Travel Is More Than Checklists

France, Ireland, italy, musings, Scotland, Travel

In my work, and my passion, there is a lot of talk about “bucket lists”. Bucket Lists, for those unaware, are lists of things and places one wants to go to before they “kick the bucket” aka drop dead.

While it’s great to have lists and goals, dreams and wishes, it’s also important not to lose track of all the other reasons one should travel.

No doubt I have my own goals I want to accomplish, and a bucket list a mile long, yet I know in my heart of hearts I travel for much more than checking off places.

When I was 19 and I took off to Europe by myself, I kept thinking “if I die now I will feel fulfilled”. I felt this when I saw Paris. Then again in London. Again in Edinburgh. Once again in Ireland….and I have felt it so many more times in eight and a half years. Yet I have not run out of places I want to visit, things I want to experiences, beauty I want to absorb. This is because the act of traveling is much more than coming home and saying “I have been here” it’s the stories, the people, and the moments that make traveling whole.

Some of my more vivid memories have nothing to do with making it to a place I always wanted to see. While seeing the Eiffel Tower was spectacular. I remember the same wonder at a funeral procession in the Orkney Islands. Something about those moments connected me deeper to humanity that I was witnessing, and the glory that was our existence. I laughed as much at a comedy show in Dublin as I did a little girl in a park in Blarney who was trying to talk me out of my crackers as I ate a picnic. I have wept seeing the Mona Lisa and the Birth of Venus, surrounded by hundreds of people, because of the connection we all felt through time and to ourselves and those around us in awe. I have also cried sitting alone on mountain tops, flabbergasted at the insignificance of my own size and existence.

My point is that travel is an emotional experience. Travel is a humanitarian experience. I travel to be more in love with the people I share earth with. I travel to be humbled at the beauty of nature. I have traveled to get closer to family and friends. I have traveled to escape family. Traveling means pushing my comfort levels to a breaking point. Traveling means eating food I never would try otherwise (hello escargot). Travel means drinking and eating at totally bizarre places and falling in love with it. Traveling means looking other people in the face and feeling connected to them, even if they are a complete stranger.

Because checking off lists holds you to a form, and the earth is far better explored in its natural chaos.

Travel is to live your life to its highest value.

Travel, in its pure form, is magic.

Happy Travels!

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Don’t Hold Back

musings, Travel
I have this conversation a lot, with men and women, mostly with women.
They say “I could never leave the country by myself”
I say “Why not? I have three times”
They say “WHAT? Did you stay with people? How? I’m not that brave.”
I say “Brave, or stupid, it’s so worth it….”
What I have learned, especially with women, is that so many feel that they either have to have male/friend accompaniment, or permission to go on their own. I know so many women that end up not taking a trip, or an excursion, or an outing without someone with them.
It’s not just on a trip in a foreign country, it’s even here in the states. And it’s nothing to do with a controlling partner, it has so much to do with people just fearing being on their own.
Many people won’t go to movies or dinner by themselves. They barely want to go to the grocery store without their kids, or partner or friend. There is an inherent cultural or biological fear on being solo out in the world.
Some of it is the fear of the unknown, the fear of loneliness, the fear of being hurt or pained. We have a culture that feeds on fears as if the world is falling apart, but the truth is that it has always been falling apart, and I refuse to be afraid of existing in it.
There is nothing wrong with this, I find it curious. I also have learned that I can’t wait around in my life for someone to come with me to see the world, to live my life. If I had waited, I would have never visited anywhere I have been.
When I was in high school friends would talk to me about traveling when I was planning my first trip. They would speak that they wanted to go, but no one really saved the money, no one got their passport, no one was serious.
I could have held back, I could have waited another year or two. But I realized that no one was going to actually follow through. I loved my friends, but their priorities were different at the time, totally ok, but I couldn’t wait.
Of course I was completely scared when I got on a plane to London, and then to Germany. I cried at the airport because I was frightened, I was afraid of all the horror stories people had sent me. I was afraid I would end up in a dumpster or on the sex slave market. Yet, nothing like this has ever happened, very little “bad” things have even happened, and mostly it was of my own making.
While the fear is real. Very real. While being aware of your surroundings and cultural situations is important, there is also a level where I will unapologetically jump into the world and live my life.
My husband is not nearly as adventurous as I, he will not leave the country without me, but it doesn’t hold him back because he’s happy being a homebody. It doesn’t hold me back because he doesn’t expect that I stay. I will continue to travel and embrace my existence, with or without him. Because I can’t wait around for someone else to permit me to have my best life.
So I encourage all of you, if you can, to get out and be by yourself. Explore the world, embrace your life, see new things, eat new food. Don’t be afraid.
Also, the best thing about being a solo traveler is that you are forced to make friends, forced to meet new people, and you will and they will continue to be inspiring voices and people as you traverse the world.