I want to see the whole world, and I want to write down everything.
— Harriet the Spy
I was always meant to travel. When I was little, I disappeared into exotic lands by burying my nose in books. I started traveling with my family early on, both here and abroad, took my first international trip to London when I was 12, and was fortunate to make my way through most of Europe before I graduated high school. My parents and grandparents placed a lot of value on seeing the world, and I’m grateful that we had the means to do so.
I left for college with the goal of learning all six languages of the United Nations. I soon realized that this was an insurmountable task in a short four years (what do you mean Chinese I doesn’t count as a math credit?!?), but I did come away with some conversational Spanish and a decent command of Russian and a semester of Arabic thrown in for good measure. I actually don’t recommend this — at one point, I had a collection of vocabulary flashcards written in four languages. I studied abroad in St. Petersburg and spent a summer back in London working for a health-focused nonprofit, and both of these experiences opened the door to solo travel. Which I LOVED.
I wanted to figure out how to appease my wanderlust and get paid for it, and I thought about joining the Peace Corps, applying for the Foreign Service, or teaching English in Japan after graduation. But then I got swept up in life as a journalist in Washington, D.C., which — let’s face it — I hoped would eventually lead to a sweet gig with a swanky publication like Travel + Leisure. Nancy Novogrod, I’m still waiting. In the meantime, I’m leaving office life behind for a little while to see more of the world. There is no better time than right now.
You can read more about what motivated me to take this leap, but the moral of the story is that I can’t seem to sit still when there are so many places begging to be explored. And I know that this challenge will stretch me way beyond everything comfortable and help me overcome the hesitation and fear I have about making big decisions. So to celebrate New Year’s Day 2013, I’ll be hopping on a one-way flight to Singapore. The things I see and the people I meet will determine where I go next.
Is it cool? Absolutely. Am I excited? Hell yes. Is it brave? Probably not. I firmly believe that everyone can and should travel early, often, and alone, and that any excuses can be overcome with a solid commitment to the idea. I’ve made it, and it’s happening, and this is the story of my adventure.