Machu Picchu

I want to go to Machu Picchu in Peru. I want to put together a 4 week trip to Peru and Bolivia. Bolivia is cheap, has a lot of great things to go see and is traveller friendly, Machu Picchu is, well, a World Heritage site full of wonder, beauty and awesome-sauce. I want to cross another amazing World Wonder off my list. So far I’ve got: Empire State Building, Big Ben (London), Stonehenge, Taj Mahal, and Angkor Wat. My bucket list includes the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Jerusalem, Tokyo, The Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall, and Mount Kilimanjaro… to name a few.

An amazing thing I can’t wrap my mind around is how little international travel Americans do. I was on Facebook the other day and noticed a recent update from a girl I met while in Bangkok. She is British and had been traveling on her own around South East Asia. He recent update was a photo of her in Africa teaching children. A friend of her’s asked what she had been up to and she responded with a list of countries she had recently been to in Africa and how she was bopping around the planet exploring and teaching the whole way. Her friend then responded in turn with an anecdote about how her and her hubby decided to take a year off, fly into Brazil and then travel around all of the Americas, ending in Alaska before coming home and getting a new job. You know, just a year in the life, right?

Jesus.

I can probably name ten people I know who have travelled outside of the states for more than a month. I’ve met quite a few travelers here in the states who are visiting from other places, but the sheer amount of trekking so many of these Australian/British/European/Canadian people do is astounding.  Don’t get me wrong, Americans travel quite a lot. It’s in our heritage to travel. We are constantly skipping around the country, occasionally going down to Mexico or the Caribbean for a real treat, but mostly we stick to our hemisphere. And I am lucky to have had the opportunities as a girl to have gone on a TON of road trips around the states, seeing many places that my contemporaries have not seen; so I don’t feel the itch to explore places I have already been.

The wonder to me lies in the fear so many of my contemporaries have of somehow “missing” something if they take themselves out of the game for a month or two. Especially in New York, even leaving for a weekend can make one feel like they’ve fallen behind and that they need to catch up with whatever is going on. A Month!? 2!???! It’s like shooting yourself in the foot, right? How will you ever hope to be competitive and reliable and successful if all you do is piss off for a while leaving everyone wondering how awesome your vacation is and how you can afford to pay for it all what with student loans and bills nagging at your heels. My answer: you’ve only decided to take on a parallel path, not one that stumps growth, just challenges it in other ways.

Oh, and none of the traveling whiz-bangs I have met have student loans to worry about. Credit Card loans: yes. But no one has 30K in debt yet… With that reason alone I can see why so many people won’t travel. Who has money to cough up 600 bucks a month while on the road? That’s a flaw in our national education system and is really the cause of stumping growth.

Meanwhile, I’m finding myself wistfully planning a trip the minute I get back from one. I keep telling myself I’m an actress, yet all I can focus on is how the next adventure will make more stories for me to write. What does that say? (That’s too scary to think about just yet… not ready to confront those decisions.)

In a perfect world, I get a deal with a travel magazine and I write for them as I travel around with a guy who is also a junkie for adventure. I’m 25; life’s got endless roads ahead of me, and I’m looking at a really steep, misty 7,000+ foot high Incan City Trail that’s calling my name in the mountains of South America. Just gotta save up some money and make it happen.

November 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm by Natalie Allen