I used to be quite the avid traveler. I travelled to five continents (North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia) before I even finished college. But I had never been to California. It dawned on me when I was about 23 how much money I’d spent leaving the country without ever having exhausted the travel opportunities within the Americas. Since then I’ve made a point to get out of Louisiana at least four times a year.
I grew up in North America, no cool story about my travels TO North America. Nor are there any cool stories about my travel WITHIN North America for the first half of my life. To offer perspective, I had left Louisiana plenty of times in my twenties, but only to leave the country.
I went to South America when I was 20 and there was a January term study trip to Ecuador. I honestly don’t even remember the *premise* of the educational part of the trip. It was pretty much just a three-week party for which I got some art credits.
Asia was even less planned out. I was dating a Japanese-American woman for about two months when her grandmother in Kyoto passed away. She very weepily asked me to accompany her to the funeral and while my brain was screaming TOO EARLY TOO EARLY, I obliged and we had a terrible time. Turns out, travelling with a new significant other can be very challenging, especially if there’s going through some very loud and dramatic mourning about a woman they’ve (nor you’ve) ever actually met.
I was just about to graduate from college when my roommate decided he was going to spend the summer in Australia. I didn’t have a job lined up yet, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I was already tens of thousands of dollars in student debt so I figured…. now or never. We rented a little rv van/bus thing and drove around the country for about three months having the best time. It was the best, freest, happiest time of my life. Paying off those loans – still to this day – feels very worth it.