I think it’s no news the love Jon and I have for one another – strong enough to survive whole weekend trips to multiple Walmarts for routine MS for a few years
, and definitely strong enough to fly across the globe in Economy for 28 hours to meet with him for just a few days. But, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it also should be no surprise when I tell you that he, and I’m sure he would agree with this, is definitely not my first love.
My first love was, and absolutely continues to be, travel.
My first documented trip to the beach
I started traveling at a very young age, thanks to the influence of my family, their immigrant background and dispersed distribution. My parents were comfortable enough to put me and my brother into my grandma’s arm and have her take us across the country for months at a time. And we would load up our car and drive for hours on end to get to remote vacation spots whenever we got the chance, which luckily was quite often. We grew with travel in our lives and it became easy, familiar and comfortable.
Bariloche, Argentina, in early 90s
When we were slightly older, maybe 14 or 15, they were comfortable enough with us traveling on our own. They would just drop us off and pick us up. This, along with an excellent choice in school of my part which gave me a stellar understanding of the complexity of the world surrounding me, started sparking my interest in getting out there on my own and dreaming of one day exploring it all. This was definitely aided by the fact I grew up in a rather touristically irrelevant city, where there are no beaches, no mountains, no snow, no nature and not a lot of rich history to speak of, so I always had to leave in order to enjoy all of the enrichment of travel. In turn, from an early age, my parents planted the seed so that we would become bilingual. This opened up so many doors to me as a kid as I was attending German, French, Basque and English classes and student exchange programs, scholarships and cultural exchanges came my way.
Iguazu Falls, first domestic solo trip
Rio de Janeiro, first international solo trip
US Capitol, first US solo trip
By the time I reached adulthood (18 outside of the US), it was pretty clear to me. Travel was my love. And I did it with a passion. I never let anything get in the way – budget was never a problem, even when I had no budget, I would still find a way to bring travel into my life. Hard to believe now that we’re almost exclusively flying First or Business Class and staying at five star hotels, but my love of travel wasn’t deterred in the least even when I had no other option than staying at a stinky, shared room at a hostel, or even crash at someone’s couch so that I could still have the experience of a lifetime.
NYC in crutches. Nothing gets in my way
Not only is travel the thing I love most, but it has also brought me the other things in life I love too. I met Jon while traveling, and we have continued to travel together ever since – sharing the same passion has definitely been an interesting adventure now that we do it together. We’ve met friends and acquaintances that we’ll cherish forever, we have enjoyed, and it’s definitely expanded our cultural awareness and comfort zones whenever we’ve been able to see how the rest of the world lives.
Glacier Perito Moreno
So, as I’m dealing with Valentine’s Day today, bombarded by all the crap about flowers, chocolates and sappy Hallmark cards, and given that Jon and I aren’t even in the same city right now, I am reminded that love is not exclusive; you can certainly have more than one love in your life and do it with the same intensity. Love can take many forms, and it definitely is more than just one day, which is why for some time now, most of our gifts to one another have been travel related; it is, in my view, the most intimate gift we could give one another. We have, so far, been to 38 countries together, and the list keeps growing regularly.
Jon and Ben, Private Jet Experience
So, no cheesy love letters from me today, or ever. But I will say, I hope everyone here loves to travel, and they do it with a passion. I hope you all are lucky enough to travel with the love of your life, and that they too share your love for it.
With love (for travel).