The clock ticks faintly as I sip from my ever-present water bottle. It’s the refillable type, of course, but that’s not really the point.
As I sip, I read familiar words on the screen. Some newspaper desperate to monetize is going on about things I already know: Americans aren’t using their vacation time and are less happy than their European counterparts.
“I’ve heard that one before,” I say to myself while brushing a few stray hairs from my face. I’m still in my yoga pants as I begin my day at the office. The dog snores at my feet and the dishwasher whirls from the kitchen. My fingers dance across the keyboard to open my inbox, which causes an inadvertently loud sigh to escape my lips. I switch tabs back the vacation article hoping to delay the inevitable. Ads for the latest mid-sized luxury sedan and a newly formulated hair-strengthening shampoo blink at me from the sidebar.
It’s true, what they write. So many of us don’t take the time to recharge and disconnect. We don’t explore enough and often see adventure as something wild and unattainable. We sit and stare at our backlit screens, dreaming of sunny beach holidays and magnificently unscripted days.
You see; this is why we go. We take trips to new places and attempt to carve out time for our usual haunts. Whether near or far, exploration is often on the agenda.
Truth be told, it is not always easy to live life here while planning respite there. We scrimp and save and plan. Sometimes adventure has to be delayed a bit as we scrimp and save just a little more. We skip expensive lattes, pricey events and new clothes and – sure enough – we always find a way to get away.
This wasn’t always the case. Three short years ago, I found myself surrounded by taupe cubicle walls and a nagging suspicion that I was meant to be someplace else. I had worked hard to earn a decent income and had taken only a few lengthy vacations since starting college nearly 10 years before. Paying the mortgage had taken priority over a more adventurous life. While the work was worthwhile and the people were lovely, I found myself completely burned-out at the ripe old age of 27.
After months of planning and long discussions with my husband starting my own business, I walked away from my stable 8-to-5 office job. I knew that we would be living on less, but doors were opening to an entirely different chapter. He would work in an office and I would work from home. He would bring home the majority of the income and I would bootstrap together some semblance of a creative career.
I explored new definitions of the word “work.” Some attempts failed, while others kept me afloat. Personal and professional heartbreaks occurred, yet one thing remained the same: the urge to go and see and do kept growing. Somewhere along the way, that urge turned into a sense of urgency. I simply had to explore more of this world than what I had seen online and I needed to venture beyond the treasures in my own backyard.
So, we went. We explored places we had never been and met up with friends and family in places we know and love. Those big city stays and back road jaunts have awakened something. We’ve concluded that seeking adventure won’t always be convenient or easy. In fact, it may sometimes be impossible. However, there is comfort in knowing we won’t be a statistic. Personal growth through travel and exploration is something we can’t turn our backs on. We refuse to be unhappy Americans who rarely look up from the screen or step away from the office.
This is why we go.
We go because we’re determined. We go to learn more about the world and more about ourselves. We go to connect on the most basic of human levels. We go because – in our minds – there is no better way to live a life.