I hate to admit this, but there was a time when I thought that I did not need to travel internationally. I recognized the beauty in other countries and had heard amazing tales of other people’s travel, it just didn’t tickle my fancy enough to put forth the effort and make it happen. In all honesty, when I thought about going somewhere it seemed like more of an inconvenience than fun. I thought about the length of the flight, the time I would need to take off work, and the cost. Once all these negative thoughts occupied my mind, there was little room left for excitement.
To give myself a little credit, last year I did attempt to organize a trip to the Dominican Republic with some girlfriends of mine but that trip slowly but surely fell apart. I came to terms with the fact that I was never stepping foot out of the United States, and I accepted that fate without putting up much of a fight. Then earlier this year, a friend of mine extended an invitation to travel to Europe. You may be thinking I jumped at the chance. Actually, I said, “I’ll think about it, and I’ll let you know” but when I got home, that evening I told myself to stop making excuses. I texted my friend to count me in and bought my ticket to Oslo, Norway. I don’t think I’ve ever made a better decision in my life!
As soon as I stepped off the plane I could’ve kicked myself for waiting until I was 29 years old to take my first international trip but I wasn’t going to beat myself up for long. I had ten days to spend in Europe, and I was ready to hit the ground running and see as much as possible. In less than two weeks I landed in Oslo, flew to London, caught a bus to Amsterdam then to Paris, and back to London. I danced in the streets of Amsterdam for King’s Day and played in their tulip fields. I stood atop Paris’ Sacré-Cœur in the rain and loved it. I sat on a hill in Oslo overlooking the harbor just because. I walked in and out of bookstore after bookstore in London because each one was different from the last. This trip forever changed me.I had my aha Oprah moment. It didn’t result in me taking all my savings, packing my bags, quitting my job and buying a one-way ticket. That takes incredible courage, and I applaud those who made that leap, but I did not need to do that. My aha moment was admitting to myself that I deserved a better life than the one I was living. This better life included more and frequent travel. A week after returning from Europe, I booked a trip to South America for late November where I’ll be visiting Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. And now I’m in the process of deciding where I want to celebrate my 30th birthday in December. I refuse to stay put!
This shift in my priorities is chronicled here on my travel blog, I’m Taking Off. I use this blog as a platform to not only share my travels but to encourage others to make travel a priority in addition to their careers. By no means am I an authority on the topic, but I do know the kind of life I want to live. If in pursuit of this life, my experiences encourage others, then I’ve done my part.
I used to look at people who traveled with envy because I wanted to be one of them. But then I bought a ticket, got on a plane and just like that I became one of them. My income didn’t change. I didn’t all of a sudden have more vacation time. That “next time” I always talked about didn’t finally come back around. I chose to go. I say this to tell you that the life you live is your choice. Those who travel are not the chosen few; they are just the ones who chose to live.