A river flowing under a bridge

Did you grow up ever watching those Mary Kate and Ashley movies—the ones where the girls take on these exciting adventures in different countries? Rome, Sydney, London. I dreamed of living that life, waking up to a different city every day without a care in the world. Who wouldn’t love to stay for weeks in a unique country to learn and explore? During my 20s, I took every opportunity to explore the world.

When I was a freshman in college, I had the opportunity to visit the Caribbean, specifically Haiti and Honduras. We climbed through waterfalls and went white water rafting and spelunking. As a sophomore, I embarked on one of the coolest adventures of my life studying abroad in the United Kingdom.

We traveled through Iceland, Scotland and Wales. We explored and stayed in more than 16 different cities throughout England getting to learn from the locals and interacting with travelers from other parts of the world. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience. We stayed in hostels, college dorms and bed and breakfasts.

After graduation, I visited Cuba for the first time and toured through the east coast of the country visiting several cities, including Santa Clara and Santiago, volunteering time to serve their communities. We rode a bus throughout their palm-tree-filled mountains exploring all the beautiful sights of the countries. Believe it or not, I survived the trip with just a backpack in hand.

While filling up the pages of my passport was exhilarating, there came a point in my travels where I’d feel a hole in my heart, one that couldn’t be filled by European croissants and fresh-cut, island coconuts. It’s as if I traveled the entire world to find something that I couldn’t find in other countries, a sense of belonging, a sense of home.

It’s as if I traveled the entire world to find something that I couldn’t find in other countries.

I’m a firm believer that we can create a sense of home wherever we go, but there’s something special about recognizing our affection for our roots. I grew up in a smaller town, where everyone knows everyone. It’s something I oftentimes took for granted because I felt as though it was the same old routine all the time.

In an Instagram-addicted culture, we’ve easily become obsessed with wanderlust and that’s where I found myself, especially in my early 20s. I was always looking to escape and travel to someplace new. I’d pull my hair back, pack my bags and set off on a trip—Julia Roberts’ Eat Pray Love style.

Nowadays, it seems to be the trend. We immerse ourselves into other cultures and hope we somehow win the lottery so we can move abroad to these picturesque cities. Yet, the more cities I visit, the more I fall in love with home—in all of its ordinary and mundane details. There’s something so beautiful about coming to a familiar place where you feel known and understood.

The more cities I visit, the more I fall in love with home.

Oftentimes, we’re placed in situations where we ought to make the most of where we’re at and appreciate the sense of home we’ve built. If we’re not careful, then we can get caught up in wishing we were somewhere else instead of taking value in where we are today. With as many places as I’ve traveled, I’ve come to realize home is a gift. It’s a constant that we cling to for familiarity and belonging. From our mailman to our coffee barista, we find community when we’re home.

I find now when I return from travel, I discover a sense of peace and balance because I’ve returned to a place that I know like the back of my hand. It’s the people who I’m surrounded by on a daily basis or the beautiful Florida palms I see on my way to work every day that make me feel centered again.

There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like coming home.

Do you enjoy traveling? How has it affected your perspective of home?

Image via Coco Tran, Darling Issue No. 19


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