Millennial Around The World Travel: Our How And Why
Sarah – This is a hard question for me to answer because my internal question wasn’t “why”, but rather “when”. When I was young, I was drawn to travel opportunities. No experience was too small. We used to drive for 15+ hours in our Dodge Voyager, a seven-passenger, gray van, while growing up in the Midwest. In 8th grade, I had the chance to travel to Mexico to bring food and other resources to poor populations. It was a moment that made me realize how lucky I was. I was eager to study abroad in college.
My youngest brother died suddenly in. I learned to live each day as if it were my last. He was only 18 years old when he drove a van, went rock climbing, and enjoyed backpacking. He also learned to highline, pushing his limits, and even took up slacklining. He was a great friend and loved to laugh with people. He planned to take a year off to travel before he started college. It is said that “life is short”. I was aware of this fact, but I didn’t fully understand it until then. I have become more determined to explore new opportunities and not wait for the “right time”, because it might never come.
While it is not easy to travel for a long time, and it was time-consuming to plan and save for, I couldn’t think of a better way than to live the lessons my brother taught. We won’t be rushing through every city, only stopping at the main tourist attractions. By traveling over a longer time period, we can enjoy more of what each country has to offer. We will learn about the local markets, make friends with our neighbors, have a good time in cafés and walk everywhere. We hope to be able to see the world through the eyes of both locals and tourists and discover how people are alike and different. It’s much easier to believe the media if you don’t leave your country and build these relationships.
Mason – I doubt I would have planned a trip this large if I hadn’t met Sarah. I have always been content with adventures within my “backyard,” as it were. Living in different landscapes throughout the American West has provided me with many opportunities for such adventures. The more I traveled, the more I saw my backyard as a hall of mirrors. As I traveled through Montana, Wyoming, and western South Dakota, it became clear to me how homogeneous this group of adventurers is. Many of the faces I encountered on the trail looked a lot like mine, young, white, wealthy, English-speaking.
Sarah’s experiences of traveling and living abroad began to penetrate my mind over time. Her experiences in different European countries, with their diverse macro and microcultures and varied languages, opened my eyes to a world of challenges that I hadn’t seen before. Her stories made the world seem bigger, less charted and more full of wonder than I had imagined.
It took me some time to reevaluate the bizarre loyalty I felt to the American West. At a young age, I believed that there was so much to see, do, and learn in my own country that I shouldn’t be required to visit another. I will always treasure places such as the Black Hills in South Dakota and Wyoming, or the vast wildernesses in western Montana. They are my home. Sarah and I have shared these five years together, and I have come to realize that love for and respect for places is not a zero-sum proposition. My traveling abroad is not an act of disloyalty. World travel is a way to enhance and strengthen my appreciation of where I come from. The world is not small, but seeing it as a whole does not make one place smaller.