I think it’s safe to say we have all had that first love; the one that we talked to all night and danced under the stars for hours after curfew with, the one who made you laugh so hard you had tears rolling down your face, the one who embraced you and let you feel so much of their warmth, and the one who left that impact so deep in your heart that you think about everything you did together every single day since you left them. They made you feel so young, young and in love…with travel.
I was 20 when I found mine. Her name’s South Africa.
I didn’t expect to find myself wanting and wishing to be back until my first adventure to the Rainbow Nation. After spending one month in the country with a couple of short trips to Swaziland and Mozambique, I was hooked; I was so hooked in fact that I decided to fly back less than a year later. I spent 12 weeks in Cape Town and fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with the country and its people. When I tell people this I usually get two types of reactions, but the looks of awe and curiosity are the ones I love the most.
Check out this quick list I put together of 5 reasons that justify why it’s ok to be young and in love with travel!
You’re only young once, so why not live life to the fullest, right? You can redefine “growing up” (whatever that means). You can broaden your perspective, make your world connect in different ways, and do something new every day. Stop asking yourself when you’ll go back or when you’ll leave, just go.
Now’s your time to be selfish, it’s your time to fill your soul and no one else’s. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but honestly I cannot say this enough! I know we all have that picture perfect future in the back of our minds, or that picturesque path that you’re currently standing on leading you to that amazing job, but when will you ever get the chance to take off and find something that you’re not even looking for or that’s not even there yet? Feed your dreams of eating gelato in some random city in Italy, grab a coffee at the same coffee shop you already went to four times, and laugh that belly deep laugh because what do you have to lose (you’re in Italy for crying out loud!!). Let your mind wander and your feet will follow, I promise!
That big girl/boy job will be there when you get back, well, probably! You just graduated with that brand spankin’ new degree- ah it looks good in that frame (that imaginary one, because it’s actually still hanging out in the closet, oops) and…YOU GOT THE JOB! Not the dream job, but A JOB! Now this is when things get hard. You’re trying to decide if you should take that trip to India that you’ve dreamed of since you were in high school and that trip that was inspired from your one week volunteer trip in Haiti, or stay home and take the job and work forever and ever and ever…hmm. I’m not saying it’s an easy decision at all, but if all goes well with the world, that job (and more) will be there when you get back. Going abroad will open doors, doors you had no idea existed. You’ll learn more about yourself than you thought- yep, even the fact that you have learned to embrace wearing the same pair of socks 7 days in a row- and that dream job that overlooked you the first time, won’t even second guess your strength, independence, and well roundedness.
(Insert home town here) isn’t going anywhere. If you’re worried about leaving mom, dad, sis, bro, g-ma, or g-pa and THAT’S OK! I cried almost every night for a week when I studied abroad. I missed my family and my friends, but the funny thing was that nothing was changing at home. Everyone was still doing life, the same life that they were doing a week or six months ago, and I was over in Cape Town like “what’s happening bru and are we having a braai!?” But no, I’m serious- make moves, you won’t regret it.
You’re stronger than you think you are and I know you can do it. Make your life an adventure and step out of your comfort zone. Traveling is fun and scary, it’ll make you cry happy cries and sad cries, but it will be the time that fills your soul with magic and make you feel alive…really alive.
So basically what I’m trying to tell ya’ll is don’t be afraid to fall in love with travel and IT’S OK to do so! I hope this helped put your mind at ease a little bit, and let the adventure continue…
Travel far & travel often my friends.