I don’t like to have regrets, (who does?) but whenever conversation lends itself to dispensing the following information I do so in a vehement fashion.
When in doubt – travel.
During my junior year of college I made the decision to skip out on a semester abroad in favor of staying close to my then-boyfriend. Big fat yawn, right?
That’s how I feel about it now. I’m sure I had some good times with said guy and my friends that semester… still I can’t recall them clearly the way I feel I’d be able to remember time spent in London (and gallivanting to other European countries on weekends as I’ve learned students abroad do).
I’ll tell any college student who will listen not to make the same mistake I did! The opportunity to study in a foreign country is irreplaceable. The chance to immerse yourself in a different culture and gain life-enhancing skills shouldn’t be underestimated. People spew a lot of advice to those younger then them. Some helpful and some not so much. But the whole travel when you’re young and free thing is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.
At that time in my life I was admittedly short sighted. I could only see what was right in front of me. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Fortunately, post college I had other opportunities to explore. I took them and my wanderlust quickly developed.
I realized I didn’t want to live in my bubble. I wanted to experience other cultures. I wanted to open my mind. Essentially I wanted to lay my eyes on new-to-me things, people and places. I started to make traveling a major priority.
At this point I’ve been fortunate to visit 20+ countries because I made it a part of my lifestyle. Luckily, I married a man who feels the same. Though our travel styles differ, I tend to attempt living like a local. He’s more into making sure we check off the must-sees. (We balance each other out).
There’s something to be said for when you start going out of your comfort zone and it doesn’t have to mean international or pricey travel, either. Road tripping to a new city and just exploring can be very eye-opening and broaden your perspective, especially during these times where we live in such a strongly divided country.
If forced to narrow it down I would say the top two reasons I love to travel are perspective and escapism.
When we’re immersed in our daily lives without any change, it can all become a little tedious. Work, family, socializing when we can, chores, paying bills… rinse, and repeat…
There’s the risk of feeling like that’s all there is. When I travel it’s like pressing the reset button. Shaking up my day-to-day allows a shift in perspective and I often appreciate my daily life so much more when I get to take a break from it.
I get itchy when I’m idle for too long. After a short time I feel the undeniable need to plan something. It’s not that I don’t love where I live, it’s just that the world is so big. It can be a weekend trip or a longer international jaunt – I’m always happy I got over the planning hassle aspect and made it happen.
These days with two children under age 3 my travel has slowed down, but I hope to instill in them a similar love of adventure.
I know its not for everyone. When we traveled with our 10 month old daughter across the globe on an eighteen hour trip to Australia some people told us we were nuts. And, yes we were nervous. Still, it was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. Sure, there were a lot of logistical aspects but it was worth it. Besides I learned my lesson years ago.
When in doubt – travel.