I’ve caught the travel-bug.

I caught it from my dad. He loves to travel anywhere and everywhere, just like me.

Traveling is a common love for many. Have you ever noticed a trend in those always-painful “here’s a fun fact about me” icebreakers? So many people list their love of traveling as a main building block to who they are, thinking it something significant enough to share with a group of strangers.

When asked where they want to go, they list off many iconic places like Hawaii, Spain, Italy, etc. But how many actually end up going?

Our American culture doesn’t embrace or promote traveling, it actually discourages it. Claiming travel to be too expensive, saying we don’t have enough time and instead idolizes material objects and wealth over experiences.

But how could you not fall in love with the lifestyles of other cultures? Or getting to meet so many amazing people from all over the world and taste all the exotic and foreign food you could imagine?

Everybody has different tastes and expectations when it comes to vacations. I’m not one to just sit on a beach and tan, I love adventure, to see what it’s like to live in a different city.

I’ve gotten to drive the Hana Highway, go cliff jumping over waterfalls, explore old lava caves, eat fruit from stands on the side of the road, climb to the top of the Eiffel tower, see the whole city from the London Eye, eat gelato in Florence and Rome, see the Mona Lisa in real life and so much more. Each experience has taught me so much about the world and the people we share a life with and has left me desperate for more.

We all travel for different reasons. Maybe to see things, do things, eat things, or buy things, but we should all travel with an open mind and the capacity in our hearts to learn about the world.

My experiences with going new places has taught me just how little I actually know about the world and its people. I don’t expect to fully understand or be part of the culture of another country after I leave, but I leave with an awareness of my own ignorance and humbled with an insight into just how small I really am in the grand scheme of things.

Traveling has ripped away any comfort zone I once had. It truly pushes you past your limits in terms of culture shock in the best way possible, leaving you every time with an open mind and an open heart.

If I’ve learned one thing in my 18 years of life, it’s that we often regret the things we didn’t do, instead of the things we didn’t buy. When we’re old, we won’t remember all the cool gadgets and technology that we had, but we will remember all the memories we made, all the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met. My dream is to live a life so full of love, relationships and memories to last a lifetime.