug.

"I can't wait for the next trip and who knows where that will be," she said.

"There's so much of the world to see and I'm just going to keep seeing it one step at a time," she said.

Heiter chronicled her journey online through her blog, aptly named 'Continental Hopscotch'.

Read her travel blog here.


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