The Liberation of Travel

Traveling is a huge part of my life. After I graduated college, I went on a rather spontaneous trip to Aruba for a week. It was my first time leaving the country, and as soon as I stepped off the plane and into the soft island sand, I was hooked. I immediately began planning my next trip, and started narrowing down the places I wanted to visit the most.

Since then, I have been to Iceland, Punta Cana, Greece, and all over Italy. I have also been to California, Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

My most recent trip was to Italy and Greece for three weeks. I went with my boyfriend, and we were absolutely thrilled to be going. I spent months planning where to go and what to see. So I was surprised at the reaction I got from people upon telling them about my trip.

Reactions were mostly negative. People were confused as to why I was going away for “so long” and worried about “how I could possibly afford to do something like that.”

I saved up a ton of money to go on this trip. I work really hard—I have three jobs and I also run my own online magazine. But honestly, the money factor is no one’s business, and I was annoyed that it was everyone’s main concern regarding my travels.

Another common reaction was “You haven’t worked long enough yet to deserve a vacation that long.” A ridiculous thing to say, usually from people who were above fifty years old.  Sometimes I work fourteen hour days—I rolled my eyes and just let these comments go.

The list goes on. I got reactions like, “So you’re just gallivanting in Europe for three weeks?” “That’s like three vacations in one!” “Why did you decide to do this now?”

For me, travel is liberating. It is tangible learning. You are in a new place, with new people, eating new foods you have never tried. Everything is new and is right in front of you to see for yourself. You aren’t looking up images of the Trevi Fountain on Google anymore—you are standing in front of it and throwing coins in. The water is splashing on your legs and pigeons are flying around the crowd, trying to find some crumbs. A pizzaria is right around the corner and you can smell the garlic. What could be better than that?

Everyone’s negative reactions about my trip actually concerned me, because all of those people are missing out of the joy of travel, and the true learning experience that it is. I have learned so much through all my trips, about the places and about myself. I had to navigate the Italian train system while feeling extremely nauseous from the nine hour plane ride.. I had to drive around Iceland at night in my rental car with no working GPS—while it was snowing. I had to walk through so many unfamiliar streets and talk to complete strangers to find the hotels and Air B&B’s I was staying in. All while looking around in disbelief at the beauty that was right in front of me.

Travel has shaped me into who I am. I thrive off of what I have learned in all these places. So when people tried to tell me that my trip wasn’t a good idea, I thought they were insane. What an absurd thing to say to someone who lives for that feeling you get when the plane takes off, and you look out the window and the trees get smaller and smaller until they look like broccoli.

I have learned more about the world from my travels than from all my years in school. I feel bad for the people who don’t think that traveling is a good idea, and don’t think there is educational value in it. I urge everyone who is reading this to go out and see the world. I haven’t seen even half of it yet, but what I have seen is more beautiful than any dream. Don’t let the negativity steer you wrong.