A Penchant for Travel

Some girls splurge on expensive handbags. Some girls live for their designer shoe collections. I prefer to spend my hard-earned money on travel.

I’m not declaring I dislike pretty shoes and I’m not saying I don’t occasionally buy a nice bag…nor am I putting down the women who do. I’m simply saying that we all have our priorities and those priorities can vary greatly. I, for one, have TRAVEL written at the top of my list, in bold letters, all caps.

Around this time last year, I was gearing up for a sizeable chunk of time outside the country. With a little nostalgia now setting in, I’m recalling the time leading up to my departure: Cutting back on nightly dinners and almost-daily cocktails (which ended up benefiting both my bank account and my health…double score). Minimizing nonessential purchases (Do I really need another pencil skirt?). Downgrading my cable package. General, all-around money-saving in preparation for the anticipated (dreaded?) lack of a paycheck.

I’m not a trust-fund baby whose parents gift her with a trip to the Swiss Alps, and I’m not a top-level executive who vacations on the French Riviera with supermodels. (Seriously though, how fun would that be?) I fund myself. It means I opt to rent a room in a house, or rent an apartment with my travel buddies, rather than staying in a 5-star hotel. It also means I meet real people and, often, hang out with locals. Which often means I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone. But it’s in pushing out beyond our boundaries (within reason) that we grow and find new sources of inspiration.

4bookYou hear many mixed opinions for many different cities; and while you shouldn’t travel recklessly, you also shouldn’t let minor negative reviews deter you from going somewhere. For instance, pickpockets and gypsies are notorious in Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, and Manila. Had I let that prevent me from spending time in these cities, I wouldn’t have made all the vivid memories that will stay with me forever. (Travel smart: Be aware of your surroundings, watch your belongings, and don’t dress ostentatiously.) I’ve heard people say that Naples is a place to avoid, and this belief isn’t entirely unfounded due to the city’s high crime rate; but had I avoided it entirely, I’d never have had the experience that is Napoli. Likewise, I’ve read that Seville can be unpleasantly noisy during the midnight hours; I think it can also be brimming with life, that the revelry is part of what gives it character. And in my opinion, there is plenty of nighttime tranquility to be found in Sevilla.

So go on an adventure. Make your own memories. If you’re already a traveler, share your stories! If you’d like to be a traveler, what are you waiting for? Explore a city under starlight. Try a local delicacy or a cooking class. Learn a language. Practice the local customs. Find romance. Find yourself.

After rambling this far, I’ve concluded this: I want to be the kind of grandmother who regales her grandchildren with exotic stories and grand adventures. I want to be the kind of mother who inspires her children to dream and see the world. The kind of daughter who does her mother proud by sharing her heritage with other cultures. The kind of friend who shows her more timid peers that it’s OK to take a few risks and take a leap of faith. So, I travel on. I invest in experiences. Traveling…it makes me happy. And those happy memories make me that much richer.