Travel is good for my soul.
Recently a friend told me, “Travel is your spiritual journey.”
I had to pause and allow those words to wash over my heart. This comment felt much more loving than what many have called the path I chose 19 years ago:
I have found that travel makes many people uncomfortable. It’s something the government advises against. It’s dangerous. It’s risky. It goes against the rule we are taught from infancy: don’t talk to strangers.
Travel is rarely a celebrated path.
Moving around and being on the go might be tolerated up to a certain age, but then cultural expectations kick in. At some point the timer goes off and that means getting a job, getting married, and falling in line with what we define as being an adult.
I got married just before I turned 30.
We bought a house and started a business. We hit six figures in our first year. From the outside it looked like we had managed to achieve the American dream, except there was one ugly problem: I didn’t want it. Owning a house made me feel trapped. Living day-to-day the American way sucked the life out of me.
Finally I knew I couldn’t fight it anymore.
We were living in Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego and I told my husband, “I have to travel.” I have to get out of this country. Let’s sell everything and go. He knew who he had married and he wasn’t surprised. The books went up for sale on Amazon. The furniture went on Craigslist and we had a moving sale right out of our loft. We informed our clients and put systems into place to continue our business from afar. Three short months later we landed in Tirana, Albania with four suitcases, a Kindle in our hands, and an adventure ahead of us.
I cannot compartmentalize my life.
It’s taken me 19 years to learn this. Many times I tried to convince myself that I could take one or two trips a year and that would be enough; I’d be happy. But that wasn’t the truth. It’s taken many trips across the Atlantic for me to forgive myself for not fitting into society’s norms. It’s taken many heart-to-heart talks with my family for me to find full acceptance from them. It’s taken a whole year dedicated to completely overhauling my life for us to move to Mexico with our two toddlers.
I am a World Explorer.
It was absolutely mandatory for me to declare this and make it my title. Travel has once again been my undoing, my salvation, and my inspiration. It has taken center stage, as it’s my heart and the core of who I am.
From this place of exploration and adventure I am receiving my best ideas, creating my most spectacular relationships, and moving into my most aligned work. This is the real reason travel wouldn’t let go of me. It knew I could only be the best version of myself if I were out in the world. Out in the wide open field of endless possibilities and unplanned days. In the slow pace and lazy afternoons, I could uncover the most spectacular parts of myself.
Embracing my 22 year-old self.
Yes, that’s right. Believe it or not, when I was 22 and living in Albania, volunteering at an orphanage, I had it right. That girl knew the plane ticket had to be booked. The bag had to be packed. Exploring the world was not optional. It was mandatory for her to see life through a wider lens. Being out traveling for the last six months, I can feel myself returning to her. I could have trusted her then, but I know for certain it is safe for me to trust her now.
What I am committed to.
I am committed to giving my children the rich heritage of travel, language, and culture. It’s of utmost importance that they have open hearts and minds. I desire for them to be accepting of all people. May they learn tolerance, and that peace is theirs to initiate. I am committed to supporting my husband and his art. I am driven to assist him in making his wildest dreams come true. I’m committed to work that feels like play. I am committed to seeing it all and going where most have never gone before. I am committed to empowering others to set aside expectations, to stop suppressing their truest desires, and to listen to the faraway places that call their heart.
Travel is non-negotiable because it’s not an activity, it is who I am.
Author: Monique Alvarez
Editor: Travis May