‘To travel is to understand that everyone is wrong about other countries’
I was 22. Just graduated college. Just broke up with my high school sweetheart. Just moved back home. Luckily, I had a spirited and strong-willed best friend, as well as a worldly and passionate grandmother to push me over the edge and get me to use my newfound free time on an experience that I wouldn’t regret. I was scared of flying. I was apprehensive about going to another country. I was afraid of living life.
London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Florence, Rome, sleeping on trains, getting on the wrong trains, not showering, walking 15 miles a day and being so appreciative for a piece of French cheese and a seltzer water while you sit on a park bench, getting caught in the rain, having Italian train workers attempt to extort money out of us, getting stuck in a bad part of town surrounded by drunken psychotic bums, drinking with a cute Australian girl we just met, going to Oktoberfest, having my first Vienna schnitzel, seeing the graves of my ancestors, befriending a local Sicilian cat who guided me through town at midnight, getting so drunk I took my clothes off in the middle of the streets of Florence, giving a gypsy money because a stupid American stole some of his roses…this was life! This was real! My mind was blown. I was exactly where I needed to be and I understood exactly why my Austrian grandmother made me go.
I’ve come across so many people in this world, that want and wish and complain and never act on the things that they truly want to do.. and I want to just punch them in the face and say WAKE UP!!! People who could save money for a month, or a year, or two years…and would easily have enough to have the time of their life…somewhere new. Now it is entirely possible that our lives are devoid of choice and are fatalistic. But it is also possible that our destiny is our own. And….I have to remember that I once was exactly like those people I want to ‘wake up’. We just need someone to give us a push once in a while. And if this blog post can do that for one person, that makes me very happy.
It’s now 8 years later and each opportunity I’ve had to backpack again…I have. I knew all too well that my youth would fade and that I needed to enjoy it. I was blessed in my early 20’s with the chance to travel abroad, a gift given by my grandmother. So each penny I could save since then, I did. Each opportunity that came, I took. I’m not going to tell you who to be, or how to feel, or what traveling abroad can do to your mind, your soul and your spirit. But I will say one last thing…..don’t take a tour bus if you can help it. Walk. Bike. Take a train. Feel every step. Smell all the smells. Be open to meeting people. There are plenty of ways….and you’re never too old to begin.
Times will always change and it will take with it the things you once enjoyed. So enjoy them while they’re still here. Don’t have regrets. One day it will all be over. Live your life. And this is me……trying to push you off the cliff. Enjoy.
And if you have no money. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will afford you a chance to travel somewhere new. Go for it. I did….and it’s well worth it.
‘We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.’