So since we are all getting to know each other here, I’ll give you some background to why I am so attracted to different cultures, experiences and putting myself through stressful situations.
You see, sometimes when I’m sitting in the airport having a mental breakdown because I’ve been stranded for three days I wonder why in the hell I put myself through this kind of stress. I will say “I never want to smell the inside of an airport again” or “I hate flying” but once the travel stress goes away and I’m back home for a while I’ll start thinking about how much I miss the view of the clouds.
I blame my family for my adventurous soul. Never once was I told growing up that I couldn’t be something or do something. I was never pressured to be someone, if I wanted to be a beauty queen they would let me attempt to be a beauty queen (yes that was a phase). If I wanted to be an athlete they would let me join three different sports. If I wanted to be an actress they would be the first to encourage me to audition. I always had the travel and adventure spirit growing up. I use to go exploring in the woods behind my house or cry because instead of getting ready for my dance recital I wanted to go outside and catch frogs. I had always thought about where I wanted to go and how I would get there. Needless to say I first blew their minds with my travel aspirations when I was 17.
“Mom? Dad? I want to go to Australia.”
And I meant really go. Fly to the other side of the world alone to meet up with a friends family and live with them for a month. The friend was foreign exchange at my high school and we became best friends, she then invited me to come see her and of course I was like YES. But where is a 17 year old with no job going afford a plane ticket to Australia? Well long story short I had to skip out on going until the year after. I spent 99% of my graduation money to fund the trip of my dreams along with working a job I absolutely hated. Well, finally that December I was leaving the cold snow-infested lands of Michigan for the hot summer sun down under!
I had flown numerous times growing up with my family and could do airports no problem. However I had never once flew internationally or by myself. It also didn’t help that my plane was cancelled and I left a day late with a completely new route to Melbourne.
One thing I was totally unprepared for was jet lag. 16 hours. 16 hours stuck in a metal tube and watching the movie “Contagion”. And for anyone who has seen that movie you know that it is the absolute WORST movie to watch on a plane.
Well 24 hours of travel later and probably extremely smelly I was in a whole new world, surrounded by hot accents and Huntsmen Spiders (oh lawd). I got to see wild kangaroos and penguins, play with some dingos, eat ice cream at the Sydney Opera House and live like the locals in Melbourne.
Another long story short, the trip was f-bomb awesome and I would love to live in Australia for more than a month.
So that was my first big adventure not with my parents or family. A girl from middle of nowhere Michigan learning to surf on Bells Beach the winter after graduation. I honestly still can’t believe that happened.
However long before my Australia travels I was on the road with my family. By the time I graduated high school I had ventured to twenty-some states and was rarely at home on weekends. Some of it counted from my competitive gymnastics where meets were as far away as Des Moines in 2004 and New Orleans in 2005. Others were just family road trips to Colorado or weekends spent Up North in Traverse City. I was always drawn to mountains from the day I sat on Jackson Lake in Wyoming completely in awe of how beautiful nature could be. Okay, I was 8, but still that was the moment I really realized that mountains weren’t just pictures in a calendar that I would only see on TV.
Even though I grew up traveling, I know that it’s something that is just in my soul. For others who have the same feeling, you’ll know what I mean. I can’t help but constantly wonder what else is out there. I want to see it all, I want to experience it. I want to learn the cultures and live in them. I’m pretty sure everyone I know gets annoyed about how much I talk about traveling. Places I want to go, places I’ve just discovered. And then I always get so confused when they aren’t interested and I just want to scream “DON’T YOU WANT TO EXPLORE?!”. I sometimes forget that not everyone wants to become a nomad or likes to be outside their comfort zone.
I think people who love traveling are born with it. Just like if someone is born to play football. It’s our destiny. Our families might think we’re crazy and not understand. They might say “Well good luck in the real world because you can’t always travel” and I just say “watch me because I’ll find a way”.
I mean people go through life with the expectations to go to school, get a job, have a family, build their retirement and then die. I’m more of a go to school and skydive on weekends while researching a place to ice climb next month and not get a job after college because I’d rather spend my entire savings traveling the world and experiencing what’s out there and then maybe later in life get married, have children and die happy.
But I get it, that’s not for everyone.
Since my first big travel I’ve had numerous other adventures. If you would have told the 16 year old me that by the time I was 20 I would have been to Australia, climbed a mountain, stood in Times Square on New Years and be doing what I am now I probably would have either not believed you or farted from excitement.
I’ve done about 2% of the amount of traveling I want to do in my life, which means I still have a long ways to go. But when I travel I want to be sure it’s about learning not about seeing. I don’t want to go to Paris to jump on and off a tour bus. I want to walk through the side streets of Paris and learn about the locals, I want to live like the locals and get a feel for the true Paris, not the tourist Paris.
It’s not about how much you see but how you see it.
That’s the main difference between a traveler and a tourist. The tourist want to see the landmarks and stay in hotels. The traveler wants to live the life of the culture without necessarily living there.
Well, now that the travel bug is in me and in full swing, I don’t plan on settling into life anytime soon. I’m not the one who has their future planned out. Let’s be honest I don’t even have tomorrow planned out. I’m young, this is supposed to be the time in my life where I explore instead of wonder. I don’t want to wait until I’m retired, I want to learn now. We live in such a closed off world, especially in America. We have no idea what the rest of the world is like besides all of the negative crap we hear on the news. The world is not a bad place, and I’m on a mission to prove it.