Thursday, August 8, 2013

Worth It

From here
At this point in my life, I have experienced probably almost any travel nightmare you can think of. From lost luggage, to long long lines at passport control; from late flights and missed connections to those flights that are completely cancelled and push all your plans back a day. I've had short 45 minute flights, and long overseas flights. I've had all-day and cross-country car trips with sick siblings. I've traveled while sick, while on my period, while hungry. I've had the unknown: not really knowing where you're going or having anyway to contact anyone. I've traveled with friends and family and little kids and all alone. I've had lodging situations not work out as planned, luggage break, and credit cards not work. And, for the most part, I am pretty good at keeping my head in those situations. But whether or not it's a good day or a bad day, it's always stressful. Today was no exception. After 5 hours of unproductive, not-my-fault waiting, the only thing to do was change my tickets to tomorrow and return to town. Through a not-so-small string of small miracles, Tracy and I met up again, and went to go drown our travel sorrows in ice cream, free wifi, and the fairytale charm of Wroclaw.

But even with all the times I pulled my sunglasses on today to hide the oncoming tears (I was running off of 4 hours of sleep and 3 months of traveling), once everything worked out and I found Tracy again, it was like, "How lucky am I? Flight cancelled. I have to spend one more day in Europe with one of my best friends. #firstworldproblems." And not only that, but I started to reflect on why I love traveling. I have to stay, when standing in that line for 2 hours, I often wondered, "Why do I do this?" And then I thought of the feeling I get when I'm landing in a new place--the decision has been made, and there are so many new opportunities ahead. I thought of the people I meet and spend time with--whether it's the friends I'm traveling with, or a cute Polish girl I talk with in Starbucks for about an hour about feminism and God and fashion and life. I thought of the different spirit that each city or place I've traveled to has, and what it's like to discover that and to discover a part of yourself there too. You always discover a part of yourself; at least I do. That's why I love traveling. I find myself scattered across the world in hundreds of different pieces. I learn about others, and in them and their cultures and their cityscapes, I find myself. No matter where I go, there is something to learn and to love. And you always change, become a little bit different after each day you really live out there in the world.

So despite all the hours of lines and the horror stories and the cankles that come from sitting on oversea flights and the stress and the tears and the expenses and how much I hate packing--the answer to a travel opportunity is always (at least in my heart) a resounding YES. There is a time to go home, and that has come, but you always know when it's time. And the travel experience just wouldn't be as meaningful without the real life to go home and apply it to.

1 comment:

Sleepydaddy said...

We miss you at home Rachel! Glad you have had such good experiences traveling, but I don't have many more hairs to turn gray. Travel safely, continue the great experiences on your last day traveling home.