I love travel. The way it changes you, molds you into something more.
In high school I was obsessed with nailing all 50 states and since I had some weird idea in my mind I'd die by age 28, I needed to get busy.
I would take as many road trips as I could muster the money for gas and look for loopholes of cost by staying with people I knew.
When I traveled overseas to Ireland in junior high, I was one of the first in my class to do this and it made me feel special, like I had something none of the others did.
Travel became more about ego and escape then curiosity and adventure. I was one of those people who would be in a conversation and "trip drop."
You know the ones.
You're talking about a great cup of coffee and they interject, "The best coffee ever is in the..."
Obnoxious, yes. I'm guilty.
I felt travel set me apart in a sea of sameness. I used it to make myself feel better and to conquer. I gave little thought to the people or places I was visiting. I feared missing out.
Enlisting in the Peace Corps altered my entire approach and intent to travel.
Cultured in understanding the people of Ecuador, I started to see my arrogance and lack of respect.
You can only do better, when you know better.
Travel is less about the fear of missing out now. Instead I voyage to learn, grow, explore, and connect.
This past year I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines for my brother's wedding.
I learned my misconceptions and beliefs in the place and people were wrong. Built on faulty information. Things heard and seen on American media.
Empathy is the awakening.
Sometimes I have the opportunity to experience it, which seems to solidify knowledge for me, but if I learn to empathize, the journey is only the distance from the head to the heart.