WHERE DO I BEGIN…
My days of wanderlust start at a young age. From make believe explorations in nearby forest preserves to fantasizing trips to exotic worlds.
Growing up in my family, traveling meant roadtrips. We’d visit my grandparents in Wisconsin and play on 60 acres of woodlands, prairies, ponds, and trails. 2 day trips in the car to Florida to see our other grandparents and visit beaches and Disney World. Sometimes Michigan or Indiana, even Ohio, but never too far and never out of the country. My brothers and I played sports. All of them. This took up most of our weekends and summers. After my parents divorced, we traveled less. My brothers and I hit that adolescent period where we could care less about spending time with our family and would be downright miserable to our parents. After high school, I took off for Missouri to attend University where my dreams of traveling begin to grow. I imagined myself in Paris sipping champagne, speaking French or lost in London on the tube, falling in love with the British accent. My senior year, I decided to do something about it. I spent days planning an extra semester that summer in London to finish my second minor [TAM: Textiles and Apparel Management] and intern at a fashion company. After sorting out my financials, I realized I needed help. Using excel, I made a detailed spreadsheet of what I had and needed for this trip to happen and I sent it off to my parents hoping they could co-sign a small loan. My grades were exceptional, I was working two jobs to support myself, and I felt like I deserved it.
I was quickly shot down. And my heart was broken.
Then my best friend at the time and I made plans to backpack across Europe once we graduated. Then she got a boyfriend and our relationship drifted apart.
I moved to Chicago in pursuit of a career pushing my dream on the back burner. After years of struggling to find work in a diminishing economy, I landed an Office Manager role that I grew to enjoy. More the people, than the job, but hey I was finally at the bottom rung of that tall, tall ladder everyone seems to want to climb. A year later, I got that itch again. I wanted out. I ached for adventure. I didn’t want to spend my best years behind a big desk without a window to the outside. I wanted a passport full of exotic countries and a trip that would take me far, far away from this corporate rat race I realized I didn’t want to be in.
January 2012, I chatted with my coworker, Jessie about my wanderlust desires. “Maybe I should just go WOOF in Europe, save some cash and tour the continent.” And she replied something along the lines of “well my sister and I are going to India then plan to travel around Europe,” my ears perked up. She went on to explain this ashram they’d be attending to study yoga and talked about hiking and backpacking afterwards. That night I went home dreaming about their trip. The next day I texted Jessie if I could join them. It was crazy. I barely knew Jessie and I had never met her sister nor did I know a thing about India or if I even wanted to travel there. I mean, I liked yoga and I could enjoy learning more? Why not? I thought, let’s dive in. And dive in, I did. I booked my one-way flight to Delhi and reserved a spot in the yoga teacher training program. I couldn’t even believe myself when I spoke to my friends or family about the trip. See I live for spontaneity, but this was a whole new level for me.
June 2012, I kissed my family and friends goodbye and boarded my plane. I was terrified, anxious, excited, and nervous all rolled up into one. People warned me, envied me, and cheered me on. When I first stepped into the hot, India air, I thought holy mother of **** what the hell did I get myself into, but I took a deep breath, smiled, and let the world swallow me whole.
Those next five months, I fell in love. In love with traveling. In love with India. In love with the backpacker lifestyle. And in love with the incredible people I met along the way. My life has changed in a major way since the day I decided to take my wanderlust dreams into my own hands and I wouldn’t change it for the world [pun intended]. Three years later, 20 something countries later, I’m now living in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I love every single minute of my life. Traveling is possible. For anyone, in any situation. Even if it’s just for a few weeks, let your wanderlust heart lead you to new adventures across this magnificent world we are so lucky to live in.
Check out my other posts for inspiration, tips, and advice, and always feel free to comment with questions. I’m MORE THAN HAPPY to help.
love and light,
And if you want to read more about why you should travel, check out this journal post I wrote while traveling alone in Darjeeling, India :
(11.9.12) It’s 10pm, a Friday night and I’m wide awake trapped in my single, bathroom-less room. I’m trapped because this entire city shuts down by 9pm including my guest house. Although I’d prefer my freedom of deciding when I want to go home, there isn’t really anywhere else to be. So as I lay here trying to get my body on a different sleep schedule, I can’t stop my brain from thinking about a conversation I had with a British friend on the top of our guest house in Varanasi and I feel like sharing my rant… Traveling has always been a dream of mine as well as many of my friends. Before I went on this trip so many close friends, work friends, people I barely knew were saying “I’m so jealous of you Tor, I wish I could do that.” And I’d always reply “you can,” and from there it’d go yea my job, my career, my rent, my blah blah blah. I know I can’t force anyone to actually book a ticket out of the American bubble we live in, but I hope to Shiva, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, whoever, I can motivate you to. In the past five months, I have learned more than my four years at Mizzou. I was terrified that I was making the wrong choice to quit my uninspiring job and leave my oh so perfect world I made myself in Chicago. What if I can’t get a job again, what will companies think of me for going off to travel, what if this trip just delays my “career” and I’m only set back farther. What if. All these thoughts make me realize this is how our society wants us to think. When you graduate college you MUST get a job even if you hate it, you MUST put your time to work up that corporate ladder. Oh and don’t forget about savings because one day you’ll need to put money down on a house so you can forever be stuck in a mortgage. And yea you can have 2 weeks of vacation, but don’t use them all at once. Oh you want to travel? Well in 10 years maybe you’ll have a whole month of vacation but you probably still won’t get to use them all at once. For most people in the corporate world this is your life. Most European countries get 4-6weeks!! I’m sad how many times I get “you’re the first American I met” or “yea you don’t find too many of you guys here, you all stay in your country and don’t you have some pathetic % of how many people own passports?” And I reply “yea, I was one until this past February.” When they ask what I do, I explain what I did and they can’t believe the lack of vacation we’re allotted. It just wants me to pick up our entire country and shake them and scream there is a whole world out there go out and see it. I can’t say every American is like this and I can’t say much because one year ago I was one and I’ve only just begun my journey, but I’ve fallen in love with this country that everybody thought I was crazy to visit and I just want everyone to experience it. So if you get anything from this, please realize that the other side of the world isn’t so far away. And it really isn’t scary. I mean sometimes I don’t love the squat toilets, the bucket showers, the wild dogs howling and fighting all night (currently going on) but I promise the most exhilarating experiences are when you’re out of your comfort zone. A job’s just a job but your life is YOUR life and you’ve only got one. If traveling is something you’ve desired forever like me then stop making excuses and figure out how to do it. I promise once you leave the country the world will open up to you and you’ll realize anything is possible. When I told my older brother I was saving to travel, his response was “so you’re just gonna go and waste all that money you made.” No brother, I’m going to live, and that I do. End rant. Sweet dreams, Tor