Everyone’s travel story starts differently, mine just happens to start with toast, yes I mean toast as in crispy bread and a little bit of fate of course. Reflecting on travel is something I do often and as this month marks 5 years since I started to travel seriously seems like a great time to mark this milestone in a few different ways. This month’s theme is this anniversary and each week my post will relate to the past 5 years of travel.
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It was early January 2010 and I had arrived in NYC a few days earlier. I was staying in a weird and seriously old school woman’s housing complex in Midtown Manhattan just blocks from Madison Square Garden. Breakfast was served in the dining room, as usual, and I decided to make some toast to go with my yogurt. While the exact details are lost to time, there ended up being a mix up with the breads being toasted in the shared toaster. Me and the girl who had the toast mix up got to chatting briefly and as I didn’t know anyone in NYC or in the housing I decided to invite myself, in a un-charcateristically bold move, to join her for breakfast along with the group she was with. This weirdest of events lead me to meet some of the most fabulous people that started me on the journey to my travels. The girl I met and subsequently the rest of the group I would soon meet all interned at the UN (United Nations) and were from all over the world. They were all only in New York for a few months and wanted to experience everything while there.
In those first three months in New York are a blur of activities, new friendships, and new work (as I was interning for a fashion company myself). While I do have a calendar with what we did when, because I am a bit of a sentimental weirdo in that way, I will spare you the boring details. In those months though I can say I, along with my friends, explored New York well and I being the lone American and the only one not involved in the UN learned so much about the world at large. Making all these wonderful friends made my dreams of travel seem so much more realistic and closer.
I always had a sense of wanderlust but it was hard to imagine truly pursing it. The world seemed big and scary. Up until meeting my now friends in New York City I didn’t know anyone that really traveled outside of tour groups and cruises. I myself had been to Tokyo before meeting them but that was a special circumstance. Looking back 5 years later on everything I have done since I finally succumbed to the wanderlust is just a bit crazy. I am impressed that I was able to travel to 21 countries in 5 years while working full time with not a lot of vacation for a large majority of those trips. ( If you want to read a bit more about the trip that started it all check out the entry about Bastille day on my Top 5 Travel Memories post!)
In 5 years I have made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and slowly have grown into a version of myself closer to the person i’ve always wanted to be. With every trip I have grown as a person and a citizen of the world. I have developed a more complicated and nuanced view of the world at large and the events that happen with in it. I have learned there is more to everything than meets the eye and everything is more similar than it is different.
I sometimes joke that travel has been my Master’s Degree in life, for what I have learned and the debt (oops! YOLO right?) I have racked up in the process. While I have taken a mini break from travel to sort my life out in my old new home of California and to maybe get those finances in order I can only look forward to the next flight to the next destinations not knowing what will await me on arrival. Being able to travel by whatever means is a privilege I am glad I have been able to experience and I only hope the next 5 years are filled with even more adventures than the past!