Growing up in the Midwest suburbs, family vacations were often limited to surrounding states or my grandparent’s lake house. I got my first passport when I was 15 for my first out of the country trip to Canada and didn’t leave the country again until I was 28. This is a familiar commonality for many of my friends growing up and other middle-class Midwestern kids.
While there’s nothing wrong with this, the mentality is that any larger trip out of the country or anywhere deemed exotic is the “trip of a lifetime.” Maybe this is a less widely spread idea as time goes on but I still find myself awkwardly explaining to my family that I have no reason to visit another city, state, or country outside of the fact that I just want to.
I don’t have a car or kids, I no longer blow a lot of money at Target as I did in my mid 20’s. I have a lot of cost-saving measures in place that allows me to devote my hard earned money to saying yes when someone invites me to visit or travel because I feel like I just need to get out of town or really want to visit my best friend. This confuses almost every older relative I come in contact with. Maybe they wonder why I just haven’t settled down yet. (Mind you, I’m in a committed relationship and a homeowner but what about marriage and kids?!)
I don’t want to push aside exploration or commit myself to falling in love with one location, revisiting every few years to remind me of the first time. I can’t think of anything more depressing than letting one experience define me. Have you ever met that person in a bar who talks about that one trip they took in college almost 10 years ago? Of course you have.
I want my experiences to grow with me; not define me, but influence the person I am continually becoming. What I really want to say with this post is to not feel guilty for wanting more than what is expected or considered normal. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone if you want to be on a pink sand beach or hike up a mountain. It’s your lifetime.