Guest Spot is a recurring post on Natetheworld. In it, I provide a guest author a piece of media and they write a response. This month, I've invited one of nonprofit buddies to write about traveling alone. Enjoy.
To read the story I provided, click here.
If I kept a blog, it would contain endless stories of far away places and the generosity of complete strangers. There are many times that I dream about how it would feel to be free from my daily responsibilities and travel the world. Like Nathan, I too work in the nonprofit world and I too wish to die one day knowing that my life had an impact—that by me living and breathing, I made the world a better place in some way. In doing this type of work for a living, it’s easy to become burnt out, feel uninspired, and run down, so in order to keep my head on straight, I travel and typically I travel alone.
“What if something was to happen to you?” Then something happens to me.
I have been traveling alone since I was 17. My family has never been one for travel, or big cities, or even driving long distances, but I’ve always been fascinated by the world. In the 4th grade (keeping in mind that I was (am?) a strange child), my teacher taught my class about the Holocaust and the Oregon Trail. I couldn’t get enough of it. I had to learn everything I could about Germany, Nazis, concentration camps and internment camps. I also researched the Oregon Trail and Native Americans extensively. History, culture, and how the two intertwined and worked together captivated my attention for years afterward, but that year was just the start of what would flourish in to a beautiful love affair.
This article touches upon all the reasons why I prefer to travel alone. Yes, you heard that right. I prefer to travel alone. Being able to do things on your own time, see whatever you want to see, and becoming friends with total strangers, they are all great reasons. Traveling alone for me is liberating. Here in the states, there is this misconception of travel, specifically international travel; that something horrible will happen to you once you leave the borders, especially if you are by yourself. Travel is amazing because it teaches you things about yourself that you might otherwise never learn, like what you are actually capable of doing when you stop putting yourself down and stop doubting yourself.
When I am asked why I want to travel and see the world alone, I recite one of my favorite quotes: “When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure it’s worth watching.” The beauty of life is that we will all die one day. There is something beautiful and poetic in knowing that we’re all living against this unforgiving clock. Every second is a second we won’t get back, so make the most of it. We don’t know when that clock will run out but where you spend your last remaining moment is in your hands. Do you want to look back and regret not traveling when you had the chance, just because you would have had to do it alone?
Maybe you are like me and everywhere you look, you see people content with settling. They want to go to college, get married, buy a house, and raise a family. They’ll retire happy, following the “American Dream”, and that is their choice. Their life is in their hands, just like my life is in mine but when I look down at my hands, I don’t see the American Dream or anything that resembles such. I see adventure and love. I see 10-cent breakfasts in Morocco and building schools in Tanzania. The American Dream feels limiting to me. Restricting. There is this entire world awaiting my footsteps and no matter my age, I will see it. I will be 70 years old and hiking Maccu Picchu or running the Great Wall of China. My fantasies aren’t of white knights sweeping me off my feet but life changing adventures with stories so grand that I can’t believe they are real.