Passport to Freedom: Interview with James Finklea, Childfree World Traveler

In a bustling city where dreams are born and ambitions take flight, James Finklea found himself standing at the crossroads of possibility. Born and raised in the Metro New York City area, James embarked on a journey that would take him to the far corners of the globe, eventually reaching 130 countries by the tender age of 42. His story is not just one of passport stamps and adventure—it’s a testament to the empowerment of choosing a childfree life.

The Odyssey Begins

James’ odyssey commenced in 2004, leading him from the bustling streets of Manhattan to the enchanting landscapes of 130 countries. With an international MBA earned in Sweden and a career that took him from Europe to India, he discovered a passion for immersing himself in diverse cultures. 

As James navigated through Europe, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, his love for travel grew exponentially. 

Whether exploring the historical treasures of Moscow or hiking near the highest waterfall in the world, Kaieteur Falls in the Amazon, he found that every journey pushed him out of his comfort zone. “It forced me to open up, to open my eyes and my mind,” he reflects.

Mapping a Life Less Ordinary

Despite not initially setting out to visit every country, James found himself contemplating the possibility. “It just started to form that way, and as I started climbing in numbers, it kind of hit me – maybe I can get to 75 countries or maybe I can get to 100. Well, I’ve kind of leaped beyond that,” he explains. However, as he approaches countries with geopolitical challenges, James acknowledges the evolving nature of the world and the need for careful consideration.

Intriguingly, James seamlessly integrates his passion for exploration with his childfree lifestyle. “I answer to no one when it comes to my life decisions.” 

James’ decision to remain childfree is rooted in the challenging experiences he faced during his formative years. As a teenager navigating high school, he encountered discouragement from teachers and mentors – people who should have been encouraging him. 

Despite being a decent student, James was explicitly told that he wasn’t worth the effort and wouldn’t succeed academically. He was constantly shunned by those who were supposed to have his best interests in mind to help nurture his development. This harsh treatment left a lasting scar, even though James defied the odds, excelling in college, graduate school, and the workforce. His success, while a testament to his resilience, didn’t erase the haunting memories of being dismissed and underestimated. 

For James, the ethical and conscientious choice became clear – he didn’t want to subject a potential child to the same adversity he faced. His decision to be childfree stems from a desire to spare future generations from the challenges he overcame and to foster an environment free from the judgment and doubt he experienced.

Now a Deputy Treasurer of a Japanese insurance firm, James has not only crafted a career but also a lifestyle that resonates with his innermost desires. He believes that the choices childfree individuals make are just as valid as any other life decision. 

“If you choose not to have children and you’re comfortable with that, that’s a good thing. It’s your life,” he passionately asserts. “If you’re confident in your choices, then you are doing just fine.” 

Tips for Aspiring Travelers

For those inspired by James’ globetrotting lifestyle, he shares practical advice:

  • Ask yourself if you have the time and money
  • Research extensively
  • Make the most of off-peak travel periods

Whether exploring the beauty of the United States or venturing into international territories, James encourages others to turn their travel dreams into reality.

Need a bit more inspiration? Here’s a list of all the places James traveled to in 2023:

1. January and February: Northern New England – James took a couple of long weekends to ski and explore the scenic landscapes of northern New England.

2. March: Philippines – James took a trip around the world starting from New York to Singapore, then on to Manila in the Philippines. The journey continued through Austria, Germany, and back to New York.

3. April: San Antonio, Texas – James and his girlfriend visited San Antonio for a medical conference, discovering a good portion of the Lone Star State.

4. Juneteenth Long Weekend: Mexico City – The couple flew down to Mexico City for a weekend exploration.

5. August: Tanglewood, Berkshires, Massachusetts – Surprising his girlfriend, James drove to Tanglewood in the Berkshires, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to watch John Williams conduct some of his most iconic film music. 

6. September: Safari in Kenya and Tanzania – A 12-day safari adventure between Kenya and Tanzania, with a stopover in Doha, Qatar, on the way back. Amazing!

7. October: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – James and his girlfriend visited Ottawa, Ontario, as one of her sisters had recently immigrated from the Philippines to Canada for nursing.

8. Veterans Weekend: Guyana and Suriname, South America – A visit to Guyana and Suriname in South America during Veterans Weekend.

9. Thanksgiving Weekend: London – James and his girlfriend celebrated Thanksgiving in London, exploring the city during the holiday weekend.

James’ story isn’t just about the number of countries he has visited; it’s a celebration of embracing life on one’s terms. As he jets off to London for Thanksgiving and plans future trips with his girlfriend, he stands as a testament to the fulfilling, childfree life that can be lived with passion, purpose, and a suitcase always ready for the next adventure. 

“There is a world out there for those of us who do not want kids.” James is a  great example of someone who chose a different path, embracing the idea that life’s fulfillment doesn’t hinge on parenthood. 

Stay up to date with James through his Facebook page.

Want to read about other childfree travelers? Check out Marika and Hillary’s adventures. 


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