TRAVEL IS ________________(fill in the blank)!
I’d love to hear from each person reading this blog post as to what they would write on that blank line. In other words, what does TRAVEL mean to you?
Here is my list of what Travel IS to me:
- Travel is my passion and my livelihood.
- Travel is magical and transformative.
- Travel is healing and spiritual.
- Travel is educational and eye-opening.
- Travel is the primary catalyst for joy in my life.
- Travel is exhilarating and exhausting in equal parts (if you do it right)!
- Travel is great at changing your perspective and your attitude
- Travel is how I’ve created my own “global family” and that feeds my soul
- Travel is a blessing and a gift .
- Travel is never promised… like LIFE, there is no guarantee.
- Travel is to be embraced in this moment… not deferred until old age.
- Travel is my lover and best friend.
- Travel is my escape and solitude.
- Travel is what gives my life purpose and meaning.
- Travel is EVERYTHING my dreams are made of!
So there you have it! Travel is a fundamental part of my life, and has helped to mold me into the woman I am today.
With all of the trips around this planet I have under my belt, part of me is still a bit ticked off that I didn’t discover international travel until my mid-30s. Oh, how I would have loved to know about “backpacking” or work/trade opportunities abroad. I encourage every young person I encounter to embrace that type of travel before they get tied down with marriage and family… but I’m always saddened by how few of them take my advice!
So, for me, I found my way to travel through my curiosity about one particular woman whom I interacted with almost daily. I was working as a medical transcriptionist and delivered work to the same doctor’s office each afternoon. I began to notice over some period of months that the front-office admin (Kathy) took an inordinate amount of trips to Europe, with specific emphasis on Italy. Finally, when I could not stand it anymore, I asked her how she was doing that. My husband and I both worked hard and made good money, but we could not fly off to Europe every quarter… no way, no how!
She told me that she and her husband had been hosting exchange students from Italy for 4 years, and that they simply bought airfare to Milan, and then went to visit their former students, and were invited to stay with their families. And, she said, once you are at one of their homes, your money is no longer good in that country! In other words, they will spoil you rotten, and will not allow you to pay for anything for the entire time you’re with them.
I went home and told my husband about this discovery, and within the next 5 weeks, we were signed up to host Italian exchange students through the same organization that Kathy was part of. That decision changed our lives too!
We had 8 girls over the years, and 2 young men. I remain friends with 6 of these kids to this day. My first exchange student in particular is absolutely part of my family. I call her “Angel Girl” and she calls me “Good Mum”. I have been blessed to meet and know her entire family, was at her wedding (oh what a great time that was), and celebrated the birth of both of her daughters with her and her husband, Giovanni. They are a source of pure joy and love in my life each and every day.
Through those initial trips to Europe and being able to leverage staying with their families, my husband and I were able to take side trips to many many other countries in Europe through the years. That set us on a course of world exploration that was still going strong when he passed away from an accident in 2017.
Travel has remained the most important part of my life in the aftermath of that tragedy. It has allowed me to regain my balance and purpose, has opened new vistas and new horizons, and has allowed me to continue growing my “global family” year after year. I now have “kids” on 4 continents, and I have no intention of stopping that now.
I encourage you all to find a way to start traveling. Even saving up your lunch money and taking long weekend journeys through your own state can be transformative. Anything that changes your physiology and environment can be healing and restorative.
What I caution you against, however, is working like a dog, year after year. Saving all your hopes, dreams and money for “tomorrow”. If nothing else Covid should have taught all of us that tomorrow is never promised. Our ability to travel or live our best life is fleeting and delicate. It can be taken away in an instant… or we could simply not be in good enough health to travel by the time we retire!
My number one wish for each of you is that you DREAM BIG and don’t be afraid to STRETCH to get what you want. If you surround yourself with material things, you’ll just grow tired of them after a while and wind up giving them to Goodwill or selling them at a garage sale. But memories made through travel will last a lifetime!
TRAVEL is a fence mender, a wall breaker, and a peacemaker!
TRAVEL IS _____________ EVERYTHING GOOD ABOUT LIFE!