For the second time in as many years, I booked a ticket to a land that never made an appearance on my bucket list and now I'm going to try and convince you to do the same.
In May of 2012 I spent 12 days in Bali, Indonesia soaking in the sights and sounds of a world I'd only ever seen in pictures. I ventured to the other side of the world to follow my best friend, who happens to have an incurable case of wanderlust. Fast forward two years and she's doing it again. This time, South America is her destination and with arguably very little convincing, I booked a ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina to join her at the end of her 2+ month backpacking tour.
"Convincing me to travel" isn't exactly the most accurate phrase. I'd imagine very few people actually don't want to travel. More fittingly perhaps, convincing me to spend money/take vacation days/put "regular" life on pause is definitely more appropriate. Vacation days are precious, regular life will go on without you and the how and what to spend your own hard-earned money on takes some serious consideration and calculations.
That's why straying away from your own bucket list seems almost counterproductive. We make a list of places we want to go and then we make moves, financial or otherwise, towards getting there. When we are finally "adult enough" to plan and go on our own vacations we need to choose wisely. We can, for all intents and purposes go anywhere we want, but we can't go everywhere we want.
Destinations -- like Bali and now Buenos Aires for me -- that never even trickled in your mind as spots you'd like to pin on your very own travel map are the exact destinations you should go to, at least once, even if it doesn't exactly seem like the right fit. For example, I am a vegetarian and I'm going to Argentina. Will I be hungry? Of course not, but virtually every person has reminded me that Argentina is the beef capital of the world and followed that with, "why would you go there?" I will undoubtedly learn something new about myself and if you give this non-bucket list adventure a try, here are five reasons you will too...
1. You will step out of your comfort zone.
When you're on the top of a volcano at sunrise and a monkey comes over for some of your bread, you give it to him. Even if you are a person who doesn't like animals (read: kinda, sorta afraid of animals) and even if feeding a monkey is one of the most unnerving things you've ever done. I'm living proof, you will survive.
2. You'll gain a little perspective about, well, everything.
The world is a very big place and there's so much more out there to spend time really thinking about. Your train being delayed, breaking up with your boyfriend and your student loans are certainly no laughing matters, but they aren't the end all be all.
3. It will clear your head.
There is something about going on an adventure that totally clears your head. Maybe it's the perspective you've gained in #2, but decisions that needed to be made or situations back in "regular life" that feel like the highest mountains to climb, suddenly turn into manageable tasks. Ahh, clarity is a beautiful thing.
4. You'll make mistakes and that's okay.
Walking a very far distance in the wrong direction to find yourself in the furthest location from where you really want to be is something everyone should experience, hopefully only once. It's aggravating to the nth degree and could even be a little frightening, but what you do next is really where you'll grow. So don't sweat it and take comfort in knowing that everybody does it.
5. You'll appreciate home/friends/family that much more.
You really never know just how lucky you are, until you see the other side. Talking with locals or fellow travelers, your eyes will be wide open to life far outside of your comfortable little bubble. It could be worse. Traveling is the best reminder that what you do have, whatever it may be, isn't so bad after all.
My point is, don't limit yourself. Whatever the reason may be that a city, country, or region of the world didn't make your bucket list, throw it away if the opportunity arises to go there. Don't just see the sights you think you should see and go the places you think you should go.
Here's that living proof I was talking about in #1...