It started in high school. I fell in love for the first time; and it only progressed throughout college and beyond my years at University. I fell in love with Spanish at the age of 15 and have been enamored ever since.
Because of Spanish, I have been to multiple Spanish-speaking countries and have travelled on school Spanish trips such as ‘Costa Rica’ (2009) and ‘France and Spain’ (2010). However, the biggest trip I have taken, was my trip to España (Spain), for the second time, in 2013.
I fell in love with Spain in 2010 and I knew I had to return, so I worked part-time while being a full-time student and saved all my money to travel a month in Spain… by myself! Everyone thought I was crazy, that I would be lonely, or get mugged. In reality, over the course of the month I did get homesick and I had some lonely moments but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was independent, strong-willed, and that I could be happy with my own company. I think that travelling alone, whether it be a an hour, a day, a weekend or a whole month is an important expedition that everyone should embark upon. Having said that, although I did spend the majority of that month travelling around alone, I had arranged to meet my former International Students, Carlos and Carmen (brother and sister), who lived in Madrid, Spain.
When I arrived in Madrid, Carlos was at the airport to pick me up (well sort of). This was the first test of my independence on the trip because when I landed and received my luggage in Madrid, Carlos was nowhere to be found. Since we had not specifically stated where we would meet after I had landed, and I was unfamiliar with the airport, I had a choice – I could stay where I was, feeling quite like a lost child looking for her mum, or I could be brave and travel towards the exit (where I assumed Carlos would be entering from). So, with trepidation, I ventured towards the exit of the airport. Luckily, I was paying attention because Carlos, in his hurry to get to me almost flew right by me without noticing! I yelled his name to get his attention, and with dos besos (two kisses), one on each cheek which is a Spanish custom, began my first ever independent trip. I say “independent trip” because it was the first time I had saved up all of my own money, to travel independent of any school group, basketball team, or family trip.
While I was in Spain, I travelled to many different places – Galicia, in the northwest region, was my all-time favourite place in the world (so far). To explain that trip will require a whole different blog post. So, I will stick to Madrid for now. I had the great fortune to know people who lived in Spain, and I used their home as a “home base” to return to after my frequent day to week-long excursions to different places around Spain. I realize this is not an option for most, so I have made a list of a few great hostels that I stayed in all around Spain.
*to be inserted in February 2015 (we are moving and all my travel journals are in boxes! sorry)
But, that brings me to another great tip! Keep a travel journal!!! I have been writing since I was old enough to read and write, but travel journaling is so important because you won’t remember the small details otherwise. It does not have to be a physical journal book, but keep a record either through your blog, e-mail, word doc etc. I prefer paper and pen because there is no way to delete or misplace the file, it feels more concrete to me, but that is personal preference. If you only remember one thing from this blog post – let it be to record your trip! Trust me, as time goes by, you will appreciate having written your travels down.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND AND BE ADVENTUROUS
Be open to new people and new opportunities! The key to a great trip, and the best way to enjoy yourself the most, is to keep an open mind and be open to meeting new people, trying new food, and exploring new cultures. Also, do not ever be afraid to listen to your gut and take risks! In 10, 20, 30 years you want to say “I did that!”, not “I planned on it”, “I wanted to but…”. There are always reasons to say “no”, but, if you want to do something badly enough, you will make sacrifices. And, perhaps those “sacrifices” will not feel like sacrifices, when you are experiencing all the world has to offer you.
Anyone who has travelled will tell you it is nearly impossible to convey the impact that exploring different cultures and regions has on the traveller. However, I guarantee that anyone who loves travelling like I do, will tell you that it is worth more than anything you own. I am considering travelling the world, with no current plan for what I hope to accomplish while doing it, but knowing that in travelling alone I will have accomplished something; this is how much I love to travel, and believe in the power that travelling has on someone.
Until next time,