The stress of packing, the frustration of planning and the hassle of planes can make travel seem daunting and simply not worth it. But after two weeks in Los Angeles, I gained a new appreciation for travel and fell in love with the beauty of it.
Hundreds of miles away from home, I gained perspective. After closing a big chapter in my life and looking on to the next steps, I actually found it to be a positive thing to get away from home, friends and family. Coming into the trip with anxious thoughts about the future, I was in need of some healing and encouragement. I didn’t know a single soul when I left for my conference, but I found that I wasn’t alone in my anxieties. Travel teaches us that our experiences may be unique to us, but our feelings don’t have to alienate us.
The green. Moolah. Dough. Time is money—we all know that. And when it comes to travel, you probably feel this truth quite easily. But the beauty of travel is that it encourages you to make the most of your time. While I was in L.A. for a conference for several weeks, I only had two days to really explore the city. With only 48 hours, each minute is precious. And with a trip to the urgent care on the second day (darn you, eye infection), I felt the time crunch. I could’ve let this setback ruin my day as it cut 3 hours of valuable sunshine out of my day. Even though I didn’t get to everything I wanted to do, I chose to look on the bright side: there’s a reason to go back!
They clean up your stomach bug puke at 2 a.m. And buy nail polish for you just because. They treat you to your favorite restaurant yet they drive you bonkers with their snoring and obnoxiously loud chewing. Ahh, family. There’s definitely something to say for the value of family. And friends are good for letting you vent about your family and just experiencing life together. But travel allows you to surround yourself with strangers. And the beautiful thing about strangers is that you have nothing to lose. Even if you open up to them and share your struggles and questions, you don’t have to worry about awkward family dinners or a Friday night without plans. Now I’m not recommending you go share your entire life story with a random person on a subway, but you’ll meet some cool people with some deep stories if you search. Fortunately, I was blessed with a great pal at my conference. Christina and I enjoyed sharing our lives, questions and pains over coffee dates. Leaving home for awhile helped me accept and own my struggles.
Home may be where the heart is, but it can also be a confining bubble. Travel forces you to meet new people from everywhere. I had the privilege of meeting Tash from Australia, Kimberly and Vanessa both from SoCal and Christina from Texas. You realize you’re not alone in interests nor struggles. Hearing others’ stories is therapy, and hey, does it hurt knowing someone you could stay with in Australia?
Just a preface. This is coming from a girl who started planning her Sweet 16 seven months in advance. Travel helps you learn how to live in the moment. I wasn’t feeling well before Los Angeles and didn’t have much energy or time to plan for it. Yes, I had several ideas in mind; I had an entire Pinterest board dedicated to this trip. And you know what? I didn’t do much of what I had planned, and even with that, I didn’t plan in abundance. And guess what? I still had a phenomenal time! While researching restaurants and sights can prove beneficial and enjoyable, sometimes it’s exhilarating to not have plans other than just exploring and seeing what looks good. And asking friends from the area often gives you more details and options.
You thought you graduated high school or college for good, but I’m here to tell you that you should always be a student. Travel opens your mind to new places, and with the right attitude, you can learn about different people, backgrounds and times. As basic as this sounds, this is a huge reason for my love of travel. The elation of finding a fun cafe on your own or being spontaneous by stepping into the ocean in your clothes makes me never want to stop learning and exploring the world God has created.
A round trip is so much more than trying to zip your almost-explosive suitcase or smashing a pillowcase to your ear because your roommate snores like a lawnmower. It’s more than trying to find LTE so that your Maps app will cooperate or living from cup of coffee to cup of coffee because you’re exhausted. It’s even more than the beautiful views of Laguna Beach or the creamy coffee you discovered on Balboa Island. Travel pushes you out of the familiar and forces you to engage the unknown.