Friday, May 24, 2013

What Travel Has Taught Me

I consider myself to be an independent person, but that wasn't always the case.  My teens and early twenties included a string of long-term relationships that lasted close to a decade.  When my last one ended in the Fall 2011, I decided it was time to get out of dodge for a while. 

My first stop was San Antonio to visit an old friend.  I came home after my weekend out west with a new perspective and a deep desire to see more....do more.  So I got a second job to fund my travels and set out on a plan to see the world....well, at least the country, for now.  Since then I've hiked in the Colorado Rockies and Hollywood Hills, listened to stories from an old Italian couple on the north end of Boston, watched a rodeo in Texas, and took in a show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. 

Have you ever heard the term "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer?"  I have never seen nor experienced anything truer in my life.  Travel amplifies your gratitude, broadens your horizon, and deepens your understanding of life and how people choose to live it.  I've compiled a few little tidbits of knowledge I've gathered along the way:

1) Some of the most beautiful places on Earth are right here in the good 'ol US of A. 
You don't need to fly across the pond to be awestruck by nature's beauty.  Sip on a glass of wine in Santa Barbara, drive through the hills of Virginia, or soak in the New York City skyline at night, and you will see how lucky we are to live in such a gorgeous and diverse country.



At the top of Runyon Canyon in Hollywood.

The coastline in Santa Monica, CA



2) There are 7 billion people in the world.  Get out and meet a few of them.
Sit in an airport and people watch for an hour.  The amount of people coming and going is almost overwhelming.  Where are they going?  Who are they going to see?  Through my own travels I have had the opportunity to meet people I never would have met had I stayed home doing the same old thing.  On my trip to Texas I met a nice, religious guy named Kyle, who throughout our friendship, has taught me the importance of faith and made me reevaluate my own religious beliefs.  He even flew me out to Texas a few months after we met and took me dancing and to a concert to see my favorite country artist.  He's now got me following A&M football too!  Hey now..I'll always be a buckeye at heart!  Simply put, go out there and meet people.  This rule applies to anyone anywhere, and the best thing is, you really don't have to travel to do so.  Everyone has something to teach you.  Allow yourself the opportunity to learn something new from a stranger.



Kyle and I at the Brantley Gilbert concert

3) How you live your life is vastly different from how others live theirs.
I was driving down 77S on my way to Charlotte last summer when a gas explosion blocked off a 40 mile stretch of the highway.  I was forced to get off and take the back roads of West Virgina for a good hour and a half.  I was not in much of a rush, so the scenic drive was a bit refreshing.  As I passed each house in what felt like the middle of nowhere, I got to thinking about how these people lived their lives, and how different it was from the life I had always known.  But what makes a life?  It's really simple.  If you have family, friends, love, and somewhere to keep you warm at night, you have a home.  You don't need the city lights or ocean views to have a fulfilling life. 

That afternoon I ate lunch with a local at a Subway near the WV/VA border.  He was the only other person in there, so why not?  He talked about how he was born and raised in West Virgina and would never move anywhere else.  I sense that a lot of people feel that way about their own hometowns.  I have since developed a deep infatuation for how people make their "home" and it has been at the forefront of all of my travels.  I got back on the road that day with a full belly and a new outlook.  How can you ask for a better day than that?              



Finally made it to NC! Hangin' with my best friend Lori

4) Life is about experiences, not things.
Super cliche, sure...but that 'ish is the truth!  There has yet to be a material possession that has made me as happy as a plane ticket to a new city.  Nothing can replicate that feeling.  My life has been deeply enriched with memories over the last few years.  I've reconnected with friends in California, had the joy of meeting my new niece in Charlotte, and cried with a childhood friend over life changing news in Charleston.  You can't recreate those moments.  Take away everything I have, but don't take away those times.



My girls and I in Morgantown, WV


Lori's bachelorette weekend in Nashville


Gettin' wild in Austin!
 5) And last but not least.....
Get to the airport early.  Get your rental car the night before you leave, not the morning of your trip.  Don't drink 18 cups of coffee before an 8 hour road trip.  Invest in an AUX hookup for your car, or you may die.  Or just be alone with your thoughts...that's always fun...and creepy.  Have a cocktail at an airport bar.  Hell, have two.  You can always pass out on the plane!  Keep cash on you as toll roads love to creep up on you.  Learn to drive like a road warrior!  Check out new restaurants on your layovers.  Never say no to getting out of town if you can afford it.  When you are old balls you will never wish that you stayed home more.  Don't be salty if you gain 5 pounds after every trip.  Who cares?! Those are happy pounds!  Travel alone...it's great, I promise!  Talk to the person sitting next to you on the plane.  I know a couple who are engaged from doing that.  Don't have the money to travel? Work for it.  I work 60 hours a week to fund all this stuff!  See. Experience. Live.


Cheers.
     

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