Is the experience of travel best when you are alone, with friends, or with someone you love?
Hiking alone in Pitlochry, Scotland, 2000, & Hiking with Nathan in Klosters, Switzerland, 2010
When I lived in Romania, I travelled all over the European continent – with friends, family, and at times, completely alone. Those travels made me who I am today; they gave life and inspiration to my fine art photography business; they bred lifelong friendships, new ways of thinking, new politics, a new worldview.
They also, at times, bred deep frustration and loneliness. Juggling heavy backpacks, maps, learning a new city every few days on my own, struggling to communicate in places like Bulgaria where the alphabet is different…sometimes, well, I just wanted a partner – someone to help make decisions, remember directions, write down train times, and heave my backpack onto the luggage rack in a trains.
Upon returning to the States, I scrawled this quote in my souvenir album:
“No wonder travel books are written mostly by men…whatever possessed me to do this in the first place? I’m just about to the end of my rope – although the length of the rope, I’m learning, is elastically extendable.”
– Eva Hoffman, Exit Into History
Stirling, Scotland, 2000, & New Orleans, LA, 2010
I never let being “alone” stop me from seeing the world. I never wanted to look back on my younger years and think, man, I shoulda, coulda, woulda… etc. I lived it up! Boy, did I! I think I shaved a couple years off my parents in stress and worry! (As in, “Mom, tomorrow I am going to take a night train to Sofia for a few days…I will call you when I get back to Bucharest.”)
Hiking in the Tatras, Poland, on 9/11/01, the day the Towers fell; & in Switzerland, 2010
The love of travel is a bonding strong force, isn’t it? When someone loves travel as much as I do, I just automatically know so much about them already. The travel memories I made with friends before Nathan are so precious to me. These girls are among my soul mates, no exaggeration! Along the way, we talked about someday having these same kind of adventures with the men of our dreams…and those men are now all here (at last and good riddance!)!
Drinking Cider in Dingle, Ireland with Kate, 2000; Ouzo in Rhodos, Greece with Amy, 2001; & Dunkelweisen with Nathan in Kulmbach, Germany, 2010
When Nathan showed up, part of what he liked about me when we met was that I had done so much and been so many places (ask him!). And, I knew that even though he hadn’t travelled as much, that he was willing, and sho ‘nuf, we have logged some MILES together! And we have so much fun…in the year we’ve been married: Colorado, Illinois, Vegas, Europe, Portland, Oklahoma, all over Arizona… Next year’s goals are Romania and Boston, at minimum!
In front of the Aya Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey, 2000; Overlooking Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, 2001; & in Munich with Nathan, 2010
Spending two weeks in Europe with Nathan this fall was, literally, a dream come true. I literally spent years dreaming about sharing my life with a man that would be my travel buddy. Praying for it. Now, he’s here, to stay. We’ll have so many more adventures together!
Davos, Switzerland, 2010
So, the answer to my original question, I think, is YES. Travel. Travel far, and travel often. Travel with whomever you have in your life at the moment, even if that is just yourself. You will never regret it.
I am thankful for the solitary travel that taught me about myself; thankful for the friends that grew up with me through our wanderings; and thankful for my permanent travel buddy now.
I love you, Famous. Let’s fill up our passports – we’ve got, I figure, at least 30-40 more years to romp around this crazy world of ours, hand in hand. I will just need the periodic photography trip, and periodic girl trip. (Right, Amy/Julie/Kate/Heather?)
Happy 1st Anniversary my loovvveee.