I have talked quite a bit on this blog about some of the traveling I’ve done. Mostly vaguely and generally, and mostly about how much I miss it. In the past year, I have not done as much traveling as I would like, but I have still had some pretty great adventures along the way.
Exactly one year ago, my friend Nicole and I hopped on separate planes in Minneapolis and New Jersey to visit our friend Meggan (plus her family and her then-boyfriend/now-fiancé, Ger!) in her native Canada. We spent about a week there, visiting national parks, watching fireworks on the beach, touring Toronto, enjoying bonfires, adventuring in general, and eating lots and lots of Tim Horton’s and Jack Astor’s.
As a major fan of Degrassi: The Next Generation, I was once unbelievably obsessed with our great neighbor to the north. I wanted to visit Canada. I wanted to befriend people from Canada. I wanted my whole life to revolve around Canada. The trip I took last year was not what I thought it would be when I dreamt of it at fourteen. I did not meet or hang out with anyone from the cast of Degrassi (even though Meggan said she would introduce me to some of them). Instead, I was able to spend a week with two of the most incredible human beings in my life, two of my beautiful soulmates. That in itself made our trip one for the books. It was also a mini reunion of sorts, as it took place exactly one year from when we had all last seen each other in Ireland. (Except that one time Meggan got stranded on her way home from Ireland and I drove her from one hotel to another so we could eat pizza and watch The Bachelor together.)
Other than the trip to Canada, I did not travel internationally in the previous year. Instead, I visited friends in Boston and New Hampshire a handful of times. I took a trip down to Virginia to spend a couple of days with my big sister. I took time to take a closer look at the world close to me.
I love to travel, obviously. The love I have for traveling was instilled fairly early on as I constantly watched my grandma jet off from one place to another. I hoped that one day I would do the same. So far, I think I have been doing pretty well. There isn’t much on my travel list for the rest of the year, for now, but I have been thinking a lot about what has made the trips I have taken so memorable. This quote by author Ernest Hemingway seems to sum it up just right:
My travel companions have included parents, a sister, cousins, an aunt and uncle, a grandmother, friends from middle school and friends from college, friends from other countries, and even some people I barely knew. They have all brought something different with them in our combined travels: wisdom, energy, joy, laughter, magic.
Where you travel, of course, makes a difference. But it is so much more than that. It is who you travel with that matters most. A bad attitude or a sour mood can make even the most brilliant of cities feel dull. When you have the choice, choose adventurous people who will encourage you to say “yes.” Choose cautious people who will remind you to keep your wits about you. Spontaneous people who will force you to step out of your comfort zone. Kind people who will always make sure you are enjoying your adventures. Carefree people who will eat gelato from four different gelaterias in one day. Silly people who will make you laugh even though you’re sleeping on a cold airport floor, or walking around a city soaked from head to toe and everywhere in between, or sleeping on a thin mattress atop a piece of plywood twelve feet in the air with a curtain as your only privacy. Choose people who are willing to get lost and explore even the tiniest of streets because even they hold something magical.
If you cannot choose these kind of people, do not let that stop you from having the adventures you want. Yes, the people you travel with can make or break a trip, but above all, you yourself must have the right outlook. Do not let soggy shoes or misguiding maps ruin your journey. If you have to get up in the middle of the night to walk through the city, wait around to take a long bus ride to the airport, and then take a horrendous flight before you can explore one last place before you head home, do it. (You can sleep later!) When you accidentally book a hostel room for four nights instead of five and find yourself wandering from beach to street to coffee shop to waste time until a morning flight, the best thing to do is laugh it off.
Go on trips with anyone you love. Go on trips with those you do not love and learn how to make a memorable journey anyway. Remember that it is usually the moments that were not “picture perfect” that mean the most in the end.