How Travel Changed Me

England, Traveling Solo & Together — By on December 22, 2011 at 8:15 am
By Brianna Entler
Special to Lost Girls
Big BenIt was the day before I was to take my first trip out of the country. My sister and I would be flying to England to visit a friend I had met the previous semester. I was doing the usual pre-trip checks. Clothes? Check. Camera? Check. Charger? Check. Passport? Check—Wait a minute… Male? “My passport says I’m male? Mom! My passport says male!”

And my passport did say male even though I was so very clearly: not male. All I could think was I knew this trip was too good to be true. After a few frantic and costly (they charge 20 dollars a minute to talk to a real person) hours on the phone, we finally got through to someone in US Immigration. “Oh don’t worry about it,” the expensive lady on the line said, “it happens all the time.” Comforting, I thought, but at least I was still going to be able to go.

The trip was a whirlwind of events and, as I reflect back, the days all seem to blur together. We walked through caves and castles, I drank my first beer, and we took pictures next to buildings that were older than the US. On one of our last days we took the train up to London.

The day didn’t go exactly as planned. When we woke up that morning the weather forecast called for rain. No big deal, we thought, ‘we had dealt with rain before.’ We decided to go ahead and take the trip anyway. We spent the rest of the day with our heads hidden under hoods trying to shield our faces from the freezing rain. We were soaked and it was unbearably cold. But I remember exactly where I was in Hyde Park, dodging raindrops and praying that I didn’t lose my feet to frostbite, when I fell in love with the city. I knew then that it wouldn’t be my only trip to the UK and I vowed to come back. Two years later, I graduated from college and moved to London, by myself.

Since that first trip I’ve lived in the UK twice, moved myself across the Atlantic four times. And made that transatlantic crossing more times than I can remember. As I sit writing this, I am in a crowded restaurant, alone. I’ve seen movies, alone. I’ve gone on trips, rented flats, hailed cabs, been mistaken for a local and given directions, all by my myself.

But, on the other hand, I’ve made countless friends. Some I will never see again and others that will be in my life until I’m old and gray and finally get to board the plane first because I will need extra assistance. I’ve spent nights in pubs listening to strangers tell me their life stories. And I’ve learned that I can trust people. Not all people obviously, but there are genuinely good people out in the world who give hope to humanity.

Of course travel changed me. Doesn’t it change everyone? Doesn’t seeing the world affect, in some way, the way you view your own life? I suppose I could write a list. But who would want to read that? Surely, you would want to know some dramatic change that happened inside me? But I can’t choose one. Because, honestly, I can’t pinpoint exactly how travel changed me. I just know it has.

The other day, a friend said to me “You seem different.” Oh, really? I asked. How’s that? “I don’t know,” she responded. “You just…are.”


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  • David Urmann says:

    Travel is a life changing experience its always interesting to view things from another perspective and after a time it can even change your own. I think its important to visit countries that exhibit a wide range of development to get the best perspective.

  • Carly says:

    What was your first beer? I experienced what you wrote and it made me think.
    A lot of people refer to the little kingdoms we build for ourselves and their eventual undoing from… something. My undoing started very slowly toward the end of college (a very mini travel). I wish it had started sooner but I trust God’s timing! In all reality I don’t think I could have handled it sooner. Things really unraveled (the beautiful and ugly kind of unraveling) when I moved to California and eventually North Carolina (bigger-but-not-transatlantic moves). I made a lot of the “what to keep and what to throw away” decisions regarding how I was raised and how I lived up to that point. I started learning how my mind works and how well we can lie to ourselves. I confirmed that God is alive and well. I learned that I don’t trust easily even though I always thought that I did! I am still learning to live with abandon, not be afraid to be honest with myself, and be intentional about only putting energy toward what matters and not feel guilty about leaving the rest alone.

  • Erin says:

    Love this, just like I do all your writing! This seemed extra special because I was there (for most) of what you mentioned and it flooded me with great memories. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store 🙂