Choosing To Live The Life I Want To Create
It seems much easier to make a life changing shift in the way you live your life if you’re 23 with no responsibilities, just graduated from college and even the slightest idea that you want to buck the system and create your own path through life. What if you’re somewhere in the middle? Not fresh out of college, but not yet ready for retirement?
How can I take more meaningful trips? This all stemmed from my volunteer work and travels with Habitat for Humanity. That very first trip to John’s Island in South Carolina would have such a profound effect on me that it would eventually lead me to make major changes in my life.
During that first trip I met the most diverse, amazing group of people. That was the whole idea, to bring together this group of people from different walks of life together for one reason…to help someone else. it takes a certain type of person to give up the precious little time that you have for vacation and dedicate that time to help others. Granted, half of the group was retired, but the others weren’t. In any case, we ranged in age from 21 to early 70’s and we each brought something unique to the experience. When you travel with people for an extended period of time you leave a bit of yourself with the group and vice versa. Good or bad, that mark is lasting.
That first trip had such a positive experience on me that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found about this program long ago. I was very familiar with Habitat by that time because I had known about them for years and had begun to volunteer with them in Northern Virginia regularly, but it wasn’t until after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that I found about their Global Village program. That trip to South Carolina was a game changer for me in terms of travel and I couldn’t see myself traveling any other way. I did take other types of trips, cruises, with friends and family but it wasn’t my preferred way to travel.
Since then I’ve been to Costa Rica, Kenya twice, Malawi, and the Philippines with Habitat and it has definitely change the way I see the world and has helped me to put life into perspective. To realize what’s really important. When I returned from my first trip to Kenya I stopped shopping for things that I didn’t need for about a year because I felt the wastefulness of it all. It was really hard to come back to my life at the time after spending two weeks emersed in that way of life. That’s something that we talked about as a team, readjusting to life back home. Things that seemed to be so important, were not anymore. Like buying that next pair of cute shoes, and believe me I would be the first in line. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love a cute pair of shoes but it’s not what makes me happy. Being more mindful of the things that I was doing, not wasting water, not wasting food, not overspending.
After every Habitat trip a few of us would stay behind in the country for a few additional days to see more of that country and we would stay at locally run and owned eco resorts. These resorts were not just “eco-friendly” but socially responsible, providing an economic base for the communities that they’re in. This was the way I loved to travel but it didn’t occur to me until recently that this was my niche, this was what I loved about travel, this was what I cared about when it came to travel.
I figured out that I also wanted to introduce travel to youth from underserved communities that may otherwise never learn about travel and other cultures. I wanted to start a cultural exchange and travel foundation for youth. Figuring that out has been the hardest part of this transition.
Now the easy work begins.