Find your freedom. Find your happiness. Find your escape. Find your self.
All of these describe my life at some point during my travels. Many people travel to places to see the sights, enjoy a getaway, and explore the world. I’ve done all of those things. However, my journey is more than that.
“Find your freedom” is about that life changing moment in your life that you discovered through travel. And these are the stories we have to tell.
A week ago, Expedia launched the “Find your” series which seeks to tell a different kind of travel story. These aren’t about destinations, tips, or what to see and do. These are about those life changing moments that have become our travel story.
These are the travel stories we want people to share.
Find your self
The year was 1994 and it was my sophomore year in college. It was October and it was the loneliest moment I ever had at the University of South Carolina. In December of that year, I got a co-op (a paid internship) at IBM just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina in Research Triangle Park.
I needed a change of scenery. Hanging out in Raleigh, I met new people and saw new places. I went on a road trip in early February for my birthday. I hung out with a number of other college students. And I had another one of those moments – I felt different and alone.
Just two months after returning home to Columbia, SC I had the chance to visit Estonia.
I spent bus rides learning Estonian phrases I would never use again. I wanted to meet and connect with the Estonian people. I soaked up the culture. I was a different person – one I never knew existed before.
Travel changed me. The journey was just beginning.
Find your escape
Fast forward to May 2004. My life had changed drastically. I’ve had my share of travel confessions. I’ve shared the life lessons I’ve learned as a travel blogger. I still haven’t talked about this one though.
Just a month earlier, I came home for lunch and bawled like a baby lying on the floor by the kitchen table. I was comforted by sloppy licks on my face thanks to my closest friend – my Golden Retriever.
From mid-May to mid-June, I spent a month traveling around Europe. Some of that time was on a tour, some was spent on my own. I was an emotional wreck with lots of ups and downs on that trip.
I’ve got some great stories to tell – like that time I was locked out of my hotel in Florence.
I visited some of the most beautiful cities in the world – Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam.
I pondered my life on top of a mountain overlooking the Austrian valley below. I cried in the Cinque Terre. I was lonely and depressed in Paris’ Luxembourg Garden.
On this trip, I was here to find my escape. And despite the ups and downs, the experience impacted my life.
Find your happiness
Since that trip, my travels have been a lot happier. There have still been plenty of ups and downs. However, I’ve continued to find myself through my travel stories.
I’ve been to a nude beach in Portugal. I’ve seen Barcelona play football at the Nou Camp. I’ve been to the edge of the Grand Canyon. I’ve enjoyed some of my best travel moments close to home.
For me, travel isn’t about how far away you go to get to that next destination. Travel is a mindset and attitude that you carry with you no matter where you go.
Find your freedom
For most of my life, I’ve seen myself as quiet, shy, unemotional, and deep thinking person. For those most part, that’s a pretty good description. However, I’ve lived most of my life believing things about myself that just weren’t true.
I am very passionate and emotional (which has its good and bad sides). I am one of the most analytical, deep thinking people you will meet. However, most of my life is ruled by my feelings. I am very sensitive and insecure even though I may come across as confident and arrogant.
This journey through life and the world have helped me discover who I really am. I am not the person I believed myself to be. Seeing myself last weekend, it brought a smile to my face and made me realize there is more to me than I ever thought there was.
Travel has helped me find my freedom – the freedom to be me.
The freedom to be me has also meant combining my two greatest passions – sports and travel. Two of my greatest travel moments involved sports.
While talking to some Scottish Highland Games professional athletes, I had tears in my eyes realizing that in that moment I was accepted and right where I needed to be.
In Annapolis for the Army-Navy football game, I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Last year, I launched the College Football Travel Tour. This year, this tour will help tell my story while I take you on a journey.
Find your travel story
Through travel, I’ve been able to find an escape, find myself, find my happiness, and find my freedom.
Now it’s your turn. Share your travel story and join Expedia to “Find Yours”. It’s your chance to find your freedom. Share the travel stories that go beyond the destinations. Change lives through travel – starting with the stories that changed yours.
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Filed Under: Traveling Thoughts