I’m often asked by people how it is that I travel so much. The short answer is that I don’t. I’m not independently rich and I didn’t pick a profession that is known for big paychecks. Most of my days are spent working at a job that may or may not include weekends or regular hours. The only time I consistently post on social media is when I’m away from the mundane so naturally it appears that I go somewhere all the time. I was the girl who always wanted to travel growing up. I loved road trips and seeing new places. When my dad was on business trips he took the whole family along and we went all over the Southeast tagging behind him. I remember as a little girl always being fascinated by aviation. My first plane trip was when I was 17 years old and I was hooked. Traveling solo happened naturally when I took a leap of faith and decided to move across the country from Alabama to Denver. I was a senior in college and took a few days off to fly out and scope out the land. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned the importance of seeing new places. The world that we live in is progressively getting worse and sometimes you have to remind yourself that everything isn’t all bad all the time. Even if it’s just for a little bit. I’m due for another vacation soon and it can’t come fast enough.
This past week I had a chance to do one of my favorite things in the world–vacation. I honestly don’t know how people live life without taking a break from everything and recharging. There’s nothing like it in the world and as someone who tends to internalize everything, it’s good to take a break. For the first time in my life I took a cruise and it was amazing. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to sleeping to the rocking of the ship and the sounds of the waves from your open balcony. From the unlimited drinks to the cute guy I met, to swimming with dolphins, to snorkeling for the first time, the trip was a raging success. I’ll definitely be cruising somewhere again soon. I don’t usually post pictures but I’ll make an exception. Best trip of 2016!
Recently I had the opportunity to take a few days off from work and go somewhere new. This year has been primarily spent in my cubicle so it was nice to have a change in scenery that did not include a view of the parking lot from my third floor window. Needless to say, instead of the usual vacation that included a hotel, rental car, and subsequent daily adventures, I went to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Upon arrival someone took our bags and we met our personal concierge who was our designated contact person. From carrying our bags to a third floor suite to picking up a dropped fork within seconds at the buffet, the service was amazing. It’s not often that you have daily housekeepers who actually CLEAN, unlimited food (and top shelf drinks) along with frequent phone calls inquiring if you need anything. It was just really nice. While I wasn’t able to FULLY relax because I was spending too much time contemplating my life, it was nice to only have to decide between spending time at the pool or beach. After that experience I have to say that my vacation expectations have been raised and it will be hard to top the all-inclusive experience. After all, after never having to lift a finger for a week, who would want to go back to anything else?
Growing up my siblings and I would make fairly frequent trips with our parents to my grandparent’s house up North. It was a drive usually done in the dead of night from Alabama or Georgia to Michigan. My grandparent’s house was always a welcome sight after 13 to 16 hours in a car. The great thing about the house was that it was the same one that my mother and her siblings had grown up in. It was very spacious with five bedrooms, three baths, and two kitchens. There was plenty of room for everyone and we never felt crowded. One thing that I specifically remember was the plush carpet. To this day I have never seen carpet so comfortable that you could easily fall asleep after laying on it for a few minutes. Often times these trips included my cousins. We would play outside on the playground in the summer and run around in the snow in the winter. My grandparent’s house became a second home of sorts. The great thing was that all 17 people in my extended family could stay in the same house comfortably without feeling cramped. When my grandfather died we all stayed in the house for week with additional people coming to crash for a few nights. While it was a sad occasion it was also nice having everyone in the same place for an extended period of time and since that time it hasn’t happened. I think having a family home is a great thing and as someone who likes a combination of stability and flexibility there’s a certain benefit to having someplace you can call home regardless of where you are in the world. It’s the best of both worlds without feeling confined to one geographical area.
When I was younger my family used to make yearly excursions to Florida. We would enjoy the sun, shop and go to amusement parks. While I’ve never had a fear of heights, I’ve never liked the idea of falling. One thing about the amusement parks is that when we first arrived I would immediately get a game plan in place that would allow me to experience all the biggest rides in the most time efficient way. I would wait in line for hours with my dad and then listen to the instructions, hop in and then make sure that I was securely strapped in. Without fail, as soon as the roller coaster started ascending the first big hill or drop from the height, I would regret it. I would sit back and watch the sky get closer and closer while the people on the ground watching got smaller and smaller. We would creep to the top of the seemingly endless hill and then the coaster would stop for a few moments. The view from the top was gorgeous. You could always see for miles around. It was at this point that my anxiety levels skyrocketed because I realized that there was only one way down. That way did not include a soft and gentle ride to the ground. From the initial drop until the time that the coaster pulled back into the origination point my eyes would be squeezed shut. I would grit my teeth, plant my feed and wish that I had never gotten on the ride. The very minute the ride ended I would be ready to do it again. Life happens whether we like it or not. While we don’t choose to be born, we get to decide to stay alive. The thing about the roller coaster is that we don’t know what’s around the next bend. A quick turn can mean a hill ahead or a drop. There are very high highs and then low (or lower) lows. There are times where you have to grit your teeth and remember that everything isn’t permanent. That while things can change for the worse in the blink of an eye, circumstances can change for the better in that exact same period of time. I think it’s about keeping the end in mind and being able to live with the fact that you did your best and don’t have any regrets. You handled adversity with grace and courage and didn’t let the opinions of others sway you from your goals and purpose. Because life is a roller coaster and we all have to get off at some point.
This week has been one of reflection. It’s not that I don’t usually reflect because that’s definitely not the case. As a classic overanalyzer (probably not a word), I have an abundance of reflecting and planning thoughts at the same time. One thing I remembered today is that I promised someone that I would give them the link to this blog but then I thought about how it could possibly skew their perception and decided to postpone it until a later date. After all, I am searchable and if they really wanted to find out beforehand they could. But I digress. I think I have found the perfect way to not get over jetlag. Travel 8 hours back (in timezones), hop off the plane and then immediately start a 72 hour night shift work week. It’s practically fail proof. I was recently in France for some school obligations and also some fun and I must say that it was a raging success. I definitely should have stayed longer than a week but it was a quick trip. After my wonderful adventure last summer, I wanted to try more international travel this year. Unfortunately this meant that I had to schedule most trips in the last six months of the year but as the year is coming to a close, it’s nice to know that there are a still a few places on my schedule. Outside of my school obligations that included sitting in various seminars during the day, I had the chance to explore some of Paris with a few friends who I (ironically) met in Spain. The fact that I was in the city last summer was nice because I had the chance to enjoy the experience a bit more without the need to take a picture of every single thing related to French culture or food. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time I was there and the food was exquisite. One very nice thing about the trip was that I actually had the opportunity to relax. For the longest time I thought that I just couldn’t relax but I discovered that I just have to go overseas to do it (go figure). The combination of good conversation, good wine, great friends, and an environment thousands of miles away from obligations was a wonderful experience and was just what the doctor ordered. I haven’t been that relaxed in years. Aside from one other thing, the highlight of my experience was traveling to Normandy and seeing some of the historic sites from WWII. We went to the American Cemetery and it was so sobering to see all the white crosses lined up of people who died at such a young age fighting to liberate a country that wasn’t their own. It felt overwhelming to think of all the parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles who had tearful goodbyes to their loved one who they would never see again because they died halfway across the world. Needless to say, seeing the beaches and the plaques and the American flags flying high was pretty thought provoking and reminded me of all the things that I sometimes take for granted. Driving on narrow roads and seeing the beautiful countryside was also memorable. It was the best trip I’ve taken this year and well worth the jet lag and sleepless nights. Can’t wait to go somewhere else.