Take a leap of faith and travel the world...
As a college student, I often would daydream in the middle of class or while I was supposed to be studying. I was somewhere else. I was in the Amazon jungle, on an African safari, or diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I was anywhere else other than the classroom. In my free time, I would plan trips around the world itemizing what I would need and where I would go, always preparing for my adventure.
Life happens and money doesn’t grow on trees, so I patiently waited. Realistically, it seemed like my big plans were still years from happening. Then the five-week break at BYU-Hawaii approached and friends were telling me about their upcoming trips to China, Africa, and other exotic places. Even my wife was going on a teaching internship to Fiji. I wished I were in their shoes. But I wasn’t. Instead I was preparing for more of the monotonous 40-hour workweeks that awaited me. Then I snapped. I couldn’t take it anymore. I took a good look at my bank account, talked to my bosses, and then most importantly, committed myself to going somewhere.
My co-worker, mission buddy, and good friend James Astle was preparing for a three-week backpacking trip in the Philippines and invited me to join him. After being on my best behavior at home and giving my wife a sad puppy-eyed petition, she gave me the nod, and I bought my ticket and packed my one backpack.
A week later I was on my way. If you are going to fly somewhere far, I highly recommend you find a way to see other countries along the way. I was lucky enough to get 15-hour layover in China on the way to the Philippines and in Korea on the way home.
In China, I climbed to the top of the Great Wall and roamed the Forbidden City. In the Philippines, James and I spent three weeks backpacking and island hopping. We saw the Manila and Cebu LDS temples, road along in the famous Jeepneys and tricycles, and ate a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive, a Filipino delicacy known as Balut. We built a tree house on an uninhibited island in El Nido, witnessed firsthand the destruction left by Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban, and explored 17th Century Spanish forts and cathedrals. In Korea, I learned of the country’s rich history at the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the National Folk Museum of Korea. Everywhere I went BYU-Hawaii alumni and family of current students helped me.
Three weeks came and went too fast and only intensified my travel bug. I fell in love with the cultures I was introduced to along the way. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was when it comes to traveling, you just have to buy that plane ticket and commit. Money will come and go, “stuff” will always come up, and other factors will attempt to deter you, but now, while you are young, is the best time to see the world. There are things to experience and learn about the world that textbooks just can’t teach you. So lose the excuses and make it happen.