Choosing Experiences Over Things: A First Time Traveler’s Perspective

Choosing Experiences Over Things: A First Time Traveler’s Perspective

I’m an 18-year-old girl from Houston, Texas. I always had a dream to learn about everything and everyone. I realized that I couldn’t do that just sitting in a room and reading about it, but setting out for an adventure to learn. Everyone can tell you it’s crazy and impossible, but they aren’t curious enough to try it. I know that money won’t fly out of the sky so of course, the planning of reaching this goal was already a journey in itself.

When I was 15 years old there was this book that I came across called, “The Alchemist.” Although it shortly became my favorite book, I read it not understanding very much and only getting out of it this vague message, follow your dreams. I then picked up the book again when I was 17 and still missed the fact that the setting was in Spain. I turned 18 and I wanted to set out and travel the world. When I was picking on the first place I wanted to travel, I just automatically chose Spain, not knowing much about the place; I guess I was just destined to pick this place because it just felt like I should be there.

The book that inspired me to choose my first destination.

I know it’s such an odd explanation of why I chose Spain but I also heard about it many times as “the place you should put on your travel bucket list.” I didn’t know much about Spain, just  big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. I picked it just really knowing about the soccer culture, and I wanted to find out more.

The way I was able to pay for this trip was by saving all the money that I worked in part-time jobs. I started saving in 8th grade not knowing what for, but then I decided that it was for travel. When I came across this program and the opportunity to travel, I knew that I was going to invest in something that would stay with me forever. I always opt to spend money on experiences rather than material things, so saving was a little easier for me.

I know it’s hard to just save money, because life gets in the way. I always kept in my mind that I had a dream to go to all these places and the money wasn’t going to be magically handed to me. I had to sacrifice eating out, buying a coffee and just spending money on the little things that didn’t matter. I opt for thrifted clothes and home cooked meals rather than expensive jewelry and take out meals. And of the course helping out my family was a must, but I always put money aside for my goal.

The two that allowed me to see more of the world!

I see this experience being one that holds a lot of growth. Growth in my experiences, growth for my knowledge as well as the family’s, growth in general because I know that living with a host family, I surely will have to get out of my comfort zone. I see this trip being one with many exchanges in culture, laughter, and love. Regards if there are many things we do differently, I know that everything can be fixed through communication and empathy.

I also see this being only the beginning of my travels and I know that this one is going to a great experience. Whether good or bad, I believe that every experience is a learning one and as long as I go on with that attitude what could go wrong? Of course, I understand that every day may not be a crazy adventure, but it’s still going to different and I should be present for all of it.

Nini Vo, from Texas, is a Greenheart Travel First Time Traveler Scholarship recipientLearn more about Greenheart Travel’s scholarship opportunities to help you travel for a change!

One thought on "Choosing Experiences Over Things: A First Time Traveler’s Perspective"

  1. Evie Patterson says:

    Hi Nini! I am shocked that The Alchemist inspired your desire to travel because it inspired me as well! I am also 18 and have worked jobs while attending school. Just trying to save money for experiences worth spending. Your post has motivated me so much in my current dreams of traveling abroad to connect with locals. Thank you for writing out such a wonderful testament of your experience because it gave me the push I needed to feel fully confident about pursuing this.

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