I’m not really sure when I became a “traveler.”
I just know that, for a really long time, I’ve enjoyed traveling. Flying is, to this day, one of the only activities that takes place five-plus feet off the ground that I actually really enjoy without freaking out. I could sit behind the wheel of a car for hours at a time, even longer in the passenger seat. I could go for ages traipsing across the country like a gypsy, not really having any single bed to call “my own.” I could just keep going.
With just a little over a week before I embark on the longest solo drive of my traveling career, before I move into a house I’ve never seen in a town I’ve never set foot in, the reality of things starts to set in. Am I really ready to go? Why not wait? Wait for what, exactly? What if this happens, or that? What if I’m not prepared? What if I don’t like it where I go?
You can go for ages asking what ifs about travel – but the thing is, whether it’s for good or a vacation or just a trip to the grocery store… you have to just… go. The first time you put something off, it’s always for a reason. Not enough money, no time, bad weather, something. But what about after that? When do the reasons become petty excuses?
As more and more people have found out what I’m doing – dropping everything to go to a new state, my job, leaving my family, my poor cat who’ll have to live with my parents for awhile, leaving with only what will fit in my car – I get a lot of comments along the lines of, “You’re so lucky that you can do this. I wish I could just get up and leave.” Usually I respond with “I know, I’m very fortunate,” but…no. I’m not. I just decided to, I didn’t back down. I’m not going to back down. I’m going to just go. Anyone can do whatever they want – college isn’t mandatory, working a normal job isn’t mandatory. As long as you can take care of yourself and don’t hurt those around you, who’s to stop you from exploring the world?
As a child, I used to dream of walking the streets of Paris or exploring the pyramids of Egypt. I used to think that would be the kind of culture shock I needed – that would be exploring. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, since graduating high school and kind of doing things “my” way; it’s that you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to experience a culture different than your own. Culture Shock can be spending a semester at a Historically Black University with only a handful of other white students1, or spending a weekend on a farm where everything is solar powered and all the food is organic. This time, for me, it’s moving up north after 22 years of living in the heart of the south. It’s going to be a completely different experience.
The world is what you make of it. There’s no black or white, nothing you should or shouldn’t do. If the other side of the country is calling your name, just pack your things and go. I want to have stories to tell, I want to look back and see that my life has been worth living. If you live in the same spot your whole life, know the same people your whole life, do the same things your whole life and never set foot outside of your little world…how will you ever understand the rest of the world?
You never know what’s waiting for you out there. The love of your life, the perfect job, some sort of personal paradise. Stop wondering, and just get your things and go.