I was born to travel.
As a little girl I would sit with National Geographic and dream of seeing the world. At nineteen years old I was officially bit by the travel bug. I returned from a summer in hot and sticky Rangoon, Myanmar with a stomach bug, a desperate need for a hot shower and a deep longing to see more.
I did see more.
I traveled solo to fifteen countries over the next nine years. Some places like Albania and Kenya caught my heart and held my feet for long stints. Other places like Cairo and Prague had me for a week or two. Each trip was unique and each transformed me in a new way.
I’ve often thought about why I live to travel.
Recently someone asked me this. They wanted to know what on earth is beneath it all. Why do you travel? Why do you care if other people travel? What does it matter to you? Why would you create a business that empowers others to see the world?
I paused and looked out the window of the little cafe I was sitting at.
I suppose it does seem odd to some. Being so incredibly passionate about travel that I would sell everything my family owns, move my husband and two toddlers out of the country to see what’s out there. It’s a little nuts to the person who is quite content driving a two hour commute to work in a cubicle and collect a secure paycheck every Friday.
Enjoying a slower pace of life is nice.
Let’s be honest, the pace at which the average American moves gives the rest of the world whiplash. Having the time to enjoy a two hour meal and conversations around the table is normal for us. We don’t put in twelve hour work days. Ever. We work around our boys naps and family walks.
Experiencing new is fun.
I love researching where we can find the best chilaquiles in town. Sitting at the center square to listen to music with my boys makes me smile. Experiencing a different language and culture makes me feel alive. Seeing myself and my birth country through new eyes are important to me.
And yet none of these are why I am most passionate about exploring the world.
The reason I am committed to traveling to every country and why I’ll never stop inviting others to join me is because once we go and see and experience life with new people we realize they bleed like us. They love their children like we love ours. They want the best for their families in the same way we do. They laugh and they cry.
They want to love and be loved.
One day as we are lugging our bags around a tiny village or sitting for afternoon tea, we find we are incapable of hating and fearing those who live across imaginary lines we call borders. We find it impossible to see ourselves as better than them. In fact, we no longer even think “us versus them”. We refuse to use patriotism to bash another. One day we find ourselves making friends with and falling in love with the very people we may have been raised to dislike or be suspicious of.
Our eyes are opened and we see we are the same.
This is risky business. It’s daring in our society. It’s not what the regulars would do. It sometimes feels like we’re hanging over the edge. It is absolutely going against what the news advises, what friends and relatives suggest and travelers, we are changing the world.
We are amplifying love.
We are uniting humanity.
We are celebrating the wonderful world we live in.
All because we chose to get our passports, buy a ticket and go!
Monique Alvarez is an adventurer and unconventional entrepreneur. She shares her traveling family’s shenanigans at MoniqueAlvarezEnterprises.com