From a very young age I dreamed of traveling the world. I dreamed of experiencing the magic of Disney World, standing on top of a snow covered mountain in Colorado, seeing Broadway and one day flying to Paris (the ultimate dream trip). I buried myself in books about far-off places, took French classes to prepare myself for a new language, worked my ass off in school because in my mind the formula to travel looked something like this: good grades + scholarships + college + good job = $$$ to travel. (BTW, teachers do not make good money, but I learned quickly that saving to travel is WAY easier than you think. That’s a post for another time!)
My first step to travel was taking a college internship at Disney World. I couldn’t afford to visit, but working there meant I could LIVE there and play there for FREE. I visited home during my semester in Florida, and at 20 years old, it was my first time to ever fly on an airplane. For the first time ever, I lived with people with whom I had nothing common. I worked with people from all over the world. There was food, customs, languages, celebrations and lifestyles I had never heard of, yet I got to experience them. I learned a lot. Most importantly, I learned that I not only desired to travel, but I needed to travel. That small taste of culture and newness was just the beginning of a life-long journey.
11 years later, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit much of the United States and 23 countries. After all these amazing adventures, my desire to travel and see the world has only gotten stronger. More than that though, is my passion to encourage others to travel. Whether you are on the fence about starting a new adventure, itching to book that first trip or never even considered it…this is for you! This is me saying, DO IT!
This is w hat happens when you travel…
-You will quickly realize that the stories and memories you make are immensely better than the stuff you buy. Save your money. Book the trip. Trust me.
-It will broaden your horizons in ways you never imagined. Just be prepared to have thousands of windows opened to views you’ve never had before. Visit a mosque, a monastery, thousands of year old cathedrals, synagogues and learn how others worship. Explore museums and grow an appreciation for various forms of art. Eat food in a traditional/non-touristy restaurant and learn new customs. Stay with a local family and learn to respect families that are so different, but also so similar. Meet people and realize that we’re all just people. People trying to live a happy life, the best we know how.
-Be prepared to really care more about international affairs. Here’s the thing, I’ve always said I cared about international affairs. That’s the right thing to say, but you really care once you’ve visited a certain place and learned to love or at least appreciate it. It’s kind of like the Baader-Meinhof effect. You know how when someone you know buys a new car, like a Tesla, and you think “Wow! I’ve never heard of, or seen a Tesla before!” Then, before you know it, you spot Tesla’s on the highway, in the grocery store parking lot and they can’t seem to stop talking about them and Elon Musk on the news? That’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, and that’s what happens when you visit new places.
-Watch your compassion grow and grow. Imagine visiting a country, town or state and falling in love with it. Loving the people, the food, the music, the atmosphere, everything! Then, something horrible happens…there’s a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or war breaks out. The compassion you grew while visiting that place will motivate you to do whatever you can to help those people and their home be put back together.
-You will become tolerant of those who are nothing like you. You may disagree with their beliefs, lifestyle of political stance, but you also know that deep down they are (mostly) good people, doing their best to love and be loved, just like you.
-You’ll make new friends. This one can be challenging, but if you stay in hostels, couchsurf, visit local hangouts and talk to people, you’re likely to find some fellow travelers that you mesh with. In the very least, you’ll get some great traveling tips.
-You will overcome fears. Traveling can be scary, and whether you’re scared of flying, being in a new place, getting lost, meeting new people, making plans, riding in a taxi, packing enough or whatever…traveling will help you conquer those fears.
-You’ll learn to read a map. Unless, you’re my Husband.
– You will learn (or be forced) to make the best of all situations. It will start raining as soon as you start hiking. You will order coffee with a side of cheese, instead of cream. You will sadly realize that Spider Man the Musical is the worst possible choice for a Broadway show, but that’s okay. Make the best of it! Dance in the rain, enjoy a cheesy snack and order some Marvel themed cocktails! You can make anything fun, right!?
-You will truly want to carpe diem (seize the day). Your adventure will fly by and you’ll come home wondering how you managed to squeeze so much adventure into such a short time. It will remind you that time is fleeting and you truly must take the opportunity for adventure whenever it comes around.
-You will learn to accept that plans will go awry. Trust me. The weather will unexpectedly change. You’ll miss a train, schedule something for the wrong day, show up to the museum the one day of the week that it’s closed, get lost, run out of snacks or take a train 6 hours in the wrong direction….(I’m looking at you, Zoey.) It will suck, but the trip will go on and you’ll learn to roll with the punches.
-You may even pick up on other languages and customs, especially if you are trying to learn them.
So, friends, I challenge you. Once a year, I challenge you to travel somewhere new. Anywhere new. Maybe you try that new Thai restaurant, visit the closest big city, drive out of state, take a new challenging hike, or fly overseas. Make a list. Start planning now and just do it.
I guarantee you will not regret it.
So, where are you going next?