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Lessons learned from a lifetime of travel

Climbing in Chaing Mai, Thailand

Ashley Skoch climbing in Chaing Mai, Thailand.

Lessons learned from a lifetime of travel

By Ashley Skoch

Travel has always been important to me. So in 2017, I quit my job to travel the world. I spent most of that year exploring Colombia, but also ended up in Thailand, Canada and Mexico. 

Much of my time was spent working on organic farms, rock climbing and eating street treats. I tried scuba diving, deep water soloing and surfing. I helped build an adobe house in the Andes and rode horses through a valley with the tallest palm trees in the world. I even met the Queen mother of Thailand at a flower festival! 

While most of my adventures were fun and carefree, there was usually some element of risk. I definitely took (at least) one questionable taxi and was almost hit by a car while driving a scooter in Chiang Mai (this may have also happened more than once). I took a pretty nasty climbing fall in Squamish that summer. I was in Bogota during major protests and bombings. And later that fall, I was in a pretty devastating earthquake in Mexico City. 

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from my most adventurous year yet, it’s to expect the unexpected. So upon my return, at 31 years old, I created my first legal will. It gives me a peace of mind to know that if something unexpected does happen in my adventures to come, I’m prepared for it and my wishes will be honored. 

When friends my age have asked about why I have a will, they sometimes point to the fact that we don’t have much to designate at this point in our lives. But for me, it’s important to maintain autonomy, even over my more modest assets like my life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and savings accounts. Plus, I know that many of my assets will grow over time. 

When someone dies without a will, assets go into a legal process called probate and the distribution of assets are decided by laws, not personal wishes. Recipients include immediate family members like parents, siblings, and a legal spouse. But you need a will if you want to leave anything to friends, a partner who you are not legally married to, or to a charity. Having a will, it feels good to know that I’ll be able to leave specific gifts to a few very dear friends and my partner. I’ll also be able to continue supporting my passions by leaving a gift to the causes that matter most to me, including Citizens’ Climate Lobby. 

So here’s to future adventures (once the pandemic is over, of course), loved ones, and the planet! 

August is national Make a Will Month, so we’re taking this time to share a sampling of the stories of our Legacy Club Donors. These are volunteers and staff who’ve made a will and decided to include a bequest designation to CCL/CCE in their estate plan. If you’re a Legacy Club Donor and would like to share your story with us, please email development @ If you don’t yet have a will, you can use our trusted partner, FreeWill to make a will today! It takes less than 20 minutes, is legally valid, and there’s no obligation to make any specific bequest designation. 

Ashley Skoch is CCL’s Associate Development Director.