When I was younger, I yearned to travel to places like Japan, New Zealand, Korea, India and all sorts of different countries. I often daydreamed of crystal clear waters, new adventures, and a lot of great food. I thought of the new friendships I could make and all the historical sites I could visit. I thought of all the beautiful sunsets I could photograph and the cool trinkets I could collect in each country. I daydreamed of how great it would be to just go out and see the world. I wanted to see what was out there and to have these things rock my world.
But in the midst of thinking about exploring caves and climbing mountains, I had missed to consider an important detail; it is a fairly easy detail to miss because no one really talks about it and it is something that romantics like myself don't really consider: in order to pursue my whimsical dreams of traveling, I never stopped to consider the costs of leaving home in order to pursue my dreams. The costs of travel, I’ve experienced, are much more subtle and less materialistic than I expected.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad for two months in order to pursue a possible career path. I have travelled overseas in previous years, but this was the first year I travelled to an unknown country where I hardly knew anyone. In this span of time, I realized one thing about the cost of traveling:
The cost of traveling includes much more than the money in our wallets.
It costs us our prides. It costs us our ability to be proficient in communicating with one another because we have to deal with the language barriers presented in that country. We have to go back to learning basic words like "mother" and "father" and "thank you" when we think we already know those words so well.
It costs us our physical comforts. When we travel, we may find ourselves sleeping on dirty mattresses. We may have to take cold morning showers and live through hot summer nights. We may have to adjust our eating habits and sleeping schedules. It costs us our relationships at home. We may have to deal with the possibility of having a limited amount of internet service, experience dropped phone calls from a loved one, or spend days without having any type of communication from home.
However, my friends, as you travel you should also expect to be filled with much love and appreciation for everything around you. Expect to learn more about yourself. Rejoice at the kindness you’ll receive from strangers and cultivate the ability to forgive those who may not be as kind to you. Above all else, expect to come back home a different person. Come back as a storyteller with blistered hands, brimming eyes, and a growing thirst for something greater than yourself.