Hi guys, Siera here. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and reflecting on my past traveling experiences. I wanted to share with you a part of my story to help you understand how the desire to see the world comes about. As well as how it can shape you as a person. More specifically, about how my wanderlust came to be and how it’s made me into who I am today. I have said it before and will continue to say it again, but there are so many benefits from traveling and no matter who you are, you will take something away from exploring this glorious world.
How Wanderlust Took Over My Life
My first real traveling experience occurred in 2012 when I was 16 years old.
I took the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico on a missionary trip as soon as I heard about my cousin’s church organizing it. At this point, I had never left the Midwest before. I had no idea what to expect – I ended up spending a week working at a rehab facility, providing company and support to the residents. I would consider this to be a moment of several “firsts”.
Other than this being my first time far away from home, I think for the first time I knew I wanted to do something to help people. I also knew I wanted to see everything the world had to offer. It was my first taste of “independence” from my parents and going completely out of my comfort zone (I didn’t know anybody other than my one cousin who I would barely see).
Fast forward a year, and I was in Costa Rica on a community trip with my senior class. Again, without hesitation, I jumped on the opportunity. I spent a week there rebuilding a retaining cement wall at an elementary school. At the same time, I was living with a non-English speaking host family, separate from most of my peers. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed doing meaningful work, at the same time becoming accustomed to an entirely different culture.
Another year later and I had my first visit to Mexico. Wait a minute. Do you see a pattern here? I think that I belong in a Spanish speaking country, seriously. Unlike my first two experiences, however, this was for leisure (my graduation trip). Not quite the same concept, but was an experience nonetheless.
Most recently though, I traveled to Canada, and I loooved it. I usually cannot stand being cold, but I spent 4 days outside in 50-degree weather completely content. This probably doesn’t sound cold at all, but trust me when I say I never spend time outside if I’m even the slightest cold. I will turn around and go straight back inside.
Between Mexico and Canada, I traveled around the US to become more familiarized with “home”. I felt bad disregarding my own country and not knowing what else the United States had to offer. I traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C, and New York in 2015-2016.
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Now that I look back at the past 4 years, I realize everything that was important to me was my experiences! Nothing materialistic. I make it a constant mission to get by on as little as possible so that I can fund my traveling. And get this. It’s actually really easy to do! Once you make it a priority to do what you’re truly passionate about, not much can get in your way.
If you’re finding that you’re not saving enough to see the world, then something or things, are being prioritized more.
And that’s okay, but don’t ask me how I afford to travel because my answer will always be “priorities.”
As much as I have loved my experiences, I will admit to having some bad ones that could have easily discouraged me from ever traveling again.
When I was in Puerto Rico, I got sick. When I was in Costa Rica, I also got sick. As a result, I, unfortunately, missed out on some of the leisure activities.
During my Costa Rica trip, all of my money got stolen. I also broke out with a terrible heat rash, lost all of my photos on my camera, and ran into a pole, really hard.
I also have a tendency to miss the people I care about when I’m away.
Regardless of something almost always going wrong, I still love to travel.
I have learned many things as a result of traveling include: how to take care of myself, forgive people who have stolen from me, deal with being uncomfortable, make sacrifices, cope when feeling alone, adapt to unfamiliar places, people, and situations, and be self-disciplined with my finances. Most importantly though, I have learned to appreciate everything that does go right and let go of everything else.
I love how travel has shaped me and made me into a stronger more independent person. These are some (not necessarily all) of the reasons I think everyone needs to see the world. In some way or another, it will make you a better you.
I hope that by reading a small part of my wanderlust story, you’re given an idea of how traveling can benefit you as a person and are encouraged to get out of your comfort zone. My story is only one, and surely not as interesting as some. It’s still fascinating to look back at what has shaped you into the person you are though. If I failed to encourage you to see the world, I hope at the very least you’re encouraged to reflect on your own story and love who you are, while working towards the person you want to be.
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