A law degree can open a door to so many opportunities. For University of Mississippi School of Law alumnus Oliver Diaz, a storied career has led to him telling his own stories of travel.
Diaz earned his degree from UM Law in 1985. Additionally, he earned his LL.M. from the University of Virginia. He practiced law on the Gulf Coast while representing Biloxi and D’Iberville in the Mississippi House of Representatives for seven years. After serving as city attorney for D’Iberville, Diaz was elected to the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 1994. He was then appointed to the Supreme Court in 2000 and elected in 2001. In 2008, he returned to private practice.
With children grown and out of the house, Diaz and his wife, Jennifer, toyed around with the idea of traveling the world.
“We’d always talked about traveling places and doing something like that but never had the time while I was working,” Diaz said.
As a lawyer and retired judge, he was often asked to speak in different locations around the United States. However, Diaz had never really spent much time traveling outside of the country.
“It’s hard to take time away from clients,” he said.
After one family friend was diagnosed with cancer and another suffered a heart attack, the Diazes realized if they wanted to experience the world, the time was now.
But the Diazes aren’t just taking week-long trips to Europe. They are exploring every corner of the world, about eight months at a time.
He loved practicing law, and leaving that behind at first was tough.
“I decided to take a sabbatical and thought if travel didn’t work out, I could always return to my practice,” he said.
Last year, the Diazes explored eight countries in South America. They flew from New Orleans to Colombia and began the journey.
When they travel, the itinerary is flexible. They don’t want to have too much set in stone. The Diazes are also not booking luxury resorts. When traveling, they want to see and experience the culture, so they stay at local hotels and hostels to meet the locals and other travelers. They also book travel arrangements during off-peak times, so locations are less crowded.
“Traveling most of the year is cheaper than living at home,” he said. “The most expensive part of travel is getting there.”
Colombia became one of their favorite locations. The initial plan was to stay about a week. They fell in love with Colombia, and stayed for seven weeks.
During their time in South America, they visited the Galapagos Islands, hiked in the mountains of Argentina, visited Chile’s southernmost city, saw the Antarctic Circle and so much more.
“We’ve done some pretty cool things,” he said.
Diaz, whose hobby is photography, documents all of his travels on their blog, “Ol Around the World.”
“I get to practice my photography skills, and the blog has a pretty decent following now,” Diaz said.
The Diazes love the outdoors, so they’ll often spend a few weeks hiking through the mountains and exploring the natural landscape. They usually also spend a week or so in the major nearby city.
“The best part of this has been meeting the people,” he said. “We met one man who was very fluent in English and asked him for tips on what to do, and he ended up driving us around with his family for a week. We went on his family vacation with him.”
Not knowing what their day is going to hold is something the Diazes look forward to.
“I don’t know what city I’m going to be in when I wake up the next day, and that’s exciting,” he said.
This year, Diaz and his wife are traveling through the Middle East and Africa. They’ve already visited Jordan, seen the pyramids in Egypt and gone diving with Great White sharks in Cape Town.
To keep up with all their adventures, visit https://www.olaroundtheworld.com.