Editor’s Notebook | “Former” News Reporters Quit Jobs and Travel the World

We have all encountered it – the infamous office pool.  Put a dollar in the hat and cross your fingers along with your toes.  Hopefully that night the $400M Mega-Millions jackpot rockets your finances along with your co-workers’.  “Finally!”, you scream, “The excuse has come!” Time to walk out toward your personal dreams.

Hi there.  Look over here… on the other shoulder.  Welcome back to reality.  Get back to work.

Oren & Cassie Liebermann (42nd Class)
Oren & Cassie Liebermann (42nd Class)

That sobering voice wasn’t good enough for a young married couple in the prime of their career and there was no Mega-Millions.  Newlyweds Oren Liebermann and Cassie Liebermann had a dream that was calling.  “Even before we were married, we always had the urge to travel”, Cassie Liebermann said.  Although, most dreams don’t start like this.

In 2011, three drunk Australians were sitting in a hostel in Jerusalem.  Next to them sat Liebermann and his wife.  “They were talking about how they ‘smashed’ a lot of countries”, Oren Liebermann recalls.  “By ‘smashed’ they meant they got absolutely drunk in each country around the globe.  I thought, ‘What are these guys, a bunch of degenerates?'”

It turns out they were doctors, and they were fulfilling a dream.

It was the “ah-ha” moment, and later… the decision… a one year trip around the world.

“We realized if they can do it, we can do it.  If people can take a break from their careers and travel, so can we”, said Liebermann.

So maybe it’s not uncommon for middle-aged doctors to run free around the world, but these two were 29 and 31 and were just hitting their professional strides.  Lets add, both were on news salaries for much of their young careers.  Cassie Liebermann, a former WBOC reporter, gave up on news just a few years prior and decided to become a teacher.  “Right before the trip, I just received a great promotion”, she added.

Eiffel Tower at night (42nd Class)
Eiffel Tower at night (42nd Class)

Oren Liebermann was in his third job as a reporter at CBS 3 (KYW) in Philadelphia, the nation’s 4th largest market.  At the end of his contract, he quit.  “Why not?”, said Liebermann, “What’s stopping you?  Obviously there’s a lot of professional pressures, especially in news.  You get the first job, so you can get the second job, so you can get the third job, and you just keep working your way up.  I stepped away from that.”

“You’re crazy”, I told them in an interview.  “You’re definitely not the first people to think we’re nuts”, he laughed.

What would they tell their families who invested so much in their well-being?  If you can believe it, Oren’s family was on-board… for the short-term.  They suggested a couple months.  Cassie’s family, surprisingly, supported the entire one-year hiatus.

The two pulled together what finances they had, took money from wedding gifts, and went on a strict budget for about a year.  “When friends asked us to go out to dinner we ate at home and met them out later.  If you look at the pictures from our trip, I’m wearing the same 3 t-shirts”, he laughed.  Cassie said it was about taking that leap of faith and trusting your heart and your dreams.   She continued, “You know the risks going into it, but you also have to trust yourself as a person.”

They hit 30 countries on 5 continents.  “We did not hit Antarctica and Australia”, Liebermann said.  Some of the highlights of the trip included Machu Picchu, The Great Wall, Ankor Wat, and the Himalayas.  They took buses, planes, trains, scooters and blogged about their journey on their website “42nd Class”.

But on the trip of a lifetime, on a hike in the Himalayas halfway around the world, Liebermann felt abnormally weak.   Later that night he was startled.  “I was standing next to the mirror in the bathroom and turned to look at myself and said ‘Oh my god!'”  He jumped on a scale and weighed himself.  “It was in kilograms so I was doing the conversion in my head when I realized I lost 40 pounds!”

Oren Liebermann in a Nepal hospital.
Oren Liebermann in a Nepal hospital.

On Valentine’s day 2014, shivering in a sleeping bag at a Nepal hospital, Liebermann found out he is a type one diabetic.  He added, “I could have died on that hike”.

His love Cassie watched him deteriorate.  Oren had reached a point where his body was consuming its own muscle.  “It was very, very scary”, She said.

The trip had to be cut short, or did it?

“We didn’t let it bother us”, he claims.  His wife added, “Nothing in life can really hold you back from what you want to accomplish or the dreams that you have.”  A quick stint back in the U.S. for recovery, and they were back in southeast Asia.  “If our parents thought we were crazy for traveling for a year, they definitely thought we were crazy for getting back on the road”, Liebermann remarked.

I guess it’s fair to say that dreams sometimes overpower professional accomplishment. These two proved that.  Here they are, one week removed from the final landing, in one piece and claim nothing to fear.  At their age, very few can say that they did what they did.

47 weeks on the road, a lifelong disease, but “No regrets”, they both confirm.

Lets put this trip in perspective for you.  Yesterday my fiancee and I marked 52 weeks in our new adventure in Indianapolis.  One week ago, the Liebermann’s marked 47 weeks traveling the world.  Equally no regrets and much accomplished in life.

“You don’t need money to be happy” Liebermann said. “You give a cab driver in Laos $30 and you paid his week”.  His wife Cassie laid a claim for us all, “Travel makes you a richer person, and not richer in terms of money.”  Liebermann interrupted, “Definitely not in terms of money.”  They both laughed.  Cassie continued, “Your whole perspective in life takes shape as you meet these people throughout your journey.”

So after 47 weeks, are they worth more?  “We’re very poor [now]” Cassie laughed.

By whose account?  Certainly not mine.

 

VISIT THEIR BLOG: “The 42nd Class”

 

Meet the couple that did what you wish you could: