“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” -Danny Kaye
I was nineteen years old when I took my very first trip overseas. I remember being pretty anxious about flying, but excited for the journey ahead. I was entering my junior year in college and had the incredible opportunity, along with a group of other talented actors, to study Shakespearean acting at the Globe Theater in London. At the time, traveling with others helped ease whatever fears I had of the unknown. Nothing though, could prepare me for the life changing experience I would end up having.
It’s no secret to many, that London holds a very special place in my heart. It’s like my home away from home. I guess the reason why I’m so connected to it, is because it’s where I was first bit by the travel bug. I share this with people all the time and some of them don’t really get it. In their experience, London is cold, gloomy and the food isn’t all that great. Sure the nightlife is fun, but generally speaking, they don’t get the whole “Hoop-la” surrounding it. Honestly, I can understand their mild distaste. I suppose it isn’t the ideal place to vacation, but my experience goes beyond what’s on the surface. For me, it was my first time being exposed to so much culture and history all at once: Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, British Museum, Big Ben, West End Theater and partaking in the traditional Afternoon tea...I love its architecture and there’s just something aesthetically beautiful about the archaic buildings. Plus, I celebrated my twentieth birthday there, which was pretty special and had my very first glass of wine. I learned that “rave” was just another word for “party” and “mate” another word for “friend” (gosh! I love the lingo). I cultivated some lifelong friendships and learned to see the world through a different lens. On top of that, I enjoyed riding the Tube much more than the NYC Subway and got a thrill out of riding on the “wrong side of the street” as I used to joke. I often relive these experiences through pictures, conversations and daydreams and so many memories are still etched in my heart.
Being introduced to a culture other than my own, made me realize how much of a bubble I had been living in and how I so needed to pop that bubble and expand my worldview. Once my mind had opened up, I discovered a side to me that had been locked away somewhere. I felt more powerful, courageous, unique and creative. In a way I was reinventing myself and on the road to embracing my individuality. That is one of the most fulfilling spaces to be in and something I’m always working towards. When I returned home seven months later, I knew that London wasn’t it. I needed to experience much more of the world and feed my insatiable appetite to travel.
Since London, I’ve been to four continents, eleven countries (lived in one) and traveled around the United States. Even still, that’s nowhere near the quantity of the world I wish to see. Honestly, this is a never-ending voyage. Someone recently asked me, “What is it about traveling you’re so drawn to?” I guess the fire in my eyes and how my face lights up when I speak about it spurred that question. Surprisingly, it was difficult finding the right words to effectively express my deep passion for traveling. I failed at the first attempt, but now as I ruminate on this, I realize that: traveling is like an invitation to experience all that life has to offer. It frees me from self-imposed limitations and opens my mind to a level of consciousness unachieved by staying in one place. Travel teaches me that we are all human beings, connected by the same divine source no matter the religion and that the true message is love. Finally, traveling lets me know that I am just a tiny part of a bigger picture… I am so grateful to be able to live in the world knowing that my existence is greater than whatever theories my mind can create. I simply travel out of a genuine love for it. It is a monumental part of my growth, purpose and who I am today.
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
I went back to London recently and found myself exploring with a fresh set of eyes and more opened mind. I was older, more mature and could appreciate the experience better than I could six years ago. Of course, it was nostalgic walking past the Globe Theater along the Thames River or grabbing groceries from Sainsbury’s, but I discovered many new things too, like the Notting Hill Carnival and the beautiful countryside. A good amount of my time though, was spent catching up with one of my dearest friends. To see the amount of growth between the two of us, in each of our journeys, was very touching and refreshing. This time, my trip lasted only three weeks, which was bittersweet, but included visits to France, Spain and Denmark. Each place spoke to me in different ways, which made for an all-around unique and fun experience. When it was time to leave, I was pretty emotional. I felt like I was leaving pieces of my freedom behind. I held back my tears as I boarded the plane for the long journey home and when I finally landed on American soil, I released. I know it probably looked pretty ridiculous to be crying in the airport like I was in some romantic comedy, but that’s ok…We’re allowed a few moments like that in our lifetime, right?
I wish for everyone to have at least one opportunity to travel somewhere overseas at some point in their lives. You don’t need to be rich. You don’t even have to have a lot of money (which is one misconception about traveling). Paulo Coelho in his book Aleph says, “Travel is never a matter of money but of courage”. I couldn’t agree more as I am living proof of that (I’ll save that story for another time). I believe that traveling contributes to the well-roundedness of an individual. It also has educational value and not really something that can be captured in a book or article. The experience in itself is much more rewarding than that. I encourage you to leave the comforts of home and familiarity to see what else the world has to offer. Allow your way of thinking to be challenged and how you view your environment to be changed. I have many more travel stories to share, but I hope that something I said in this article resonates and inspires someone to be courageous enough to board a plane and travel somewhere, just anywhere…