I am addicted to traveling.
I jump at every opportunity to visit a place I have never been before. When I was 2 years old, on one of my first flights, I stood on the tray table waving at other passengers. Even then, I loved being in the air.
Traveling is the sort of adventure where even unfortunate events are usually recalled with a sparkle in your eye after enough time has passed. The good and the bad memories that come from travel provide a lifetime of laughs. Memories of travel are my favorite kind.
Every summer for years, my dad and I have taken a trip together. My mom calls them Amazing Race trips (a show my dad and I used to watch together) because we go as many places and see as many sights as we can while we experience a new city. This is also why she declines to join us every year.
On My Own
Budapest, Hungary, is the farthest from home I have ever been, for the longest time without any members of my family. Some people are uneasy about travel. The uncertainty keeps them awake at night. I had been preparing for this trip since I was 2, perched on that tray table, even though I didn’t know it.
My dad has been everywhere. He traveled all over Europe in the years after graduating from Baylor. I grew up on stories about Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Russia. He taught me everything I know about traveling and is the reason I am able to read maps, guide us to our destinations and book train tickets. Now a college student looking back on those summer trips, sitting in a café in Budapest 5,000 miles from home, I am so thankful for the profound gift my dad gave me by taking time to travel with me: freedom and independence.
When I walk down the street, ride the metro, board a plane to Germany or shop in the Central Market, I am not afraid. Instead I am confident in the skills my dad taught me. Those skills are the reason I have been able to live in Budapest and thrive, rather than just survive.
Father’s Day in the United States was a few days ago, and I am missing my favorite travel buddy. Sometimes I look over my shoulder and half expect my dad to be with me as I walk through the National Gallery in Buda Castle, look at the Berlin Wall in Germany or admire the artists on Charles Bridge in Prague.
No matter where I am in the world, I will always be thankful for the time I spent traveling with my dad. Those trips and experiences are what made me curious about new places and constantly anxious for an adventure. They are what made me a traveler.
Thank you, Dad, for everything you have taught me. No matter where I go in the world, I will always look over my shoulder for you.