I am not going to lie; lately most of my travel to faraway places has been through the colorful lens of Anthony Bourdain or through the evocative travel writing of Pico Iyer.
When I was younger travel was defined by going abroad to new countries that I had never been to and the thrill of getting a new stamp in my passport. Backpacking through Europe for a few months after college or traveling solo through Poland for a few weeks was the norm.
Now I have chosen a fixed life where I am working on pursuing a career in writing that will take time to build and which unfortunately means traveling abroad is not an easy option financially and priority-wise. Instead of saving up for plane tickets, I need to pay rent in one of my favorite (but very costly) parts of the world. I am not complaining though, because for the first time I am following my heart and doing what I truly love.
Yet there are days when I question whether I am still qualified to write about travel when most of my trips this year have been within a two-hour plane ride or less. Doubts fill my mind such as: are my local adventures really worth writing about if I am not exploring destinations halfway across the world?
The thing I have come to realize about travel is that it is a state of mind, not something that is defined by the miles that you accumulate. I believe it is possible to have equally meaningful adventures both locally and halfway across the globe.
I have chosen a path in life that means day and weekend trips are what define travel for me now and these have provided me with many memorable explorations in nearby destinations. Spending a whole day eating my way through Oakland’s Chinatown or finding an unexpected redwood forest half an hour away from my home have been some of the unexpected highlights.
I’m incredibly fortunate that I live in the Bay Area, a complex patchwork of cultures and cuisines from around the world. I can spend a day doing one of my favorite pastimes: traveling through my taste buds. Eating kimbap from a tiny market in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond neighborhood on Saturday and on Sunday heading south to sample some homemade mochi in San Jose’s Japantown.
This does not mean in any way that I am ready to stop traveling around the world. I still have a long bucket list of places to cross off, including at the top: South Korea, Iceland and Brazil, but I know that this will come in due time. Step by step. I wholeheartedly believe everything will fall in to place.
For all of you who also share an insane case of wanderlust but do not always have the means to travel as much as you would like, I hear you. Make sure you do not stop working towards those travel goals and keep dreaming of those faraway lands. In the meantime, do not forget to go out and explore the different worlds that await you in your own backyard, because they are infinite.
How has your personal definition of travel changed over the years?