I just came back from a wonderful long weekend and transformative experience in Washington, D.C., visiting family and enjoying the Travel & Adventure Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Unlike most trips, this was an impulsive one without a great deal of planning and analyzing (normally I go nuts over every little detail, due in no small part to my obsessive-compulsive and perfectionist tendencies). Like most trips, though, I felt anxious and worried 1-2 days ahead of the trip, thinking, “What the hell was I thinking?!” This is not an uncommon thought, believe it or not!! It’s weird that I still get cold feet (having a limited travel budget and time off from work does that to a person), but I guess I’ll chalk it up as another of my rather unique, err, “quirks.” The short time period (I was flying in late Thursday evening and coming home first thing Monday morning) and my uncertainties about enjoying the travel expo – especially since I was going by myself – sent doubting thoughts creeping into my brain.
Upon the eve of my departure, after attending the second day of the show and spending time with my family, it became clear that I was meant to go on this trip. Where I’d normally hug my backpack close to my body on the Metro or on the streets, I felt free and secure; where I’d normally have every little thing accounted for on a schedule and detailed itinerary, I went with the flow and realized that “mistakes” – like walking into the wrong museum – can color your experience and make for fun surprises!
I think the expo and listening to, meeting and talking with the speakers (Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, Andrew McCarthy & Don Wildman) gave me clarity that travel is where I should be, that it is what I should be doing, saving and sacrificing for. I say often that I want to spend less on material “stuffs” and use that money toward travel. In reality, I just haven’t done that. But, due in part to the newfound clarity I was awakened to through being completely enthralled and inspired by the travel speakers, as well as feeling confident and comfortable in my travels throughout the city, I’ve decided that I don’t need to have the fanciest apartment or the newest car – travel is life, and life is what I want, not “stuff” that I’ll forget about years from now…
I believe this trip/experience also gave me confidence. It wouldn’t have been shocking for me to want to meet and get autographs from famous people, but actually doing it freaks me out. After each encounter at the travel show, however, anxiety gave way to excitement. What helped was the realization that they, too, are just normal people who, like me, love to travel.
Upon further reflection and discussion of the trip with friends and coworkers, I’m a bit floored that it felt so life-changing. Andrew McCarthy, one of the speakers, said travel is transformative, powerful and emotional, and that “[Travel] matters. This is important. It is the impetus beneath everything.” This trip was just that and really encouraged me want to pursue travel as more than just a hobby and thing I like to do, compelling me to blog, write and photograph until I can be up on that stage sharing my stories, experiences and travels with the world. One of my coworker friends said she hasn’t seen me this excited in quite a long time! We’ll see how it goes… 🙂
**Stay tuned for in-depth posts on my experiences in D.C., including the Travel & Adventure Show!