This is my first time participating in the Travel Link Up! July’s topic is to share your travel story.
I never planned on traveling extensively. As a kid I never dreamed about laying on beaches in Thailand or going on safaris in Africa. I always thought hostels were scary and adults without traditional careers were making a HUGE mistake. I had dreams of graduating college, getting a good job, and eventually owning a house on a huge plot of land somewhere in a southern state. Basically I wanted to live in a country song.
Then Freshman Year Spring Break happened. My school calls it “spring break”, but in reality it was the last week of February and a huge snow storm made us evacuate the school early, so my week break turned into almost two. This sounds lucky, but my school and home are only one hour apart so the snow storm also hit my house, but even harder.
So there I was, Spring Break 2015, unable to leave my house at all because of the piles of snow. I had nothing to do but toot around on the internet and read.
In my boredom I read a really cheesy love story about these two solo travellers meeting on a beach in Spain and then travelling around together for a few months, and of course they happened to be from the same town so they fell in love and yadda yadda yadda. The implausible love story isn’t what made me want to travel, but all of the descriptions of the places the two characters visited. It put the idea in my head that people actually CAN travel for an extended period of time, that people CAN travel by themselves, and that traveling really isn’t a “big deal”. Almost anyone can do it with a little bit of luck and a little bit of money.
This led me to googling “two month Europe trip itinerary”. Europe because nowhere else in the world interested me (yet). Two months because I was deadset on going to medical school, and two months is all I would have in between undergrad ending and medical school starting. That’s all the traveling I could allow myself, until I one day became a supercool neurologist or OBGYN and worked for Doctors Without Borders.
That innocent google search led me down the rabbit hole of travel blogs. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spent almost every second of that spring break reading people’s blogs, consuming everything I could.
The decision had already been made. I need to go travel. But after more and more reading, I quickly learn that just two months in Europe won’t even scratch the surface of what the world has to offer.
I need to go EVERYWHERE.
So I start looking into alternatives. I could take a gap year in between college and medical school, but with the way the MCAT falls and the application process, I really wouldn’t have that much time to travel. Also, med schools like it when you do something “productive” with your gap year. Flaking off to southeast Asia for a year is sadly not seen as productive by the corporate world. I found a medical school program where I could do two years in Brisbane, Australia and the other two years in America. But I couldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket and only apply to one medical school, and even then two years in Australia didn’t feel like enough.
Eventually I had to face my own priorities that I tried so hard to suppress: I don’t want to be a doctor. I want to travel. I could always go to medical school later in life, plenty of people do it, if I still felt that calling.
It wasn’t a sudden realization. It was almost exactly a full year between my initial google search and the breakdown during my Sophomore year that forced me to quit bullshitting myself and accept what I actually wanted out of life.
I’m still in the very beginning of my travel story. I spent five month in Glasgow, Scotland and I’m currently a little over a month into my central/eastern Europe trip. I have a few ideas for my post-college life and all of them include me moving out of Virginia, if not out of the country.
Lucky for me, my travel journey is just getting started.
What was your tipping point that turned you into a traveler?