I officially traveled abroad at a year old. My parents thought it was a good idea to take me to Mexico with them and my California cousin and her husband. No passport, wearing diapers across the boarder. There are pictures. I don’t consider this my introduction to the jetsetter life though. My mother made sure that I had experiences in places outside of the state of Florida. Most of these trips were by car. Well except the incredibly long train ride my mother and I took to Philly to visit my aunt when I was about six.
My first plane ride was to Akron with my godmother to visit family at 11. Then there were all of the choir trips and ACT-SO competitions. By the time that I got to college I had been to a lot of places. Now that I think about it, I was a traveler early in life. But I say that to suggest maybe my free spirit when it comes to travel can be blamed on my mother. She’s a true free spirit where as I am totally careful and slightly risk averse. But not when it comes to traveling. I am quite at ease with booking an international flight and figuring the rest out later.
At 21 I took my first trip across the big water, embarking on a semester long study abroad. I got to attend the prestigious and very old Oxford University. I saw the Harry Potter staircase and courtyard, threw my coins in the Trevi fountain, stared at the Sistine Chapel in awe, and drank wine in a Madrid market. I lived out of suitcase for almost six week traipsing across Western Europe. I was also the only black person on my study track. I lived the dream. Since then I have not looked back or shied away from packing my bag and hitting the dusty trail on countless adventures.
In almost eight years. I have been on 3.5 continents (Central America isn’t quite a continent of its own), in 21 countries, and visited so many cities that I for get to name them all. I have been to Europe more times than most people go to places in their own backyard. My mother says that I am a citizen of the world because I have no place that I truly feel at home. Again, she be knowin’. And I have no plans of stopping. Travel is life, much like ball…. Well books in my case. This grand adventure has taught me a lot and changed not only my perspective but also who I am fundamentally. I look at the world, even my own country with a sort of awe and am always wanting to experience how big the world actually is.
I have learned to embrace the unexpected and the uniqueness of myself. I definitely downplay the knowledge that I have gained and the places that I have seen, mostly because I am not the type to boast. If nothing else I recognize my extreme fortune, although I do still take for granted the privilege that I have to be able to go like I do and where I do. In the last few years I have worked almost tirelessly to bring my friends and family along with me on my travels. So many times I hear, “I couldn’t do that” “You’re so lucky” “You’re so brave.” And because of this it has become my mission to demystify traveling. It really is for everybody. This is not to say that traveling is not scary, but so is walking to your car from the store when the sun goes down.
So here is to seizing the day and showing that travel is for everyone. You just have to take that first step. Follow me!