I like to think that I inspire others to travel, that people see me going places and it makes their feet itch too. I don’t want people to say “I wish I could do that”, I want them to say, “How can I do that?”
Last August, Damany and I brought some friends of ours to Europe with us. It was their first trip out of the States, and it was a trip Jason and I had discussed taking more than 3 years prior (it’s crazy how time flies). Amsterdam, Germany, Prague, and Vienna. Good destinations for beginners I thought. Europe is easy because pretty much everyone knows English and while there are many cultural differences from home, most of Europe is very westernized. The plumbing situation is similar to home, the foods are familiar (or at least digestible), comparable fashions allow you to not stick out like a sore thumb, etc.
Despite Jay’s looking like he might die for the duration of the plane ride, my immediate annoyance at not being able to get a train ticket prior to changing my money over, and Chi’s tendency to be easily diverted and disappear, we made it out of the airport all together, and all in one piece. Shuttled by train to Amsterdam’s Central Station, we took our first steps out onto the streets, to the endless opportunities that travel brings forth. Jay and Chi-Chi’s first time in a foreign country. I’ll never forget that look of wonderment, of “Wow, so this is what different is like.” It’s a look that I’m proud to have helped initiate, and a bug I’m glad to spread.
And boy did it spread! The travel bug took over in Jason like a wildfire in a drought. He just needed a bit of a push to get through those nervous feelings about actually doing it, some experience not dying on a lengthy plane ride, a taste of diversity, and the assurance that it’s okay to get lost sometimes.
We returned from that Europe trip in mid September and by mid February (less than 6 months later) Jay and Chi were Costa Rica bound, ready for another adventure, this time on a tour, in a place familiar with tourists but still a bit more foreign than the last trip.
Now, Jay is trying to make me jealous with plans of Peru in August. Well, not really, but it’s one of the places which has been at the top of my list (which I should not have neglected for so long), and he’s just going because friends will be there at the time. Humph.
In one year Jay will have gone on 3 vacations…my ultimate goal for the next few years! Now, my encouragement for someone else inspires me to push harder for that end. I can’t let Jay surpass me that quickly, I keep thinking (in a friendly competition sort of way), I’m the traveler!
As Damany put it, “It’s like we’ve created some kind of monster”. Not such a bad thing, as this monster is just going to influence me to travel more too. That’s the thing with addictions, people who enjoy similar compulsions just feed off each other (something Jay and I have always been particularly good at). At least travel is a good habit to have; we’re not amplifying a chemical dependency, we’re inspiring each other to go further and learn more. Inspire and be inspired. That’s kind of what being a traveler is all about.