When Todd Julian Has Grown a Beard …
… you know he’s been on another adventure
Published in 2018 Southwest Super Lawyers magazine on April 23, 2018
Whenever I travel, I try to combine some aspect of history, culture and adventure.
There was a time when I would do anything; I didn’t have a family—a wife or kids, anyway. When I ran with the bulls, a guy was killed the year before. In Nepal, 18 were killed in an avalanche on the same day I was hiking out in the snow. I was in Egypt just six months after the Arab Spring.
I was pretty lucky to be able to travel with my family in high school. I spent a summer in Spain, and that really introduced me to exploring new cultures and taking greater risks.
In college, my dad died, and my mom became a travel agent. Over Christmas break we would travel someplace warm—like Rio or the Cayman Islands. When I graduated law school, I had to take the bar exam. So I went through Europe for a month, and then I got my results.
I started work as an associate at my firm, and for a while I thought, “I don’t have the money to travel, and I can’t take time off of work because I’m trying to impress the bosses.” Then I got tempted by one of my fraternity brothers; he was going to run with the bulls in Pamplona in 1996, and I said, “Sign me up.” When I got back to work, people were still doing their jobs and didn’t realize I was gone.
When I realized that I could take more than five days off in a row without getting fired—they often don’t realize I’ve been gone until I show up at a partners meeting with a beard—the next trip I took was to Zimbabwe for a photo safari. It was a camping trip, and I spent three days canoeing on the Zambezi River, seeing hippos and crocodiles. There were people at work who asked me how I could afford to go to Africa for three weeks, and I said, “It’s costing me less to go to Africa than for you to take your kids to San Diego for a week.”
The next big one I bit off was Nepal in 1999. I spent a month trekking in the Khumbu region, which is basically the trail that goes to Mount Everest’s base camp. I didn’t go all the way up, but I scaled a couple of 18,000-foot peaks. Nepal is one of the most enriching countries I’ve ever visited: The natural beauty is stunning, and the people are so genuine and kind and spiritual.
In 2006, I went to Bali and, from there, to Borneo. I arranged to have a guide take me in a motorized canoe 200 miles upriver to the Dayak villages. They’re the old tribal ancestors, and a generation ago they were headhunters. It was just me and this other guy, and it took us three days. I’m reminded a lot of Apocalypse Now: We went deeper and deeper into the jungle. It was really bizarre to be the only white person there, and to think that a generation ago my head might have been on a stick.
My bucket list is about the size of a swimming pool. I have a bunch of different places I still want to go. I got married recently, so I’ve dialed it back a bit. I’m coming full circle to do the other things with the family. It’s a new adventure.