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Jaimee Ratliff Headshot

An Open Letter to Travel

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Dear Travel,

I've been stalking you again.

This makes the fifth time today -- and I haven't even had breakfast yet.

I've had this happy addiction for a while now and it shows no signs of letting up. I'm certain of it -- so certain that I've diagnosed myself with a permanent incurable itch called wanderlust. Everyone around me is self-diagnosing also because it's a pretty contagious addiction. I'm sure you've heard about it before. After all, you're the genius behind this intense desire to see more of the world. What a clever and charming thing you are, travel. You really know how to capture hearts.

Everyday I find myself more consumed by you than the last. I skim through your beautiful photos routinely. From the most far away places that seem out of reach, to destinations that are just a stone's throw away from me. I read about your magical undiscovered places in blogs, magazines and books and I notice inspiring quotes about you that will make anyone quickly realize if they aren't spending their days wandering the globe and taking great risks, they aren't doing this whole living thing right. Lately, my favorite thing to do is enter random airport codes on booking sites just to see how much it will cost to get to you. Tucson, Seychelles, Taiwan -- anyplace will do.

I'm not sure how you've captivated me like this or when this obsession officially began -- but what a journey it has been and a sweet one at that. From celebrating birthdays in New York City with friends to weekend road trips in Texas to aimlessly sauntering solo in Europe, you've shown me the true beauty of the journey and that a dash of spontaneity and courage are the two key ingredients that make life so delicious. I've risen early to watch sunrises because I've heard the rumors that each one looks slightly different depending where you are around the globe -- the beautiful rumors are true. I've enjoyed tapas and sipped sangria with complete strangers in Spain and soon realized they weren't strange at all. They are just like me -- on a search for something more, something new, and something different.

As you can see, my passion for you travel doesn't begin or end with me alone.

You have a powerful way of leaving a mark, a lasting impression on the souls of everyone you encounter. So powerful that you have led some to quit their day jobs, sell their expensive possessions and hit the high road to experience more of you because of a simple experience that left them wanting to venture out one more time -- only the next time would be further and longer with no plans for the final destination and no plans of returning home. That's really quite admirable of you.

You have broadened our thinking by introducing us to different people from all walks of life and shown us that although we do not all look, speak, or think the same, we all are essentially one because of our identical desires to live happily on our own terms. You have helped us define what the true meaning of freedom is and taught us that it's okay not to aspire for the same dream that others have defined for us. Instead of fitting into a mold, through our unique individual experiences, we now have the ability and courage to create our own.

I don't know how you do it, travel. But I love it.

I'm looking forward to the next time we'll meet again. I know it will be very soon because I have some big plans coming up.

And this time, I'm going further than the last.

This piece was originally posted on Jaimee's blog, This Way North.