Welcome to Travel Bucket List Wednesday! Today’s article will be quite different. Yet, somehow, more inspirational. It’ll describe Who, What, When, and Where has defined my travel inspiration throughout the years. These places, people, and circumstances have shaped my own travel bucket list, so they merit a mention on this week’s #TravelBL post. I hope that these personal tales and stories of my struggles will push you to pursue your own dreams, overcome your own fears, and understand that life’s circumstances truly work out on our favor–if we have the right attitude.
While EasyJet’s “Inspiration Initiative” competition is now closed, I still wanted to share my stories…
My Travel Inspiration: Who to blame?
While we could blame Nefertiti (more on that later), I must say that who truly made me take action was James (*pseudonym used). Yes…the protagonist of my Travel and a Broken Heart open letter.
Theories about why he broke up with me have morphed and are still somewhat of a mystery to me. Yet, one thing is certain: James is who ultimately pushed me to pursue my dreams and, most importantly, to travel. It was him who first talked to me about teaching English abroad while being able to save money and travel the world. It was him who made me believe I had it in me to someday travel indefinitely. It was him who assured me that gave wings to my wildest travel inspiration and told me those dreams were more than attainable…
What kick-started my wanderlust?
James’ love, and the broken he left behind, pushed me to travel–immediately. However, my travel inspiration, that persistent little bug, had been in me for years before I moved to the U.S. to go to college. In fact, my interest to learn English at a young age made me flip through foreign TV channels. That habit, eventually, led me to National Geographic, Discovery Kids, and History Channel. Soon, I was intrigued: Where are these beautiful places and impressive creatures? How can I see them? What do I have to do to get the money to do so?
Those, my friends, are the things that created this travel monster: Learning English and travel/history channels.
When did I feel the strongest urge to see the world, though?
Sooner than you may think. In fact, that day, the exact moment that fire was ignited, is still vivid in my mind…
It was the summer before I started 4th grade.
Mom had just purchased my textbooks for the new school year. As usual, I quickly unwrapped each and one of them to start reading. Flipping through the pages of the turquoise “Historia del Mundo Antiguo” (History of the Ancient World), a photo caught my eye: Nefertiti. I loved her golden jewelry and black eyeliner. For the next couple of days, I would be devouring every single page depicting Ancient Egypt.
I must go there. Someday. I must see these temples with my own eyes.
And just like that, I finally made it happen in 2008. For a full year I was living in Egypt, learning Arabic thanks to a full-ride academic scholarship. For a year before that, I prepped intensely, fueled by the passion ignited in me that summer of 1996. After that year in the Middle East, I embarked to Morocco to study some more and, 7 months later, my country counter clicked past 20.
Where did I draw most of my travel inspiration?
While many places inspired me to travel, Cairo, Egypt was quite defining in my life. I was traveling with a broken heart and fighting depression back then for the second time. I felt quite defiant toward life in general. The emotions this huge city got out of me were intense. Some days I was head over heels for it; while on others, I absolutely hated it.
On the ups, I was deeply interested in interacting with the locals, practice my Arabic, and get to know Egypt deeply. I visited the Pyramids of Giza 4 times, found my favorite place on Earth in Dahab, sailed down the Nile on a felucca, and came across dozens of Ancient Egyptian temples.
The downs made me scream in the middle of a dusty room and want to get out of the country ASAP. It happens…and it so also happens that Egypt is close to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. So when I had enough, I simply went on an epic solo Middle East road trip, hitchhiking and Couchsurfing through historical lands.
Furthermore, after my study abroad program in Egypt, I had to stay abroad. Where did I end up? In another study abroad program in Morocco! From there, I visited Europe several times. Then, in 2010, I came back to the U.S. to face post-travel depression and learned that a digital nomad career was for me.
Thanks for all the lessons and travel inspiration, Egypt!