I was supposed to be in Europe right now. At least, that’s where I thought I would be on this November 22nd, back when I scribbled all those plans and lists into my journal over the summer. Amidst the doodles in the margins are the remnants of the fall I thought I would be having: Spain for a few weeks, a bop on over to France, perhaps a quick jaunt to Italy or Scotland and, hey! Why not a stay in Norway?
My fixation on travel is nothing new, though it has taken on a new intensity in the months since graduation. With college behind me, I finally feel free to spend my time and money on the one thing I crave above all else. I can go anywhere, at any time, no longer burdened by the academic calendar. And after my senior year internship at a travel publication, I feel as though travel could be more than my passion– it could be my professional path, too.
What better feeling is there to realize that your passion could become your career? It’s not just the passion for travel, mind, but the love of writing and photography as well. I’ve nurtured this trio of hobbies and interests for so long, always keeping them separate from any plans I could design for my professional future. I want to be fulfilled by my work, but for me that feeling of fulfillment comes from the autonomy to create my own art, and to create it for my own ends. Still, I took plenty of time to figure that out, and I do mean plenty. I’ve spent countless months searching for my own cause, and more importantly seeking my own true voice to speak about things I care most about. I need something to say, something to take pictures of and write about and share with the world. I need a reason to go places, a motivation for my travels beyond simple tourism.
For me, the desire to travel goes beyond a checklist of places I’d like to visit in my lifetime. When you love travel as I do, what you truly love is motion. You love the comings and the goings. You chase change. It’s the thrill of sunrises unveiling brand-new horizons; it’s the sensation of timelessness as you soar through a starry night sky, thousands of feet above the ground ; it’s the exhilaration and adrenaline and awe of each and every new detail you discover in a foreign land. As I’ve become a more seasoned traveler, I’ve slowly come to understand that the aspects of travel I love the most are the ones that stay constant, no matter the destination. You don’t need to fly across an ocean to discover a new horizon, or traverse a continent to explore the intricacies of your location. Those moments, the truly meaningful ones, can be found every day, anywhere you choose to see them.
When I pinned my hopes for a fall full of travel on that European expedition, I didn’t realize that what I was really seeking could be found much closer to home. A few months spent in Europe would no doubt have been lovely, but they would have been a stale prize compared to the insight I have gained as a local adventurer. I spent the fall traveling around New England, exploring my own state and region, learning how to see the extraordinary in the familiar. And you know what? More than the most exciting and exotic trip could ever have made me, I’m a better traveler for it.