When I was 29: never pass up travel

Girl in the leavesWhen I was 29, it was a very bad year.  The previous September, our sense of security had been violently shattered, and many of us were not taking it well.  It really put life into a completely new perspective.  I’ve always had some level of wanderlust, and, up until that point, I had not wandered nearly as much as I would’ve liked.  I had also never worked at a job that truly challenged me, and, as a result, I would get bored very quickly.  The job I had at that time, although well-paying and with good benefits, was very mind-numbing and required little brainpower.  The recent turmoil in the world also caused me to rethink the relationship I was in at the time… we didn’t seem to have similar goals for the future.

What I needed was some fresh air.  I needed to get away from all the stress and responsibilities.  I needed to do something before I turned 30 and missed out on yet more of life’s opportunities.  I needed to leave the country!  And so I did.  I scraped together every dime I could and decided to go to Europe until I ran out of money.  That happened to be at around two and a half months.  I took a backpack and a sense of adventure, and I made up my itinerary as I went along.  I met some of the coolest people, most of whom I am still friends with to this day.  I saw the most amazing things, and it changed my entire perspective on the world and my place in it.

The trip wasn’t all chocolate and roses, though.  I was quite an emotional wreck for a good part of it.  I was feeling lost and unsure of my ability to make good choices.  I made some pretty bad ones on the trip!  But I grew as a result, and for that I am glad.

I have been fortunate to visit Europe several times since then, and each time it is a love affair all over again.  This year is the 10-year anniversary of that first trip, and now at 39, I am again contemplating life and my place in it.  I decided to again scrape together money to go – this time for 3 weeks.  A friend once asked me how I managed to travel so much… “Did you win the lottery?” he asked.  Different people have different priorities in life, and one of mine is traveling.  I save up airline points from my debit card and rarely pay for a ticket.  I stay with friends as much as possible and often travel with a partner on business, so the lodging is paid for by his company.  On this trip, I will only pay a few hundred for flights, stay with friends in London for the first week, and most of the other lodging will be taken care of as well.

I feel so fortunate to be able to travel and to enjoy traveling because it is an education unto itself.  On this trip, I plan to visit three of the lovely individuals who I met a decade ago.  They were all so hospitable… I mean REALLY hospitable.  And I was a total stranger to each of them.  That is one of the reasons my trip is so dear to me – the humanity of it.

I hope that you are able to prioritize some travel into your life.  Never pass up travel and never pass up the opportunity to befriend people from other countries!  They want to stay with you as much as you want to stay with them.  Stay in a hostel, do a home exchange… there are cheap ways to travel if you really want to.

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