Would you believe that up until my 18th birthday, I had only been on a plane one time in my life? That first time in the sky was when my parents brought my sister and I to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was April of 1990 and I was three and a half years old. I remember crying hysterically on some sort of virtual reality ride. I remember seeing Mickey and Minnie’s house with their laundry hanging on the clothesline. I remember getting Pluto’s autograph and watching fireworks over Epcot from our hotel balcony. I don’t remember anything about the flights.
Would you believe that the 1st time I set foot outside the United States was less than four years ago? I was 27 years old and I was feeling the itch to finally experience what it was like to visit another country. Most of my 20’s up until that point were focused on digging myself out of student loan debt and hanging with friends and my girlfriend while living at home with my parents. I always wanted to travel, but I wasn’t ready.
Fast forward to 2013, my loans were paid in full and I was debt free. My girlfriend was now my ex-girlfriend. When reaching out to my friends to see who was interesting in planning a trip to Europe I was met with a lot less enthusiasm and desire than I had hoped for. It was apparent at the time that I was alone. I remember feeling frustrated. I also remember feeling that I shouldn’t forget about my travel aspirations just because my friends would not be joining me. You can still travel even if you don’t have a familiar face with you, I thought.
A few days later one of my colleagues at the office announced that she was quitting her job, subletting her apartment in Harlem and travelling the world with her husband for a year. My mind was blown. After speaking with her and picking her brain a bit, I realized I needed to book my flight to Europe, no matter how scary it might be to travel to a foreign country for the first time and to do it alone, no less.
The very next day I booked a flight to Amsterdam. The adrenaline I had flowing through my body from simply clicking that “submit” button on the booking site was something I never felt before. Now it’s become a feeling I am fairly familiar with, and I still experience it with every new journey booked.
A few weeks later my best friend Nick decided he was in and booked his flight to join me. This would be our first of many travel journeys together, and today we are the Bros Around the Globe you’ve come to know and love!
The 10 days we spent in Amsterdam changed my life, and I’m pretty sure Nick’s as well. Personally, I was left with a feeling of how big the world really was, and how I had seen such a small portion of it up until that point in my life.
The next year a trip to Moab, Utah changed my life. In 2015, adventures in Hawaii and a journey to Thailand had a huge impact on my life. Last year, the experiences I had in Scandinavia made me view life in an entirely new way. All of these travels, as well as others unmentioned, have led me to this point…8 weeks away from quitting my job and leaving my comfortable, but routine life to travel around the world long term.
The truth is, renting a car and exploring Iceland made returning to the cubicle and excel spreadsheets in Midtown Manhattan extremely difficult. After meeting people in Thailand with very little to their names in terms of physical possessions or monetary wealth, yet the biggest smiles on their faces and happiness in their hearts, I experienced a paradigm shift. I began to appreciate everything about my life a bit more, while I also began to question what exactly defined happiness and success. Perhaps the definitions didn’t involve promotions, steady bumps in salary and keeping up with the Joneses, all messages that are highly pushed in American society, particularly where I work in New York City. I started to value time a bit more in relation to how I valued money.
With each travel experience I have learned and grown as an individual. I have become more understanding and I have become more understood by others. I have opened my mind to new realities that are not necessarily right or wrong, just different. My faith in humanity has become stronger with each act of kindness from a complete stranger. Any preconceptions I may have had have been shattered.
All in all, although I now consider myself a world traveller, and a novice at best, I am content in knowing I will never be an expert. Because no one is truly ever an expert world traveller. Even if you’ve been to every country in the world, there is always more to learn. Destinations, cultures and peoples are all constantly changing over time. No two travel experiences will ever be the same.
I simply seek to continue travelling, exploring and discovering, so that I will continue to learn, continue to grow, and continue to understand.
That is what travel is all about.