Nothing will make you feel more alive than leaving the small boundaries that confine you inside your bubble of a world. I say that because we all get stuck inside the bubble, whether we live in a city, a farm, or small town USA. By nature, human beings prefer comfort.
As adults, it’s more likely you’ve left the nest at some point to explore the open horizon. Whether it was for work or pleasure, there’s a good chance you’ve had the opportunity to see a new city, state, or even a country that made you realize the world was far bigger than the place you go to rest your head at night. Traveling can set you free. It can open your mind. It can quite literally change the person you were before you left into a person you didn’t know existed. At any age, traveling can change the course of your life.
The first time I traveled without my parents was my freshman year in high school. My parents signed me up for a teen tour, which is essentially a traveling camp. For a month, myself, and 49 other teens traveled up and down the West Coast with 4 camp leaders, and a large, over-packed greyhound bus. Although we did pretend to be upset about the no underage drinking policy and the strict curfews in Vegas casinos (because apparently I love to gamble?), we all fell in love with each other, and every new city. I still remember how the ashy sand felt beneath my feet in Lake Tahoe, and how I thought my heart would stop in its freezing, icy cold waters. I remember the drive across the desert to get to Las Vegas, and staring at the other wide-eyed 15-year-old passengers, all of us unsure of what to expect, from one city to the next. I remember as I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, one boy said, “I don’t understand all of the hype.” We all laughed until we cried. Although I’m sure he was not the only one to ever feel that way.
I said good-bye to all 49 of those campers unaware of the impact they would have on my life. They made me less timid. They made me less afraid. They saved me from the rocky grounds of my home life, and became family within just four weeks. Without even knowing it, they encouraged me to travel abroad twice in college, two different summers. They left an imprint on my heart that I will carry with me throughout my entire life.
It’s a ripple effect, I like to think—the way in which one experience leads to the next. If you push yourself out of your comfort zone, even just a little, you may be surprised by what you see and who you meet. There’s no reason you should have to wait until you’re in your later 20s, 30s and even 40s to start seeing the world. You don’t have to travel across the ocean, or sign up for a teen summer camp. Just go somewhere, anywhere, for that matter. Pick a place you’ve never been, whether it’s 50 miles away, or across the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes, it takes years to fully understand how traveling has shaped you. Other times, you may realize a lesson or two right away. Nonetheless, you will be changed. Keep walking. Keep running. Keep on searching—there is never an expiration date.