Is there such a thing as too young to travel? Don't get me wrong, I am extremely lucky to have the means to travel. I am in no way refuting that. I've had experiences that others would cherish. But after an incredible and thought provoking trip to New York City, I have grown to slightly regret my previous travels. I regret these travels, because I believe I wasn't mature enough to understand and enjoy what I was experiencing.
Last Winter break, I visited my brother in New York City. When he was at work, I explored the city. I had the best trip I've ever experienced. As a 21-year-old, I have developed a level of intellectual curiosity that led me to explore the city in a way I've never done before. I visited the United Nations and remember two interesting situations. While walking around the building, a very nice lady asked me a question about Gaza. She then thought I worked at the United Nations. On the other side of the spectrum, a boy asked me in a demeaning tone if I was actually reading the information in the exhibit, which I proudly assured him, I was. The next day, I went inside the newly opened 9/11 memorial, which was the most memorable experience of my life. I remembered where I was when I was on that dreadful day. Walking through the site, created an emotional connection I've never quite had. I started tearing and was overwhelmed with a sense of camaraderie. As I was there, I saw children seeing the same Museum I was experiencing, but that connection was not present for them. I started to think it might be because the children were not alive on that day and wouldn't remember it, but then I started to think about my previous travels. Then it hit me: They were too young to get the benefits of traveling.
When I was 8 years old, I went with my entire family to see Washington D.C. I saw the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, National Museum of National History, Washington Memorial, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Thomas Jefferson Memorial. From all those incredible places, I remember two experiences from my trip. First of which, is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I recall walking into the Museum and being assigned a person, of whom we would follow their story. I was assigned a child named Leah, which is a name that I also share. I learned about this girl's life and death. I remember feeling sad, but as a child I quickly recovered. I didn't understand the actual horror or pain this girl encountered. I remember the Museum because of our identical name, not because of the experience I had there. As I recently visited the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, I had a more memorable experience. I was able to understand the situation and have an emotional connection that I will always remember. My second memory from D.C. is following my dad for three hours in abandoned streets as he pretended not to be lost. This occurred as my entire family followed him like a herd of sheep until we forced him to allow us to hail a taxi. Out of everything Washington D.C. has to offer, how can those be my most memorable experiences?
A similar situation happened when I visited France. I went to France on a home-stay program with my French class at school. I traveled around the beautiful country for about two weeks, but I don't remember the beauty of the Eiffel Tower or the charming walk on Champs Élysées. I remember my friend tripping on the Cobblestone streets, seeing a large amount of dog feces on the ground, and a surprising bigotry towards the Arabs in the community. I don't remember the beauty of France for which it is well known. This summer, I have a family wedding in France that I have to miss. My family is ecstatic, as they should be, to see France and travel. Honestly, I'm not that disappointed I cannot go. I'm devastated to miss my cousin walking down the aisle, but apathetic to miss a trip to France. Because in my mind, I've already done it. That mentality is a shame. I should want to see the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, and all France has to offer. Instead, I want to see places I've never been. Slightly making me regret my previous trip to France, because I feel now I would create different, possibly more cultured, memories.
My parents never let me go on my senior class trip around Europe. Now I am grateful my parents were against me going, especially after seeing my friends drink their way across Europe. My parents said they wouldn't pay for me to go on a drinking binge. They were right. I want to experience the world the right way. Going on the senior high school trip would not have done that. I believe you need a certain level of maturity to travel and really realize what you are seeing. Cause until a certain age, you really don't care. I believe if I went to Washington D.C. now, especially as an avid reader of American history, I would have an incredible thought provoking experience. If I visited France again, I would also create more memories. Instead, because I visited as a child, I recall the bad memories of these places. So why not visit these places again? Instead of wanting to experience these places again with a new perspective, I find that I would rather spend my time visiting other places that I have no memories of. As a result, I sometimes wish I never visited these sites so I had the urge to see these places for the first time. As a child, I didn't understand the importance of the sites I was witnessing. Now, I want to travel the world and see historical sites. I want to be Intellectually stimulated. Am I wrong? Was I an immature anomaly that was just uninterested? Or does traveling when young actually create unappreciative memories that deter you from traveling there later in life?
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