Traveling is one of my favorite things in the world. I love to explore new places, meet new people, eat local cuisine, and learn about different cultures and histories. If I had unlimited funds I would spend 90% of my time traveling and documenting my explorations with my camera.
When I graduated from college, the first thing I did was go to Ireland. For whatever reason, Ireland, with it’s green hills, majestic cliffs, colorful cottages, legends, and musical herritage, had caught my imagination from the time I was a child. So, my last few months of school I began planning my trip. Originally with a friend, then as a group tour, and finally as my own adventure.
My friend had to drop out, and while my mother, concerned about her youngest daughter traveling abroad for the first time, would have preferred I go with an organized tour, I wanted the freedom to explore what I wanted on my own schedule. I also wanted to be able to meet people from the communities, and not just other tourists in a big group. So I did my own research, sent inquiries to various small inns and B&B’s (I wanted a personal touch), bought my bus pass and went.
It was two weeks of pure delight. I met so many wonderful people, found myself stuck in a small village when I got the bus schedules confused, walked the Cliffs of Moher, and had my first (rather tentative) kiss with a fellow traveler I spent the day with on a whim.
I also discovered I’m a bit of a selfish traveler. While going with friends and family can be great fun, and sometimes you want to have a companion to share in those moments, I also prefer to wander and explore at my own pace, without having to worry about someone else’s timetable.
This first trip gave me the confidence to set out for Boston a couple years later to go to photography school. Another great adventure, and that year is still one of the best years of my life.
I moved to Seattle, and got a day job as a way for me to provide the basic comforts of ha small apartment, and to save up money for traveling. On the weekends I explored small coastal towns in Oregon and Washington, made a couple trips to California, and spent summer weekends at festivals and flea markets.
My next European trip, to Paris, was more than I had hoped for. Good food, wonderful people, and the added benefit of my professional photography training made it unforgettable. And then, for our 30th birthdays, I talked my cousin into spending a couple weeks in Italy with me, exploring Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast.
I always have an amazing time when I’m exploring and traveling. Not that everything always goes smoothly or perfectly, or that I’m always happy (blisters, allergy attacks, food poisoning, and street hustlers do not add to the enjoyment of a holiday), but I do feel that I am personally enriched by each experience, good or bad, and the overall whole is always positive.
So that’s why I travel. And why most of my most treasured moments are not in front of a huge monument (although one can’t negate the impact of seeing Notre Dame for the first time). My favorite memories tend to be the smaller experiences. Talking with fishermen as they reeled in their catch on the Mediterranean coast one evening, or walking along the Seine just before dawn and watching the pink light slowly creep across the Ile de la Cite. It’s those small moments of introspection when I gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the world and it’s people.