I used to romanticize the idea of traveling. At the old age of 6, I believed that the only way I could travel and see far away places was if I went with loved ones or eventually a husband. That when I reached double-digits, I'll be an adult. Then in my twenties, I'll truly grow up, meet my lover, my partner, my soulmate and travel the world with him.
Clearly my definition of travel and love was skewed. And if you know me now, that's not how I operate. :)
I blame Papa Chang in the most endearing way though because he made me believe that traveling was a romantic activity only. Why, you ask? I grew up envious that my parents took my brother to both Disney World and Hawaii long before I was born. As a kid flipping through photo albums, I'd see pictures of the bro with Mickey and Magic Castle in the background, pictures of the bro with a lei, pictures of me in hula skirt-- no wait that's toddler brother in a hula skirt! Where was Laura during these family vacations? Why don't I have photos like that? I was not yet born, merely stardust, and just a dream not yet reality. At age 12, I stopped holding a grudge when we finally went to Disney World as a family. It was a dream come true, but on that trip was when father said I'd have to save Hawaii for my husband because he won't be able to afford a family trip there anytime soon. So save Hawaii I did for all those years, only to realize...wait, so I have to wait to find a guy, so I can marry him and THEN travel??
It's safe to say that I learned quickly that waiting for "the one" just to travel is silly and I'd never see this world if I had listened. All the love I need is right here already. I am "the one" and only me and I can take myself there! My life has been decided that I will travel whenever, wherever, with whoever I want. I most definitely don't need a man just to wander this earth. I've got amazing friends for that, too! But, I also had another dream and that was to move out West. I paused and I panicked that I wouldn't be able to pull both off-- travel and start over as a full fledged adult in a new city.
I knew the person I was in NY, but wanted to meet the person I would become in LA. I knew that the only way I could grow was to step outside my comfort zone and figure it out sans a romantic lead in my life to lean on. When I decided to move, I made it my goal to spend my entire first year discovering myself and focusing on friendships rather than romantic relationships. I got a little worried that I wouldn't be able to travel the way I imagined and the way that I fortunately was able to when I lived back home under my parents' roof. That rent money you save is real people. Enjoy that luxury for as long as you can! I even did a 10-day Euro Trip in between NY and the official LA move because I thought it'd be my last hurrah. Bills and rent all weren't things I thought about before. Plus, vacation days were now used to fly back home during the holidays. Again, something I didn't have to do living local. I wondered, will I have enough days off to fly home and visit new cities?
Fast forward a year and a half later...and as I anticipate my next trip tomorrow headed to Cuba, I've thought about the places I've been able to see since I've moved out West. I am so lucky! So far, I've flown to Iceland, the city of Seattle and Savannah, all for the first time-- in addition to the five trips back to NYC for some personal commitments. I plan on flying home as often as I can, but even I admit that I was not expecting 5 times this first round, so I don't anticipate it being as many times in the coming years. (But who knows!) With the help of budgeting, travel deals and my Chase Sapphire Reserve points, I continue my travel dreams, and now believe that I can still do both just fine. I am practical and try to save up whenever I can, but spending money to see places for a worthwhile deal will never bring me buyer's remorse. This is an activity that I will never come out of regretting I spent money on, especially when I get to see loved ones, too.
Traveling is a commitment I take seriously, and will always be a goal. I want to see as many new places this world has to offer in this lifetime. I want to meet people from all walks of life and eventually explore the depths of the ocean, too. So with the help of timing, opportunities and kick-ass friends who decide to travel with me, I found it easier and easier to just do it alone. Most of the time I'm not alone because I'll fly there solo, but meet up with friends on location. And the most exciting part is when you make unexpected friendships abroad. New friends in a new city.
Although I'm sure traveling with my husband would bring an entirely different meaning to these trips, but trips you take with friends and yourself should be equally as important. So all that pressure we put on ourselves to meet someone is really just pressure we need to try to ignore. I'm guilty of thinking about it from time to time, especially when Grandma is asking if I've made any friends out here-- specifically a boyfriend. I felt as though I was letting the OG down when I had no romantic update for her. And do yourself a favor! Don't get your fortune read because no one should tell you what lies ahead in your future. Sometimes it's just better left unknown. So after a few pinches and slaps, I'll snap back to reality and remember the whole purpose of moving out and finding myself.
That husband, that soulmate, that lover that I imagined at single-digit age is out there somewhere right now living his dream and traveling the world, too, I am sure. So let life play out as it is meant to play and enjoy all that free time you get in your 20s to just become the person you're meant to become. I think that's what I'd tell my younger self now. This world is filled with a lot of great people, and I never had to wait for someone else to take me anywhere, or fill the role as travel companion because I found ways to fill it up myself. And for that reason alone, all my trips have been rewarding.
I also just realized that I actually still haven't been to Hawaii yet, but not intentionally! I've attempted to try to fly there twice already, but timing just wasn't there. It's on my list and perhaps life is secretly reserving that Hawaiian vacation for my next serious relationship. Who knows? I've got some other countries up top that I'd like to see first, so c'est la vie. I'll see it when I see it!
So there you have it! My deepest thoughts this past year alone. 2017-- we're almost at the end and I can't believe how quickly time flies. I've been living my transplant Angelino life for 1.5 years now, and some days I still feel like I'm just a traveler visiting this city for an extended period of time. It's been an awesome year that will end wonderfully and I know that I will explore the heck out of 2018! But, I've never been more excited for what's to come than ever before.
"Do all that you can and all you thought you could not." I thought I couldn't move out and travel at the same time, but I can and I will. This life is an adventure, and you'll always find a way to do what you love. Just remember your priorities and believe that you can accomplish what you truly desire. Life is the experience, the encounters-- everything in between destinations-- and traveling just takes you there. I can do it myself and so can you! I can travel anytime with "the one" and only me.
With Love to this Universe,