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.
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.
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?
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