Somehow I managed to pack 18 days worth of clothes, shoes and toiletries (that covered everything from hiking in the rain to nice dinners) into my 50-liter backpack and only a book, camera and journal in a small daypack. But when I finally arrived in Paris on August 23 I quickly realized it was not the luggage that was weighing on my tense shoulders. It was my emotional baggage.
It was a long travel day getting to Paris. Following two flights and about 30 minutes of sleep in a 36-hour period I was cranky. Now, we were finally in Paris and I was hunched over holding my Osprey pack on my back while balancing my daypack on my chest in a non-air conditioned train during a freak Paris heat wave.
We arrived at our Airbnb to find a filthy studio (also with no air conditioning and a broken fan). UGH. I was over it, but with only 48 hours in Paris there was no time to waste or waller.
I changed into the only pair of shorts I packed since the heat wave was much warmer than anticipated and we immediately hit the crepe stand below our studio. It took only one bite of that scrumptious treat for me to turn my attitude upside down.
These spouts of grumpiness returned a handful of times during my trip. They didn’t often linger long but here I am in the middle of a travel year and I am in Europe with my best friend: What the hell did I have to be grumpy about?
Looking back on the trip as we prepare for our next adventure in Yellowstone, I’m realizing, once again, that I have a lot to learn and traveling is going to push me to my limits. It turns out this is one of my favorite things about traveling.
For me traveling has always been about personal growth and, this year, about growing with James. Before our yearlong adventure began, I imagined that would be learning about and accepting other cultures and opinions and becoming more open-minded. Yes, that is a huge part of the travel-learning experience, but now I am looking forward to the personal challenges that the rest of the year brings.
It seems this will be the next step in finding out who I am and testing myself in ways I could never imagine. Traveling has already tested me physically, emotionally and mentally. It is challenging my marriage, my views, my plans for the future and I already feel stronger than I did before.
I am surprising myself every week. A year ago, hiking in the rain would have been miserable, but now it is one of my favorite travel experiences of all time. I would have never imagined living in a 23-foot camper would be doable or even fun but off to Yellowstone I go.
I told James before our trip began that I felt like preparing for our yearlong adventure was “too easy.” I wanted a challenge. I wanted to be tested and to have to sacrifice for this amazing opportunity. Well, be careful what you wish for. Today, I heed the challenges and I am so excited about the new “adventures” (this is how James and I have been referring to the struggles of our trip) and new lessons I will learn and the growth that will take place because of them.
Because I know you’re anxiously awaiting more detail about our European adventures — I’m working on photos from our trip now so keep an eye out on Instagram and Facebook for those and an upcoming blog post!
What do you find most challenging about travel? Please comment below. I love hearing from you guys!