No Regrets

Etretat, France

Etretat, France

When I was in my early 20s, having just graduated from college, I took out a bank loan so I could travel Europe for the summer. The first two-weeks of the trip was through my college, studying International Business. When that ended most of my classmates went home (what?!), but I traveled for another two weeks with my sister, who came over to join me. She and I got ourselves around Germany, Italy, a bit of Switzerland, and France, all by the grace of luck, the camaraderie of fellow travelers and our trusty Let’s Go: Europe guidebook. This was (way) before cellphones or the internet as we know it. I remember getting off the train in bustling Florence and heading to the nearest payphone to find a room for the night.

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

After my sister Cindy went home, I spent another month traveling by myself around France, since that was the only foreign language I spoke. It was exhilarating, scary, freeing and sometimes lonely. It gave me a sense of self-reliance and confidence that was previously unmatched. I would call my mom and dad from a French payphone every Sunday evening and tell them where I was and where I was heading. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age.

Doing this trip and specifically traveling on my own, made a huge and lasting impact on my life. I didn’t know, what I didn’t know and went into the whole endeavor with the blissful ignorance of a 20 year-old. Thank goodness for that. This was one of those experiences that helped shaped my life, perspective and self-worth. A hearty thanks to my parents for believing in me and letting me go.

Ahhh, Venice

Ahhh, Venice

It took me two years to pay off the loan, but I never regretted it even once. Since then, traveling has been a delicious itch in my life. I still get incredibly excited about going places. Now, it’s often with my family and I love the new perspective of going with our daughter. I get a real kick out of watching her explore the world. And it’s a thinly veiled attempt to make a traveler out of her.

I’m curious how other people got the travel bug? If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, how did it start?

x Laura

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12 responses to “No Regrets

  1. Quite a risk, but the absolute right decision! I’m sure your experiences have helped you in the future, so the investment was totally worth it! Me personally, I got the travel bug from traveling for business reasons as a teenager. I kind of loved the traveling more than the job, so I decided to quit the later and just travel more :)

  2. My first international trip (other than leaving my birthplace for the US) was to Paris and Barcelona right after I graduated from law school. I was hooked and both are still favorite cities of mine. Travel is like school, it’s personal enrichment for your mind and soul. Always worth the money spent for it.

  3. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing it. E

  4. Loved reliving your trip with you!

  5. Laura – What an excellent write-up of a fantastic experience that obviously influenced you for the rest of your life. And so nice of you to credit your mom and dad for “believing in you and letting you go”. They must be wonderful people.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Ann

  6. Hi Laura. I read this when it was first posted, and was so awestruck by both your writing and your experience, that I couldn’t write an immediate comment. I’m so impressed with this first major travel experience, something that I wish I had done (and came close to doing with a friend) and admire the support of your parents. Loved your haircut (it’s always about the hair) and I continue to be amazed that we were all able to accomplish such daring feats without a cell phone! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Ahh, thanks so much Elisa! Your note made me feel so good. I’ve been inspired by all your photos of Paris and it always takes me back to my time alone there. I’m amazed by your recent trip to deepen your photography skills. I love that you continue to push yourself. Bravo!

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