I started reading “Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents” which aside from being a brilliant escape from the daily commute, has triggered my deep-seeded desire to travel. And I don’t mean, plan a week-long vacation to a new city, but real, honest to goodness travel. The kind where you set off in a new direction, untethered to a home or life, fuzzy itinerary and timeline in hand. The goal? Experience something out of the ordinary. It also reminds me of how I felt as the plane lifted off the tarmac and the one thing that made it all possible.
Looking back at the gold-embossed leather booklet and its stamps I’m reminded of the giddy excitement I felt when embarking on a new trip; the chance to travel to an unknown destination and the places, people and experiences that burrow themselves into the story of your life.
My goal is always to travel so extensively that I leave no page untagged. Of course, that has yet to happen and I, for one, tend to blame this on overzealous customs agents who seem keen on stamping the same page repeatedly. Don’t they understand I actually peruse the pages and want to remember the places I’ve been? But I digress…
So what makes a traveler? For each person it’s a different story, but if you feel so inclined, join me on a trip down memory lane:
1) The Beginning: The Makings of a Traveler
That’s me, circa 1990, an adolescent, junior high girl. Hormones surging (hence, the super excited face) and a penchant for matching my Wet Seal or Contempo ensembles (complete with scrunchy, natch). My dad, having accumulated a mass of frequent flier points, decided that after the first 13 years of traveling the U.S. in a motor home it was time for an upgrade. Literally. My first trip overseas was in business class. For my fiscally conservative parents, it was a huge leap forward and for my brother and me it meant ice cream sundaes. And England in December? The trip was a blur of snow flurries, drafty hotels, encountering eggs with orange-colored yolks and thick slabs of bacon unlike anything my brother and I had seen, and castles, oodles of castles. It was oddly familiar and starkly foreign. What do I remember most? Navigating the Tube, indulging my overactive imagination on life in medieval England and securing my first Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt. And while it was weird to spend New Years overseas and break from what I was accustomed to, being far away from home and life as I knew it left an indelible mark. And I knew I wanted more…
2) The Post-College Trajectory: Career or the Unknown?
Cut to 1998. I’ve now graduated from college and am in my oh so cool, wish-I-were-a-hipster phase. Note the short red hair and non-visible nose ring (but it’s there). A good portion of my classmates had spent their last semester interviewing for jobs and determining their next move. Me? I had faithfully worked at The Body Shop, slinging Satsuma soap for 3 years to be able to afford my backpacking adventure. So there I found myself, armed with a backpack, a Rough Guide, a Eurorail pass and a loose itinerary of where my best friend, Zuri, and I would go. Where I had dabbled in wanderlust in the past, here I had succumbed to it fully. It was without a doubt, the best decision I ever made. Even as I skidded back to Boulder with two pennies to rub together.
2008. A decade came and went. My backpack has since been retired and in its place a suitcase to wheel down the various concourses where business travels take me. Cut to a new job and confronted with the prospect: travel to Seoul for a press conference. I’d conducted press events before, but I was apprehensive: take a new job and the expectations that came with it, add in a 10+ hour time change and a press conference with about 20 international journalists in attendance. Travel for pleasure had taken a backseat to business travel. It is in this phase I currently reside, and while it has afforded me countless miles and elite status on Continental, I find myself longing to get lost on a bike in Copenhagen or wander aimlessly through the hutongs of Beijing.
So here I sit, recounting my past travel lives as immortalized in those 2″ x 2″ photos. It makes me realize there is so much more world for me to explore. My next passport will be up for renewal in 2018. While I look forward to what the next photo and phase will bring, I’ve got 7 years and a list of destinations a mile long. Time for a new direction I think…