Generally speaking, there tend to be four groups of thinkers in regards to traveling the world. Some, perfectly content with what they have in life at home, feel no draw to leave familiarity and comfort. Some say, “some day,” and believe that one day in the future they will fulfill their dreams of wanderlust. Some have no choice in the matter and struggle to travel, despite a strong desire. The fourth group heeds the call to explore, which to them cannot be ignored or put off. They need to go now.
These are extremely general descriptions of groups of thought and by no means are all encompassing of the people of the world. I find myself to be in a hybrid group. My bucket list continues to grow every day and I am always saving for my next adventure. I don’t want to leave home for the first time to see the Eiffel Tower or the Japanese cherry blossoms in retirement after my children finish higher education. I want to still be exploring at that age after many decades of adventures. I want to sleep in hostels with other twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, comparing and contrasting our cultures and discussing what the future may hold. I want to sleep beneath the stars on various continents during several decades of my life.
Exposing myself to new cultures and world views at the beginning of my life has molded me into something entirely different than if I had stayed in my hometown for the first twenty years of my life. My love and appreciation for my country continues to grow in different ways. On the other hand, as I meet more people, they help me question some aspects of my home that I have grown numb or used to. I don’t want that personal growth to end. There will never be an age when I am satisfied with the amount of the world I have seen.
Some people will preach that you must travel now because you’re young. Others will claim you should establish yourself in the professional world for a few years first. Many believe you should wait until you have lived an entire life, cultivated a career, and built a family. I say that you should start now and never stop. Save every day for a flight to Chile. Take weekend trips to a nearby town. Explore your own backyard. Take time off and backpack by yourself for three months on the other side of the world. Travel with yourself, your parents, your significant other, and your kids. Ask the shop owner about herself and the area. Strike up conversation with the bartender. Learn new languages. That’s my plan.
I will travel both now and later. I will continue to fall in love with strangers, become friends with them, and carry their memories with me. I will never stop growing and learning about our world and myself.