Growing up just north of New York City in the beautiful Hudson Valley, my family regularly road tripped up and down the East Coast to visit my relatives in Philadelphia, Boston, and Richmond, Virginia so I was well acquainted with those long car rides at an early age. My sisters and I would often play that license plate game to see how many different states we could count. During my sophomore year of high school, I was fortunate to be able to travel internationally for the first time to Europe on a school orchestra trip. I got to experience London, Paris and Amsterdam for seven days as a 14-year old. I couldn't have ever imagined that I, this tall skinny kid, would grow up to visit 40 countries, 40 US states and all 7 continents! And mostly on my own!
But the true travel path for me would start many years later. I had traveled domestically alone but really yearned to head abroad again. Friends would often talk about doing a girls trip to Mexico but usually the plans never materialized. And because I didn't want to leave the country on my own, I went nowhere out of the US for a few years which was extremely frustrating. Meanwhile my cousin, who was two years older than me, had been re-diagnosed with cancer in his 30s after beating it as a teen. Unfortunately the cancer came back with a vengeance and knowing he had 3-6 months left, he wanted to take a "last hurrah" journey since he had always dreamt about going to Las Vegas. He discussed it with his doctors and their response was "why would you want to go there...you're dying you know", and he said "yes...that's exactly the point." So they allowed him to go to Vegas with his best friend for a week and upon his return he told me that he had the time of his life. I was so happy for him that he got his dream adventure. Four weeks later, he was gone. I was left devastated by his passing but also got very clear that I had my good health and full life ahead of me...so what was I waiting for? Months later, I bought a solo ticket to Cozumel, Mexico only telling my family and boss and I left for a week. And guess what...I had the time of MY life. I met people from all over the world, went parasailing, found my way around the island, chanced taking the "chicken bus" from Playa del Carmen to the ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum and was in awe of not only surviving the experience but craving more.
Once I came back, some of my friends were highly upset that I had left without telling them much less inviting them. Honestly I really didn't care at that point because I knew I would never again wait on others to do the things I wanted to do. And I owe that to my cousin, his last wish for himself became my ongoing wish for me. #REALTALK...PLEASE DON'T WAIT ON OTHERS TO LIVE YOUR LIFE!