"What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do- especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road." — William Least Heat Moon
Through-plane rides and new sites, I've been setting out on adventures all throughout my college career.
I will be the first to say that my bank account reads an average of twenty dollars about 75% of the time. I will also be the first to say that I travel quite frequently despite my lack of a stellar account balance.
I often hear snarky lines like “Where are you going now?” Or “We never go anywhere. It’s too expensive. Save your money.”
So while some choose to ask how I have all this cash to go places, I can honestly reply with: I don’t!
The secret is I save up just enough to purchase my flights out of small airports and stay with friends once I reach my destination. If I’m traveling to somewhere more exotic, I search until I find all-inclusive accommodations that include airfare in the price.
In reality, it's not all that difficult to make travel possible. It can be as easy as sacrificing a few new outfits or even just giving up those bi-weekly Starbucks runs.
For me, it's that exact mindset that has gotten me to see new places and meet some of the most wonderful people this world has to offer.
I took my first "big girl" vacation with my best friend, Perla, in May of 2015. We booked a trip to Punta Cana, where we lived in paradise for eight days. This adventure introduced me aspects of Dominican culture that I'd never been able to fully appreciate before.
While every visit to Perla's house was always infused with Dominican food and an overwhelming feeling of hospitality, our girls only getaway gave me the opportunity to experience the place that shaped her, first hand.
This trip was jam-packed with fruity drinks, the Spanish language, and a constant jumping out of my comfort zone. I found myself overwhelmed with joy as I learned to salsa, meringue, and bachata with the other guests from all over the globe.
Through entertainment programs run at our resort we made friends with individuals from St. Louis, Argentina, Canada, Colorado, Spain, California, and more.
Coming together and spending our days with our new friends was so extremely refreshing. We didn't have electronics constantly distracting us or a predetermined notion of who these people were. So when we began to chat with new people, we saw them for the person they were in that moment and vice versa.
Our open minds and conversations allowed us to spend our time with total strangers but at the moment it seemed like we had known these people for a lifetime.
Despite the fact that most of us came from different backgrounds, different countries even, that didn't matter at all.
Being immersed in an environment where the opinions, the people, and mindsets that plague me had vanished, allowed me to come to know people who I normally wouldn't have even had the guts to walk up and say hello to.
During one of the late night entertainment programs, I broke out my karaoke skills for the very first time. While I was on my church's worship team at the time, I never dared to sing alone for a crowd of this magnitude.
I will never be able to forget how uplifting it felt to be surrounded by people who were positive and encouraging regardless of whether they knew me or not. Although my performance was less than satisfactory, it was easily one of the most special moments I have experienced thus far.
From then on, I made it my goal to travel as often as possible because I knew, not only was it fun, but it also created an opportunity grow both emotionally and culturally.
Each journey I go on molds me into a better version of myself, allows me to build relationships and helps me to understand the world just a little bit better. Though I'm constantly pinching pennies to make for the next big adventure, I wouldn't change my experiences for the world.