I would always complain about tourists living in America, especially on the coast. People would swarm the beaches and I could never get comfortable with all these sweaty people around me. But this summer, I realized that I myself was one of those gawky tourists. Here's how I discovered my deep, dark secret (which was extremely short of being one).
I grew up in a military family so we moved around a lot. They sent us to Okinawa, Japan so we took a cross-country trip from North Carolina to Seattle, Washington where we flew out to Japan. While we were there, we went water falling, caving, surfing, camping, cliff diving, rock climbing, zip lining, and so much more. We spent three years touring around Okinawa, doing anything we could to get an up-close look at the amazing culture of Japan, but I didn't think I was a tourist because I lived there.
This was a park in Okinawa called Pineapple Park. It was literally a park full of pineapple; things made out of pineapples, things that look like pineapples, things that smell like pineapples. It was amazing.
We also went to Hawaii, Mainland Japan, and even Alaska while we were stationed in Okinawa. During our first Alaska trip, my mom, grandma, and I went around kissing moose and almost hitting a few. We fell in love with watching the sunset at 10 p.m. and petting cute husky puppies. We loved it so much, my mom and I went back two years later.
After our Okinawan adventures, we moved back to North Carolina where we went to every American restaurant we didn't have the chance to go to while we were away. We would go hiking, go to the nearby beach, and explore the coast all the time and again, I didn't believe I was a tourist because I lived there.
Two summers after moving back, we traveled up north to New York City. I will never forget the taste of the greasy, cheesy New York pizza sold out of the back of a truck. Then, I took a trip with my Youth Group to Guatemala where we spent nine days serving food and ministering to the locals.
That summer was the best one of my life, so far. Last summer, my family and I went on a cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We drove to Miami (I could have sworn I saw Flo Rida driving a Maserati, but no one else in the car believed me) and got on the cruise the next day. When we got back, I bought myself a fanny pack to take into Universal Studios with me (yes it was one of those touristy ones). We spent a week driving around Orlando and almost buying a Luna Lovegood wand before hitting the road to home.
I realized that being a tourist was one of the best things in the world. Traveling around and seeing how different people live shaped me into a more patient, generous, and thankful person. So yes, I'm a tourist, but I would much rather be someone that lives their life traveling than someone who stays at home.
You don't have to go far to explore the world. If you don't have the funds or opportunities, you can always stay local. One of my favorite places to go is Downtown New Bern. It's literally thirty minutes up the highway from my house. I love going because every time I go, I discover something new. Your next adventure starts the second you step out the front door, all you have to do is take it.