Globetrotting Villager Robert Paluszak crisscrosses the earth on planes, trains, automobiles–ferries, buses, elephants, and camels too
Story: Theresa Campbel
Robert Paluszak is well qualified to serve as a steering committee member and contact person of the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club in The Villages, and he delights in sharing his love for traveling with 500 Villages neighbors on the group’s mailing list.
Along with his wife Marilyn, the couple redesigned the club’s website WWFTC.com, filling it with valuable travel tips, maps, resources, and their favorite Maya Angelou quote: “Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the places that take your breath away.”
The Paluszaks’ most memorable breathtaking journey was in 2005-’06.
“We actually traveled 400 days around the world,” Robert recalls. “We went across the Pacific by freighter, and we used some ferries, trains, busses, private car rentals, and we also used elephants and camels.”
They slept in 155 different beds around the globe.
“When you’re traveling for that long, you need to stop and rest occasionally. You can’t be like on a seven-day vacation and do that same level of activity for 400 days,” says Robert. “Back in 2005, Airbnb didn’t exist, so we used vacation rentals and we would rent a place for two or four weeks just so that we could stay someplace and rest for a little bit before we continued moving on.”
His wife also wanted to experience the daily life and culture of the different lands.
“I had a very determined effort to see what it felt like to live in a place than just drive through it,” adds Marilyn. “We’d go to the grocery store to buy groceries, make our meals, and do the things that people lived there do, so it was fun.”
One of the things they planned during the 400 days is where they wanted to be around Christmas and New Year’s.
“We rented an apartment just outside of Sydney, Australia and one of our goals was to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Sydney Harbor,” says Robert. “By noon we had found our location, found a spot and stayed there 12 hours before midnight to watch the fireworks with two million people.”
Also, in planning for their worldwide journey, the couple bought a two-seater convertible in the U.S., which they picked up in Germany to drive around their five months there. The car is now in their garage in The Villages, where they have lived for 13 years after moving from Albany, New York.
They got involved in WWFTC when the group was started in 2008 by Charlie and Diane Jacobson, whom the Paluszaks traveled with to Cuba in 2013.
Last year’s coronavirus pandemic put worldwide traveling on hold for many WWFTC members.
“Some had booked cruises that have to be rescheduled, and lot of people have their bucket list of things they want to do when they can travel safely,” says Robert. “We all expect it to happen someday.”
The Paulszaks want to travel to Central and South America countries and also return to Europe.
Since the early part of the pandemic, the travel club has met online, via Zoom, as a way for members to stay engaged. Robert says about 50 members joined in for the online meetings, while the previous in-person gatherings used to draw up to 120 people. He’s eager for those days to return.
Robert also serves as president of two investment clubs in The Villages: The Growth Stock Pickers, and the Investment Education Club.
“I like keeping busy and there is plenty to keep busy here,” he says of the joys of living in The Villages. Robert received his MBA degree from SUNY Albany and worked 10 years in the financial industry as a financial advisor for Mutual of New York. He previously earned his bachelor’s in computer science and worked in information technology and information security for over 20 years. Robert used his IT skills on the travel club’s website.
One of the group’s goals is to encourage Villagers to explore different cultures and countries. The group also strives to provide a forum for members to share information, pictures, and memorabilia from various travel experiences.
“We have had presentations by people who go on tour packages,” says Robert says. “Every once in a while, I’d listen to a presentation and think wow, I’m really glad you went because now I don’t have to.”
During one online meeting program, Robert and Marilyn shared their experience of a freighter voyage across the Pacific, and presented another program about Belgium.
He’s pleased the club’s website WWFTC.com provides several travel links, and is a place where members can exchange unbiased, noncommercial information about their personal travel experiences.