It’s hard to say when I got bit by the travel bug. I’m fortunate enough to have spent most summers aboard a plane as my folks liked to travel with us cool kids in tow. Spending summers in the U.S. brings back a flood of fond memories of us driving from LA to Vegas, and my siblings and me falling asleep in the car in the early hours of the evening only to be awakened at midnight by the glowing lights of Sin City. The experience was always nothing short of magical. I also recall the songs I heard on the radio as the sun would set behind us on the drive back to LA. I’ll always hold those memories close.
My sojourns peaked in college and thereafter as my desire to see more of the world and meet new people continued to burn with every plane ticket that I booked and each airport that I came through. It’s taken a back seat in recent years for a number of reasons though. Nonetheless, I just got in from a trip to Palawan and I’m so glad I went.
It’s jaunts like that that remind me of why I fell in love with travelling in the first place. I believe that life isn’t worth living if we’re not always trying to make ourselves better with every step. And travelling… it does that for me. It makes me a better person. The cold, hard truth about travelling is that half of the time, it’s not nearly as glamorous as people make it out to be. There’s just too many things that can go wrong in the process. The forgotten passport, the ridiculous queues at security check, missing a flight, falling ill, leaving something valuable at the hotel, getting your stuff stolen, etc, etc.
But the flip side of that is that despite these inconveniences that occasionally arise, I secretly love the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen. I embrace the revelation that control is an illusion (it just makes life simpler). I relish the fact that I’m pushed out of my comfort zone and it’s my decision alone as to whether I’m gonna enjoy the ride or not. Why? Because it makes me better. It keeps me from becoming a brat who foolishly and selfishly believes that everything is going to go my way. It’s not. The universe doesn’t revolve around me and I shouldn’t expect it to. Travelling helps me to grow up and stretch my big girl muscles.
I also love that I get to see beautiful places that I didn’t even know existed. I think that it’s important to be reminded of how big the world is and how small we are in comparison to it. It’s also just so good to get away from the daily grind and relax, reset and recalibrate my senses. I’m so grateful and I’ll say it again as I’ve said it before: holidays are a blessing. I’m fully aware that to some people, being on vacation is a mere pipe dream that they pray about, dream of, and wish for. So I don’t take it for granted.
But more than all of the above… it’s about the people that I meet along the way. On this trip, I had my best buddy with me and we met some pretty amazing people that reminded me of why I fell in love with travelling in the first place. In meeting different people of varying ages that come from diverse walks of life, my mind is opened, my perspective broadened, and I am made a better person than I was than when I first stepped foot on the foreign land.
I love that I got to meet people with beliefs that matched my own, and I love that I also got to know people whose philosophies couldn’t possibly be further from mine. Travelling keeps me humble as I’m reminded that I don’t know everything, that I really haven’t seen anything yet, and most valuable of all, that we’re all really just the same inside no matter how different we look on the outside or how distinct our beliefs are from one another. Travelling pushes me to be respectful of other people’s backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. Just because something is different than what I know, that doesn’t make it wrong or invalid. And I can only pray for many more opportunities to travel so that I never forget any of this. And no matter where I go, I hope to remember to pack these two essentials as advised by one of the wisest women that I know:
That being said, never stop exploring! XXP
Written by: Pauline Yao