OUR STORY

Turning Tough No’s Into Transformative Yes’s for the T1D Community

FROM T1WT FOUNDER, SAVANNAH JOHNSON:

I’ve joked that my two most essential travel items are my passport and my insulin. When you hear this, you might think I’ve been traveling forever, but I didn’t start traveling until I was 19, when I told my parents that I was burnt out, taking time off college, and going to Southeast Asia without a plan. I had attempted to travel prior–as a high school student, I applied to a handful of summer programs boasting rugged outdoors adventures and road less traveled itineraries. I wanted to see the world, to know the world, to discover my potential to impact it.

 

I wanted to see the world, to know the world,
to discover my potential to impact it.

 

I didn’t see any limitations to doing so, but my diabetes was cited time and time again by the travel companies as reason I couldn’t enroll. The environments were “too remote,” the access to reliable healthcare or refrigeration “inconsistent,” the staff “ill-equipped to handle” it. I was diagnosed when I was two years old, in great health, and my diabetes management had become second nature. Those rejections were impossible not to take personally.

Things finally changed when a gap year company said “yes” to me. They called me after I submitted my application to discuss diabetes particularities unknown to them. I went into the call expecting to be rejected, but instead, they told me that, as long as I felt confident I could manage it, then I was welcome to enroll. Though I didn’t know at the time what a gift that “yes” would be, I left the U.S. to backpack Southeast Asia on a one-way ticket to a new me.
 
Traveling transformed my interests, passions, hobbies, and senses of adventure and global, social, political, and environmental responsibility. Traveling opened academic doors, career doors, language, social, and spiritual doors. Because of my early experiences abroad, I studied sociology, gender studies, and global education in undergrad and entrepreneurship in graduate school, and I built careers in international education and global impact investing.
 
I went on to: study abroad in Chile and Argentina, travel all over South and Central America, work in Costa Rica and Peru and South Africa, make a film in Liberia and another in the West Bank, live and teach in Jordan, teach for a wilderness boarding school in the Rocky Mountains and a traveling school in southern Africa, and direct programs for the Smithsonian Institute in Thailand. I: became fluent in Spanish and conversational in Arabic, trekked to the highest navigable pass in the world in Nepal, white-water rafted down the Zambezi River in Zambia, rock climbed and caved in Thailand, abseiled in South Africa, and defied the limitations doctors had previously set for me by completing my Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diving Certification in the Philippines.
 
To date, I’ve studied, worked, lived, and traveled to 42 countries. All because, during my first travel experience, I learned that I could.
 

To date, I’ve studied, worked, lived, and traveled to 42 countries. All because, during my first travel experience, I learned that I could.

 

The idea for Type 1 Way Ticket was initially born in 2016 out of a conversation with a colleague who thought she and her boyfriend couldn’t travel at all due to a presumed lack of diabetes-friendly food options abroad. A few years later, I was compelled to create an eponymous diabetes travel-focused Instagram account after meeting a mom and her middle school daughter who had never had a sleepover due to concerns about managing diabetes away from home. In both of these moments, I felt an urgency to showcase the boundless possibilities of life with diabetes.

By 2019, I had worked with hundreds of middle, high school, and college students on summer and gap year travel programs and study abroad semesters. Not a single one of my students was diabetic, and I had a hunch I knew why. My initial urgency to showcase soon morphed into an even greater urgency to create opportunities for T1Ds to learn exactly how unstoppable they are, and thus, Type 1 Way Ticket was born in Spring 2022. 
 

My initial urgency to showcase soon morphed into an even greater urgency to create opportunities for T1Ds to LEARN EXACTLY how unstoppable they are...

 

My journey of going from novice to experienced to professional traveler has encompassed myriad health insurance debates, pump mishaps, and insulin scares, just as yours will. But unlike mine, with the support of Type 1 Way Ticket, yours will have a smaller learning curve and less trial and error. And like mine, yours will encompass phenomenal growth, self-discovery, and some of the most beautiful people and places in the world, all of which will make any challenges more than worth it.

I am who I am because a travel company said yes to me, igniting a domino effect of turning devastating no’s into transformative yes’s. And I do what I do to say yes to you and show you the world is your oyster.  

Type 1 Way Ticket surrounds you with the community, resources, and experiences to empower you to live life to the fullest. We embrace the curveballs and factor diabetes into each day so that you can grow as an independent traveler who just so happens to have a faulty pancreas and a whole community of new friends and program leaders to lean on.

I know first-hand how nerve-wracking it can be to have doctors and loved ones caution you from doing things like hiking trips in remote areas, living at high altitude or without access to refrigerators, SCUBA diving, or traveling entirely. Type 1 Way Ticket offers you the optimism and the opportunity to bring T1D abroad in the company of people who fully get it and prove to yourself that, with the right amount of preparation and grit, you can truly do anything, anywhere–with diabetes.

with the right amount of preparation and grit, you can truly do anything, anywhere–with diabetes.

 

On behalf of the T1WT team, we can’t wait to travel with you,

Savannah Johnson

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