Surprisingly enough, I never left the United States until the summer after my freshman year of college. I realize that many people never leave the country during their whole life but I yearned to travel since as long as I can remember. So I guess it’s only really surprising if you know me and know how I’ve spent the past few years of my life. Who knows how I ever got it into my head that I had to travel because my parents never traveled internationally while I was growing up. I mean, my dad traveled around Europe when he was in his twenties and was just kind of over traveling by the time he met my mom. Poor lady, she wanted to travel so much. To go to Paris, visit Spain and Italy, travel around England, but Dad wasn’t interested so she never got to go. I guess because Dad wasn’t interested we just never went anywhere out of the States. Not even Canada or Mexico.
I finally got my first taste of international travel at age nineteen, when I manipulated the use of my college fund by taking a 3 week class about the European Union in Western Europe. All and all, not really what I was hoping to get out of the trip (I mean who wants to listen to lectures for eight hours a day when they’re in Paris for the first time?) but a good starting point. From that trip on I gradually worked myself up to real traveling. The type that takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to do things you never thought you’d be able to do. I got good at manipulating the use of my college fund by taking another three week class in South Africa and then studying abroad in Beijing. After college was over, I was on my own when it came to funding my trips. I spent four months working in a posh dance club in Edinburgh where I took several side trips to Spain, Morocco, and England. Then I saved money working at a ski resort in Montana so that I could backpack for four months around South America by myself. Then I was poor again and had a very unglamorous stint working at a department store and living at home. Still poor, I flew to Hawaii with my frequent flier miles and worked on an organic farm for a few months and then ...
(click to read the complete report)
Photo: Women painting their house, Himachal Pradesh
Courtesy of Beatrice Velarde (www.beatricevelarde.com)