Why I Travel So Much – Real Talk
Those who know me, know I love to travel. Sometimes I hear people say, “You’re so lucky. You’ve been everywhere. You’ve been to China, England, Spain, and everywhere.” But is it luck? I beg to differ more like the will to see the world and create happiness for myself. I remember when I didn’t travel anywhere besides the occasional road trip down south to see family. The first time I took a flight, I paid for it myself at 17. It was the summer before college, and I flew alone to Charlotte to see family. I was so scared and to top things off on the way home the plane was low on fuel. The pilot had to make an emergency landing. People were praying and saying their Hail Marys. I just took it all in and hoped I made it safely. I knew there was much more of this world to be seen and I was just starting. Traveling is my medicine now. If I’m feeling down, it’s time to book a flight to somewhere warm. My favorite go-to is Miami. It’s affordable, warm and quick.
As a child, my go-to was work. My parents coming from very humble beginnings worked many hours to provide for my sisters and me. When I was able to work at the age of 14, I got a job. During my senior year in high school, I had three jobs. I interned at the local news times, worked in the after school program and at Carvel Ice Cream. I’ve always kept busy and loved having my own money. But soon the desire to see the world exploded. Each year in my Advance Placement class, the students would converse about upcoming trips.
These students were from a different social class and had the luxury of taking real vacations. I will never forget one day before spring break in eleventh grade, students were talking about their upcoming trips. One student said he was going to Hawaii with his parents, the others mentioned going to Madrid with the school. The list continued and included places such as England, France, and the Caribbean. When the question found me, I would simply state that I had to work. It was true, but inside I burned. I wanted to go to Spain and Hawaii. I never wanted to feel like that way again, so I made a vow to myself at 16 years old that when I got some real money, I would go wherever I wanted to go, whenever: PERIOD.
I think I caught up now, but am nowhere near completing my bucket list. My first trip abroad was to Cancun and I was super proud that as a 19 years old college student, I was able to save up enough money to go. I was in heaven with the ocean and meeting people from every where. The following year, I completed a language immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I studied conversational Spanish, met a Mexican guy named Pedro who taught me how to dance Salsa. Most people are surprised that I learned Salsa in Mexico and not Puerto Rico, the “Salsa” capital. The family I resided with were amazing; they practiced their English with me. Only the mother and the maid spoke Spanish which gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Staying there for a month opened up another world to me.
With gainful employment and an awesome travel club*, I’ve been to Mexico, Barcelona, Madrid, China, England, Holland, Czech Republic, Austria, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Belize (Our first official family trip in 2010, my father’s homeland), Barbados, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and numerous big cities in the east, midwest, south, and west coasts.
This list is not exhaustive; there’s so much more of the world I want to see and show my daughter. I would like her to see the world beyond her inner circle. I don’t want her to be that student in the classroom, when they go around the room discussing upcoming trips, say she has no travel plans. I want her to return to school and provide first hand knowledge about the Forbidden City in China. And tell them about the pyramids that she visited in Egypt when the lesson calls. She will be well- versed in the world around her beyond the books she has to read.
I never leave home without my travel pillow!
The featured image is at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii (2016)-a place I’ve been longing to visit since high school.