Everyone always tells me I travel a lot but not everyone understands why. That's the inspiration for this post. As I sit here on a 620am train from NY to DC for a meeting, and then back home later tonight, its made me realize why I do it. Why I travel. Today will be a long day, but it's an experience and an opportunity to meet some new faces and develop a new partnership. I wouldn't change it for the world.
For the last two years, my New Years resolution has been to travel more. At the time I am writing this, I've been working in travel for almost 7 years and up until about two years ago, I never really traveled as much as I do now. I would go places for work but I was there for just that, work. Never saw the beach, never dipped my feet into the pool. My life was conference rooms, meetings, and site inspections of hotels in some of the most beautiful places around the world. I enjoyed every minute of it but there was more to enjoy and I was voluntarily missing out. So two years ago I decided my New Years resolution would be to change that. I was going to stop hoarding my vacation days and use them. Every day of my 3 week yearly vacation allowance was going to be used on exploring new experiences. It has since been the best two years of my life. Not just because of the travel, but because of everything that has happened as a result of it.
Travel brings about change, in the traveler and within the country visited. The power of tourism brings money to emerging destinations, creates infrastructure and jobs, preserves rainforests and natural beauty, and creates life stories for both the traveler and its natives. For the traveler, it also brings change in an equally powerful way. It brings self confidence, knowledge, an indescribable passion, it defines you, it creates life stories and memories, it makes YOU the person you knew you were meant to be and at times, the confidence to be the person you've always wanted to be.
For me, all this rings true. In the last few years, I have visited some amazing places but from each place I take with me a new puzzle piece to my "puzzle of life." Those life lessons have changed who I am. In New Zealand I toured the devastation of Christchurch two years after their largest earthquake. Humbling to say the least. In Puerto Vallarta I visited the cathedral of Guadalupe, home of a biblical story that my grandmother has been telling us since we were kids. Only fitting that my first time visiting was a few months prior to her death, and again the year after her death. In Fiji I participated in a native aboriginal Kava ceremony. In Costa Rica I zip lined thru the jungle and relaxed in a thermal heated hot spring. I also learned in depth about their education system and their native way of life. You'd be surprised how much the country cares and provides for its people. Funding that is supported by the power of your tourism dollar, among other industries. In cities around the US I've met new friends in places I've never been and seen historical sites that make up the very foundation that this country was developed from. The list goes on.....but they each have a special meaning and I've learned something from each and every destination I visit.
The point of it is that I continue to make traveling my resolution each year because it is where I find ME. Some people meditate, some people would rather learn in a classroom via a textbook, but I travel. In the last few years I have become a better public speaker, have become more confident in my decisions and in myself, developed lasting friendships around the world, been less afraid to try new things, sampled cuisine I NEVER would have done at home, I worry less, I have become less insecure and much more spontaneous (ok maybe I'm not THAT spontaneous but I'm much more than I used to be). I see a change in me and it was long overdue, and very much welcomed. I attribute all that to travel.
So I finish by asking you a question. Do you have a puzzle of life? It's never too late to start. That's the great thing about this "puzzle". You can start it whenever you want. And the second greatest part?? Well, the second greatest part is that you will never finish it. Everything you do, everywhere you go, you pick up a new piece to the puzzle. Maybe travel isn't for you, that's fine. That's not the point here. Find what fuels your passion and what makes you smile. Is it your family? Your job? A hobby? Self confidence and growth will stem from that. You will find who YOU really are.
So when that puzzle has finally been put to rest, and you look down on it, will you be happy with what you see? Or will there still be some pieces you wish you put in? Don't let a single opportunity go wasted. Go after your dreams and create your life. It starts now and it starts with you