An independent affiliate of Virtuoso.

How Travel Brings Out Your Best Self by Guest, KJ McNamara


Today I’m featuring someone who is a true travel pro and a best friend (I’m lucky that they came in one package!). She’s traveled across the globe to Greece to meet me, we’ve road-tripped across the U.S. together, and she flies almost daily for work (seriously…she’ll fly over 300,000 miles just for work this year). Her profession has given her the opportunity to empower collegiates all over the country to be themselves. It’s safe to say, that travel is a big part of what has shaped her both in personal life and career. Without further ado, here’s the travel connoisseur herself telling you about how travel can make you a better version of yourself.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is KJ McNamara and I am the Vice President of a small company called Phired Up Productions.  What we do is we are a professional training company.  My team and I travel to college campuses all over the country.  Last year I alone traveled to 92 college campuses, 5 professional conferences, and 6 different countries.  Needless to say… I travel a lot.

On Explorateur Travel’s blog you will find great information on where you should travel, how you should travel and who you should travel with.  I want to tell you a little of why you should travel. 

Traveling for work has been a large part of my professional identity.  Actually I have never had a career job that does not require me to switch my iPhone into airplane mode at least once a week.  The truth is it can be empowering, challenging and mostly generate some pretty spectacular self-love and respect. 

Empowering:  You should travel to test yourself.  You should travel to prove to yourself you can manage way more then you give yourself credit for.  I think in my hardest moments in life I have always wondered if I was very strong or very capable.  Being a road warrior has taught me repeatedly that I am resilient, adaptable, powerful and mostly unstoppable when I set my mind to something.  It taught me that I am worth it and more than my doubts.  The courage you get from dropping yourself into a city, finding a restaurant… heck finding your hotel again, making friends, and mostly not feeling lonely is priceless.  Traveling alone or with people constantly reminds you that what you need to be happy lives inside of you – not on your Netflix cue, or at the bottom of a wine glass. 

Challenging:  No matter how empowering travel can be there will be downfalls, large and small.  Some of them include losing your luggage, but most of them come from the guilt you feel for leaving.  I am married, and my husband has a stable 9 – 5 job.  So many people ask me, ‘does your husband miss you?  How does he manage?  When are you going to step back?  You cannot do this and be a mother you know?’  That is the most challenging part.  The shame people put on me through conversation or the assumptions that I don’t know what I am doing in an airport and mostly the complete and totally lack of stability in my life.  Those are the challenges you face for life shaking and breath taking moments. 

You are guaranteed to lose sleep.  You will not drink enough water or eat nearly as healthy as you should.  Your workout regiment will be a total joke sometimes.  You will find yourself crying alone in an airport… guaranteed, and those are the days you want to throw it all in and quit.  But I would rather find myself crying alone in an airport feeling terrified about living so close to the edge any day over finding myself crying alone on my bathroom floor terrified that I never lived.  That is the gamble I made and the challenge I am willing to face.  You have to ask yourself what is worse for you to lose, your stability or your sanity.

Generate a sense of self-love:  Now, every challenge has it’s perks.  You would not go through the Hell of traveling if it did not have truly massive and awe inspiring benefits.  The truth is I met myself somewhere in-between home and 36,000 feet.  I became a person I really liked because of travel.  What traveling does is it strips you of every excuse, every creature comfort, and every shield you have.  It makes you look at yourself in the mirror for a long time.  Then it makes you live alone with just yourself for a few days.  You have to really like yourself to be alone with yourself for that long.  You get to be whoever you want to be in a place where no one knows you.  The moment you choose to be yourself if the most breathtaking view of all. 

People are afraid to leave their “home” with their restaurants, friends, and familiarity.  I get it.  But, you learn what you really want and what you really like when you find things you love in a place you have never been.  You meet yourself when you are alone.  You are a tea bag, you deserve to put yourself in hot water so people know just how strong you are.   The only thing stopping you is your fear of your doubts, or your fear of what other people think or even worse your fear loneliness.  You will be so proud of yourself when you conquer all three and all it takes is a quick trip.

Today the world is full of opinions on how we can be better.  We are plagued with messages about how easy it is to be a better cook, have better hair, eat better, have a better body, be a better spouse or parent, and mostly how it is simple to live up to the impossible standard that has been set for us.  Visiting a new city, sitting alone in my brain at a strange coffee shop, politely chatting with the barista, preparing for my day is one of the only times I feel like I am enough and that I don’t need to be better.  Traveling has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and mostly… traveling has taught me happiness.

Follow the adventure!