Okay, I know the timing of this post is a little sensitive since no one can really do any traveling right now, but it also kind of makes my point hit harder in some ways…. sorry, getting there. Stay with me guys.
I was blessed with a childhood full of family vacations. I mean, we’ve been to so many different places in Florida you’d think my mom got cash back for every time we visited a new part of that state (and extra $$ for all the times we chose Orlando because that seemed to be the mothership of all Florida tourists). The thing is, while I look back on my childhood very fondly, I wish I knew what the world was like outside of New England or the sunshine state. You could definitely say I lived in a bubble; you could even say I sometimes still do. And I think a contributing factor to that is because, as I got older, I did not say yes to the opportunities I was given to see the world and experience new cultures. Nor did I fight to create those opportunities for myself even if they weren’t right in front of me.
My one claim to fame is a group trip to Costa Rica during my senior year of high school. That should have been the start of me experiencing the world. Well, it was an incredible trip and I did genuinely learn some of their ways of life, but that is pretty much the only international travel I have to show for myself—besides a cruise to Mexico and a trip to Niagara Falls in Canada. Oh, and my mom will want me to mention Jamaica…when I was 3.
You see, my brother and I chose different paths after college. I got my degree and went straight to full-time work, and he got his degree and traveled the world. The places he has seen I have only experienced in his pictures, and I find myself jealous of that almost every day. Granted I did get to travel for my job for a few years, but it was nationally, and while I do feel blessed to have seen a lot of the states, I wonder if I would have done that if I wasn’t paid to?
I ask myself this because during college I was given the opportunity to study abroad-—much like everyone else—but my school had its own campus in Rome, Italy, so the pathway would have been especially easy for me. But I never went. I made excuses for myself like “oh, the course requirements didn’t fit my schedule” (blah blah blah), but the truth is, I was just scared. No other reason than being completely terrified to live in Europe by myself for an entire semester…and having to admit to everyone that my three semesters of Italian did absolutely nothing for me (much like my four years of Spanish in high school). So I talked myself out it. I never studied abroad, I never did any mission trips, I never stepped out of my comfort zone for longer than a minute. I just played everything safe. And I regret it every day.
I guess what I am trying to say through all of this is don’t be scared like me. First, if you have the means to and the opportunity is front of you, say yes. Every single time. Secondly, even if the opportunity doesn’t land on your head, create one! Plan a trip on a whim, and on a budget if needed, just because you can. Go to countries and continents you’ve never been where you feel out of place or uncomfortable, because that means you’re learning new things about a way of life that is unfamiliar to yours. And it’s those experiences that challenge your growth as a human being.
Right now in this moment, none of us can really travel. But not being able to should only support my point further that we should jump at every chance to do it because we don’t know when that will be taken from us. So if anything stays with you from this pandemic, let it be that. Let it be the notion that we need to seize every moment we can to live our lives to the fullest. Then, after you’ve let the newfound spontaneity and adventure take over your body, book that plane ticket you’ve been telling yourself you would since 1933 (it’s hyperbole, just go with it). Hell, I am even taking my own advice! Germany and Switzerland, I’m coming for ya Fall 2021. Get ready. 😎