For as long as I can remember, I have always had a love affair with all things foreign. When I was very young, I had the Peanuts Encyclopedia set and memorized the volumes about the countries of the world. By the time I was ten my bedroom was an assortment of flags and international ‘artifacts’ friends and family gave me. In high school I was reading biographies on Thatcher and Yeltsin and was enrolled in as many foreign language classes as I could possibly take. The ‘ah-ha’ moment came in my Junior year, when I was fortunate to spend a month in Paris as part of an exchange program.
The Paris trip was my first time crossing an ocean and was only the second time I had ever been on a plane. The trip was transformative in so many ways and even though I have traveled extensively since then, the memories of my first time in Paris are as fresh as they were in 1993.
In particular, I remember my first glass of wine, my attempts to order steak (I forgot the phrases for meat preparation, so I ordered my steak burned) and an amazing ordeal at the Hippodrome seeing Velvet Underground and U2 in concert. That trip confirmed everything I had suspected; that I was captivated by all things foreign and my thirst for these cultural experiences would never be quenched.
I took this buzz of excitement with me through college, where I majored in international relations. Through a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I saved up enough money to fulfill a dream, to backpack around the United Kingdom. Just as I have always been fascinated by international studies, the U.K. in particular has always held a special place in my heart. I know my British friends hate hearing this, but I am and always will be an unrepentant Anglophile.
A few weeks after I graduated from college, I donned my first backpack and made my way to London. Not only was it just my second time in Europe, it was also my first solo traveling experience.
Even though I was only gone for five weeks, it was yet another transformative travel experience. My time alone allowed me to do a lot of soul searching and marked some important, life changing decisions. I toured England and Scotland and had an amazing time. I met so many people and experienced so many new things, that I knew I was changed forever.
Upon my return, I spent a lazy summer before heading to graduate school where I studied international relations. I went through, got my degree and moved to Washington, D.C. with visions of international NGOs and foreign service dancing in my head. That was when grim reality struck. I had moved to Washington without a job or a place to live and out of necessity took the first job offered, even though it had nothing to do with international studies. That in turn led to another position, and so on. Before I knew it, I was in my thirties and not doing anything related to international affairs.
In my personal life during this time, I was fortunate enough to find my soul mate whose own wanderlust is as powerful as mine. Together we have taken many trips, visited five continents and scores of countries. He built upon his own travel experience of doing an around-the-world trip when he was in his early twenties.
These trips, and the requisite planning, have mostly satisfied my seemingly endless appetite to see as much of the world as possible. There are very few places to which I would not visit and I am always on the lookout for ways to see more.
Ultimately, this is why I travel. I travel in part because it seems to be a part of my genetic makeup – a part of who I fundamentally am as a person. I also travel for selfish reasons, to see and experience new things, to learn about other cultures and to, for at least a moment, get lost in the vastness of the world.
I am so fortunate to have found this platform of travel blogging as yet another way to feed the great travel beast. In just a short period of time, this unique side venture has given me the ability to simultaneously experience the world through the eyes of others as well as to share my own experiences. I know that I am not a professional travel writer and I have never purported to be one. But I don’t think that my thoughts, opinions and experiences are of any less value than those of writers who have columns appearing in the world’s leading newspapers and magazines.
I may not be the next Bill Bryson, Rick Steves or NatGeo correspondent, but I enjoy helping at least a few people as they travel and in the process, help myself.
6 thoughts on “Snoopy, U2 and Arthur’s Seat – How I Caught the Travel Bug”
Great article man… I love hearing stories like this. You and I have a very similar travel history. My encyclopedia was called “A big big world encyclopedia” and it was about 3 feet tall by about 2 wide… I still have it. And my paris, was a small town in Japan! It’s funny how these things at a young age can bite you!
“I’m not going to be the next Bill Bryson, Rick Steves or NatGeo correspondent.” YOU NEVER KNOW! Just keep on writing!
“I know my British friends hate hearing this, but I am and always will be an unrepentant Anglophile.”
Amen to that!
I love your introduction. You’ve just confirmed what I needed to hear: solo travel is an excellent way to dig into our soul and discover things. I have this secret fantasy to travel solo and you just made that fantasy grow tons!
I love your blog, keep up with the great quality work you’ve already provided us with.
p.s. i also dream of being the next Nat Geo correspondant in the UK. is there such a thing, actually?
Who knows where your passion will take you in life?
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” ~ Unknown
I don’t know if either of us will be the next Bill Bryson but 10 years from now, people might say they’d like to be the next Matt Long or Kash Bhattacharya. Wait. My surname is way too Long!
I need a new nick name.
I look forward to following your fortunes, maybe on a less windswept day you might head back to Edinburgh :)
Kash aka @budgettraveller
and OMG little Matt is adorable!!! (you can yell at me later)
Good post, Good blog. It inspires me ;)
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