It seems like everyone and their mother has caught the travel bug these days. Enlightened millennials everywhere are starting amateur blogs about their tastes of travel while worshiping the bloggers out there who have made a lifestyle and a living out of their travels around the world. Thanks Tim Ferris! I really wasn’t ever truly inspired by bloggers or authors or anything like that. For me, it was James Bond, Jimmy Buffett and a few interesting people I met as a kid. I waited patiently throughout childhood until I was old enough to jump on any travel opportunity that arose. I wanted to experience the lifestyle that my heros had and be able to speak with experience about exotic places around the world while spinning a tale about the time I had while there. From a young age, I saw a lot of places around the country and the world by initiating one simple principle. I learned to never say no, just go.
This is why my blog is different from those of the enlightened millennial thought group. Amateur Lifestyle is about what I’ve learned from experiences as big as going around the world to those as small as seeing someone smile at me on the street. I think that travel blogs can be great but they can also be so unbearably boring. "You got on a plane and you were nervous?" Good for you! By the way cool pic in front of the Eiffel tower… Please gag me. I digress. I write about what I learned from these high trips around the world in the hopes that someone else out there is trying to make sense of life’s experiences, just like me. All that said, I can say that much of my motivation to write a blog was kicked off by a lot of crazy experiences from one particular little summer when I traveled around the world. By the way, yes, I did cry on the plane ride, but not because I was nervous and yes, I did get a pic in front of the Eiffel tower, but not without objection and protest. My intentions for travel are for experience, something that will allow me to tell a story, not just to take a photo. I never wanted to go just to say I was there, I want to go because I want to feel fulfilled.
Growing up, I would see and hear about the amazing places around the world in James Bond movies, Samantha Brown shows, and Jimmy Buffett songs. My parents had a hand in feeding this soon to be obsession. As a kid, watching James Bond movies, I remember my dad saying, “The nice thing about a Bond movie is that they always take you places.”
and my mom raving about how much she wanted to have Samantha Brown’s job. Both of my parents are also avid Parrotheads and introduced me to Jimmy Buffett. Ask my mom about the goldfish at the Buffett tailgate! For those of you who only know him for tourist traps and the song Margaritaville, educate yourself! The man makes a living off traveling and telling stories (my role model). I wanted to go everywhere, every city that was new and different to me that contained a hidden treasure of culture and stories, waiting to be discovered and told. This is not limited to going abroad either. The U.S. has some amazing cities and culture that gets overlooked by the millennial travel cult that seems to be obsessed with Europe and the occasional trip to Thailand or South America. I digress, again.
By the time I was 16, I took my first solo plane ride to visit my uncle in Alabama. Combine that with a Jimmy Buffett obsession and you get 3 1/2 years at The University of Alabama. Roll Tide. Shortly after my first taste of southern exposure, I had the opportunity to go to New York City for 10 days for a youth leadership camp focused on entrepreneurship, called NSLC. Me, the 16 year old kid from a tiny scrapyard town in western PA that no one has heard of, was conversing and making friends with kids whose parents were CEOs and business moguls from literally all over the world! (Don't mind the Oakley sunglasses that I still have!) This experience deserves a post all its own, but attending NSLC that summer in New York was probably one of the greatest things I have ever done. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t feel afraid to be smart or to want for more, something commonly discouraged in a small coal town. My shackles of fear were loosened and I set out to see it all from that point on!
One of my almost famous quotes is, “friends last a lifetime, relationships come and go.” Fortunately for me, I met a lot of great friends! Relationships… don’t ask. That crazy summer when I traveled around the world, would not have happened without my friend Sammy and her family or my friend Nadya and her’s. The experiences that I envisioned as a child came true as I looked out onto the city of Singapore from the famous Marina Bay Sands, gazed at a volcano from the beaches of Bali, sat at a family feast for the final day of Ramadan in Germany, spun through the foothills of the Alps outside of Salzburg like Fraulein Maria, became the first member of my family to return to the country from which my ancestors came, and acted a fool at a pride festival in Cologne, among many other experiences around the world that I could continue to recount until eternity. The point is that from each of these amazing experiences, I have an even better story to tell. (LOL at the plane ride home from Singapore!)
My stories are my photos in front of the Eiffel Tower. No photo, no blog, no words can appropriately recreate the experience, the lessons learned, the culture or the people who make travel what it is but a good story does a great job. To tell you that I went somewhere and about what I saw there might make me feel good but it doesn’t do anything to help you as the reader or inspire you to get out and go! You have your visions of what travel means, the places you want to go and your “why” for going. Among all the stories that you will earn by traveling, the most important one to remember is why you went. As you mentally footnote the places you want to go and why, the universe has a funny way of presenting you with the opportunity to go. When you do finally take your trip around the world, make sure to make the most of it by looking outside the camera frame and seeing the city for the grandeur that it truly holds. Spin around in the Alps because you love The sound of Music, wander aimlessly and get lost among the streets of Paris, go to the bars that the tourists are afraid of and don’t wait for the timing to be better. It won’t be. Life only gets harder, like the levels on Super Mario, and he gets 3 lives. When you get the opportunity to go somewhere with a group, a family, a friend or even yourself, never say “No,” just go! You won't have any regret and you won't be disappointed.
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