It’s said that there’s no such thing as an original idea anymore. Perhaps that’s true. I certainly found this out first hand the other day while doing a random search on the Internet. I was looking for information on the quality of healthcare in Mexico, mostly so I could throw statistics about the superiority of non-US healthcare systems to some of our well-intentioned nay-sayers who might try to talk us out of our crazy plan. Suddenly I happened on a site with a free downloadable ebook about a middle-aged couple who sold their house, piled everything (including their dogs) into a cargo van and took off to travel around Mexico, documenting their adventures into a travel journal/advice column/book along the way. The main difference between us, it seemed, is that there is no way I’d bring along 18 pairs of shoes. Really? 18 pairs?
The whole thing sounded uncomfortably familiar, even down to opting to avoid the main California/ Mexico border on the coast due to a healthy distaste for traffic congestion.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” My hackles rose and the three-year-old inner self wailed, “These guys stole our idea!”
Okay, calm down, I told myself. It’s not an original idea by any means. Who doesn’t dream once in a while of leaving the US rat race in search of a quieter, more peaceful life in some exotic place? And with the internet providing such a great platform, of course there’s going to be other expats who want to write a book about their experiences and share their adventures with the world. The chances of coming up with an idea like this being a unique to only my Darling and me was pretty well beyond the realm of conceivable. I just needed to set my ego aside and see this as a learning opportunity. Of course someone’s done this before, I reminded myself, and we’ll be far from the last people to take this journey.
I downloaded the ebook and began to read it, secretly hoping to find all kinds of things to criticize. Instead, I realized that this account provided me with a wellspring of great information. There were suggestions of lovely little towns to stay in, advice about traveling with dogs on a ferry crossing the Sea of Cortez, names of pet-friendly hotels/restaurants and even a couple of vet recommendations. I learned about where the good and bad roads lay and how most of the fears we Americans have towards driving in Mexico are unfounded (which was what I was hoping to find to be the truth). There were detailed accounts of how much things cost and descriptions of various towns that helped us distill our destination choices. I’ll admit, I was still a bit envious that these folks were already living my dream, but at the same time, they provided a nice blueprint to use as we planned our adventure. Because of this particular set of trailblazers, our trip would be even better. After reading their account, I was determined to look for others.
It’s said that the most successful business models aren’t the first ones who come up with the idea, but the ones who come second. They’re able to utilize all of the successes while not having to experience the trials and tribulations of R&D. It’s less costly and time-consuming to piggyback on other experiences, which means more attention can be put towards improving the quality. Sure it’s fun to be the first one to come up with an idea, but sometimes being second can turn out to be even better. We’ll see what happens, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic that this wandering couple has given us a boost and helped us out. Maybe someday we’ll run into them in some little cantina and buy them a beer to show our gratitude. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to pay the favor forward by paving the way a little more for those who follow us.