Welcome back to my blog! Today’s post is a little different because I want to talk about why I travel instead of how.
I realize that maybe some of you are looking for tips and pointers, but this post is more of a “lifestyle” post. Though, I do believe it is equally as important.
To make this post more dynamic I am going to split it into the Who, When, Where, and finally…. Why. You already know the What, travel.
Who I am is imperative to how I got to where I am today. My life has not always been easy and I think sharing my personal history could be kind of cathartic.
I actually grew up for the first half of my life in New Orleans, Louisiana. I moved to Washington state a year after hurricane Katrina with my step-mom and my dad.
Life before Washington was spent with my biological mother who struggled with a severe drug addiction.
I have seen a lot of pain in my life and suffered some abuse but I always felt like there was something big waiting for me. Even as a kid I knew that what I was going through was only a mere obstacle I had to get past.
Fast forward a few years and I live in Washington with my step-mom, dad, and sister. My parents (dad and step-mom) are AMAZING! They have given me a beautiful life here in Washington and have supported me through some pretty rough stuff.
Most of all they gave me opportunity.
Not a day has gone by that I don’t realize just how blessed I am. The fact that I did not become a statistic is pretty crazy in its self.
Given everything that I have been through, it would be easy to make excuses, play the victim, find something unsavory to ease the pain.
I became involved with Rotary International at the age of 15. I volunteered heavily in high school. I even varsity lettered in community service ( I am a nerd I know..).
Part of the repercussions of my past includes my overwhelming need to help people, probably because for a long time no one could help me.
I love being a part of something bigger than myself and touching people’s lives in any way that I can.
I especially love working with kids because there were so many times in my life I wish I had someone who could relate to me. Without it being a therapy session.
Volunteering with Rotary exposed me to the Rotary youth exchange program and the rest was history.
I became obsessed with traveling and some how bamboozled my parents into letting me do a study abroad with Rotary when I was only 16.
My sister and I before she left for her Rotary exchange and the 5 year anniversary of the day my exchange started. I’m a proud sista!
My foreign exchange is the most significant time I can think of for my sudden shift of wanderlust.
I lived in Norway for a year as an exchange student and it absolutely changed my life. (read my post 5 Reasons to Study Abroad)
Basically, I realized how truly amazing this planet is. All the people, the languages, the food, and the art, all relative to their geographic locations! It was mind blowing.
I traveled to Russia while I lived in Norway and I met some of the kindest people in the world. Every idea i had ever possessed about Russia was diminished. This is when I knew I had to travel for the rest of my life.
Me cross country skiing for the first time in Norway.
EVERYWHERE! That’s where I wanna go. I am 22 now, after next month I will have been to 18 countries. The goal is to get to 25 before I am 25. There are many places I would love to see and I know seeing all of them is quite the task but it is a challenge I am willing to take on.
Scandinavia holds a special place in my heart and I attribute my love for cultural immersion to Norway.
Norway is where I discovered that you don’t have to know anyone in a country to feel like you are at home. Never in my life had I been anywhere for more than a few nights without out my family, let alone a foreign country where I knew not a soul for a year.
But people are people no matter where they are located. Relationships are beautiful and developing them in unexpected places is even more beautiful.
Top photo: Brady and I when I took him to Norway this past winter.
Bottom photo: Two of my best Norwegian friends from my exchange.
And finally we are to the why. I will try to consolidate this section as much as humanly possible but I won’t make any promises.
Honestly, writing this post almost brings me to tears. I can not explain to you what traveling means to me. There is no item in this world that matches the value of a plane ticket, that’s why I spend almost all of my money on them.
I have talked to so many people who don’t understand why I travel as much as I do or why it is a priority for me. In fact, my boyfriend’s brother was just giving us crap for all the “vacations” we take.
The reality is that not everyone can be rich, live a lavish life, and drive luxury cars. We can save and invest all the money we want but that doesn’t give us happiness. Well it may for some, but not for me.
In my world, the greatest form of wealth is in experience. Brady and I try to give each other “experience” gifts for every occasion.
Whether it be a concert, comedy show, weekend trip, or international adventure, we love doing things together. We would gladly trade all of our material items if it meant we could live life as nomads.
When we travel we fall in love all over again, not only with each other but with where we are together. What we experience together while abroad brings us closer together and helps us get through the daily grind in between trips.
Some people live to work but I work so that I can live. There is too much in this world I want to see. Too many people I want to meet.
People are truly the most amazing part of any trip, in my opinion. They make your experience what it is; between the staff at the places you stay and eat, the locals you meet in the markets, or the villagers you engage with when you volunteer, they are all part of a unique experience.
The people of a community are a product of their culture and there for embody everything that culture represents.
Part of the appeal traveling offers is the ability to break stereo-types and preconceived notions. Notions that we not only have about other nations but that other nations have about us.
The world powers will do what they do; cause political chaos, declare wars, and put each other down. I think we all forget to remember the people and families all over the world that are just like us.
Media has allowed us to be desensitized to the pain and harm of others. We see them as statistics and products of extreme and distant practices.
The most dangerous thing we can do as humans is forget that we are all human.
I promise you that if you travel in a sustainable and ethical way, you will be reminded of humanity and you will have a different outlook on the world and the people in it.
Travel promotes peace.
Go ahead, roll your eyes and call me a hippie, my dad does all the time. I refuse to be cynical about traveling because I demand to see the good in this world and to show others the good this world has to offer them.
I hold myself accountable for showing the people I meet in my travels that not every American wants to change them and teach them the “Western way”.
I want to learn I want to absorb everything I can in my time there like a sponge.
I want to understand and to empathize.
To travel is to challenge yourself, to step out of your comfort zone and embrace things that may scare you a bit. To travel is to represent who you are and what YOUR culture embodies.
That is why I travel.
Thank you guys so much for reading this very personal post! Please leave comments regarding what you’d like to read in the future. xoxo