Growing up, vacations only existed in the context of basketball tournaments, church conventions, and family reunions. The idea of going to another place, just because, was a foreign concept to me. That was something rich people did and I definitely wasn’t that. The idea of traveling always sounded good but seemed far out of my reach until my friend Susan invited me to go camping.
I’m actually not sure whose idea it was but Susan and I decided we would rent a cabin during Spring Break of our freshmen year of college and go “camping.” To our surprise, we learned that you had to be at least 21 years old to rent a cabin at this particular place so instead we got a hotel and had a fantastic weekend exploring Jupiter, FL. It was a small city but there was something freeing about being in a place away from home with no events scheduled, staying in accommodations we chose, with the freedom to do the activities we like to do. Our purpose was simply to exist; no demands or expectations. During that trip it felt like I’d been granted access to a whole new world and ever since then, I’ve always aimed to see and enjoy more of it.
Compared to a lot of people I know, I haven’t been a lot of places. I’ve been to 22 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Bahamas. Some trips were planned well in advance, others were spur of the moment, some better than others, some for the weekend, others just for the day, some far more expensive than others, all of them worth it. I’ve come back from several trips with a list of complaints about what could have made the experience better but I can’t say I’ve ever regretted going on any of them. I’m grateful that most of my travel has been for pleasure and I’ve been able to visit some of my favorite places multiple times. I’m grateful I was able to create memories with wonderful people and memories by myself. I learned my limit when it comes to traveling with others. I learned what kind of hotels best suit me. I learned what kind of activities I liked the best. I learned to stick to a budget (well I’m still learning this one). I learned about other cultures. I learned to enjoy the silence. I learned to slow down and take a moment to breathe. I learned to be more grateful for life.
The pandemic put a halt to achieving some of my traveling goals and honestly, even when I did go places after some restrictions were lifted, there was a lot of anxiety surrounding my travels (ask my younger sister about the plane ride to Pennsylvania). Eventually things will look and feel even more normal than they already do and I can get back to crossing places off my bucket list. If you don’t have a bucket list of places you want to go, I encourage you to create one. It doesn’t have to be far, you don’t have to stay away long, but just think of a few places you want to visit. You don’t have to go this year if you’re not comfortable doing so. Maybe you want to splurge on the hotel or the food so perhaps you need to save up. Whatever it takes, work towards existing somewhere else for a little while; no demands, no expectations.
I don’t usually need a reason to travel but I must say, the month of May has been long so go ahead and vacation me.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
My Travel List (some of these places have a permanent spot on the list no matter how many times I visit):
- Tulum, Mexico
- London, England
- South Africa
- Bora Bora
- Canada (again)
- Boston, MA
- Myrtle Beach, SC
- Seattle, WA (again)
- New Orleans, LA (again; one of my favorite cities)
- Anywhere in Hawaii (again; probably my favorite place)
- San Diego, CA (again)
- Puerto Rico (again)
- Panama City Beach, FL (again)
- Savannah, GA (again)
- Washington, D.C. (again)