Updated: Nov 26, 2019
I wanted to see the world and appreciate culture and customs outside of my environment. Hi, my name is Toni Reid, and I love to travel, and I want to inspire others to do the same despite having a 9-5. Many of my trips were planned far in advance, so they were not a burden to me financially. I did not put any of them on a credit card, and most of my vacations were as a soloist. Gone are the kid-friendly family vacations, and since 2015 I have traveled across the U.S. and abroad at least 50 times despite having a 9-5 job, and here is what I've learned along the way.
People will tell you that preparation is vital when you want to travel. It is.
Working 40-hours a week, not using a single credit card to "layaway" my vacation, and planning has afforded me to pay for all of my trips. But here's something they don't tell you sooner or later, you'll realize that despite all your efforts of planning somethings still happen.
During my first vacations, I read reviews, looked at photos, and was confident I picked a good hotel. Arriving at my "motel," or at least that is what I thought it was because of the type of traffic and people I noticed as I waited to be checked-in. I got on my cell phone to search for a safer, cleaner, and better quality hotel as I walked down Los Angel's highway with my white linen pants pulling my luggage. Lesson: Everything doesn't always go as planned, so you have to be flexible and always be ready to adjust your plan.
People are Friendly
If newspapers, television, and the internet are the extent of your worldly experiences, you are in for a treat. There are friendly people everywhere. Every country has good and bad people, places, and events.
During my 2-hour ride from Tangier to Chechaouen, Morocco, my driver, and I were engaged in a conversation about how women in his country now have the same freedom and rights as men. Then the topic of dogs came up and how he didn't understand why Americans would want to own Pitbulls. He said, he saw on the news how "dangerous" they are, and I replied that if I listened to everything I heard on the news, I would not be in Africa. We both smiled and agreed you can't always believe the hype. Lesson: Get your news from a myriad of sources and you'll find that the world is safer than you think and that there are friendly people all over.
You Will Never Be Alone
My family and friends either tried to discourage me or say I'm brave to travel.
Solo traveling has allowed me to set my itinerary without having to consider anyone else. I would rise with the sun and walk from my hotel to get some pictures before places like the Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain is filled with tourist. Then I would head to Waffle Barcelona for some quick breakfast. Next, I'd carry on with my day, which usually did not end until the sunset. My typical day when I travel is often 12 hours a day; then I would repeat each day the same way. Most people would not enjoy this itinerary, so sometimes solo traveling is best.
Along the way, I always meet some fascinating people like the young lady I met while I was in Greece. I had initially met her and her mom when I was in Cuba. We connected on the fact that she was from New York City (NYC), and I was from the Nation's Capital, and we both had plans of visiting Greece at the same time. Once I was at a shuttle bus stop in NYC on my way to JFK airport, and this couple asked me about my backpack. The backpack conversation lead to a discussion about one of the famous museums in Madrid - Prado. Another trip, I interjected myself in a conversation with a family who was going to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm afraid of heights. Still, I wasn't going to let that stop me from experiencing one of the highlights of San Franciso, CA, so I joined them, and we had so much fun walking across the bridge that we did it twice. Lesson: You're never alone because you can make friends anywhere.
Reduce Your Footprint
A person's travel footprint is made up of the emissions from each mode of transport they use. This is generally dominated by driving, bus, rail, and air travel. A vehicle is the most significant footprint, followed by air travel. In each case, emissions result directly from fuel combustion.
For us travel lovers it is probably safe to say that traveling less isn't desirable so to be ecotourism responsible consider bus or train. When Europe, I like to travel like the Europeans and utilize the train system when possible, like leaving Naples to Pompeii vs. the airplane because the train was faster, cheaper, and more eco-friendly. Another way to reduce your footprint is to combine trips. If you're in Madrid, Spain, hop on a ferry and visit the continent of Africa. Morocco is only a ferry ride away, but the boat is three additional hours to the four hours on a plane. So make sure you plan more than a day trip to get maximum vacation time while being ecofriendly. I personnel chose the flight route, but once I was in Spain, I used their train to get around other cities within Italy. Lesson: By walking or cycling where possible, it reduces your footprint. If you have to fly, fly economy, and pack light, fly direct, or fly during the day. Studies have shown that night flights have a more significant impact on the climate.
There's Value in Getting Out of Your Environment
Every time I travel, I find that I view my life and the world from a different perspective. As life progresses, we keep it moving with our heads down. Any problems we have, we are in them, our lives become routine, and our existence, our thoughts, and our circle of friends remain the same. When you travel, you get outside of your problems, and you find a solution to that problem. When you travel your mindset changes because it improves your mood, and it recharges you, and your circle of friends is widened. Lesson: Traveling is a positively unique, life-changing experience.
I now work to travel, and it is a priority in my budget each month, It has been non-stop going for at least 5-years straight for me and counting. Bonus lessons, get out of your comfort zone. Develop an interest in other cultures, religions, and lifestyles. I promise you will have no regrets.
“LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.”