I was born and raised on a small island by the name of ST. Croix. Thankfully my parents loved to travel and would take me and my older siblings on frequent trips to the surrounding islands or the States. It was so freeing being away from my island and experiencing different cultures. We would visit places like Puerto Rico, rx Barbados, for sale Dominica, Georgia, and more! It was amazing seeing these places with people that I’d spend everyday of my life with. 2 years later my family would be broken apart when my mother, sisters, and I moved to America while my father and brother stayed behind.
The transition to “American life” for a 8 year old was rough. The kids didn’t understand my accent, said I talked “Jamaican”, and asked if we wore clothes on my island. My grades started slipping, was getting into girl drama, and rejected from TWO of my dream colleges. I was unhappy for a very long time and the only thing that cleared my mind was traveling. My parents would still plan vacations but one parent and/or sibling would be missing. They eventually divorced. My brother was busy doing his own thing and one of my two sisters wouldn’t be able to make it for one reason or the other, resulting in us having to cancel.
I took my first solo trip to New York City at 17 years old. I went to Central Park, Times Square, the 9/11 Memorial, FIT Fashion Museum, and I rode the subway by myself. Someone said to me, “why would you travel alone? I would be scared. Don’t you feel lonely?”, That’s when I realized that I didn’t have to wait for anyone to travel with me anymore. I went two days without updating my twitter, which is a long time for someone who had sent out over 50K tweets at the time, I met a bunch of foreigners, which was weird because I had my antisocial tendencies. I was on a high. I didn’t have to worry about living in a toxic household, my slipping grades, and the 5 year friendship with my BFF that I had just ended. Then the high was over when I returned home and had to face reality and decide what I was going to do with my life after high school (since I was rejected from every college). And since I lived in a rural city, there was no community college within 30 miles or public transportation.
I finally landed my first job in retail and would set aside $50 every pay period to fund my trips. Fast forward to months later and I was traveling solo to other U.S. cities. I had freedom and didn’t have to worry about being judged. I would go hiking, sightseeing and other touristy things. These things allowed me to reflect and appreciate my family. For many years I resented them for being so dysfunctional. At times I would feel lonely but with my family calling to check up on me to make sure that I was safe, made me realize that they cared. I gained so much confidence and became more outgoing. I would just look at these cities and feel overwhelmed with motivation and feel like I should keep going. It made me feel like I should continue to be ambitious and follow my dreams, and that something amazing is in my future. I saw all of the potential. Traveling taught me to be fearless and grateful.
Take a few days away from work, social media, toxic friends and family, or school and take some time to reflect and recharge. Go out and make friends with other travelers and listen to their stories. You are not the only who feels ignored and unhappy. Do things that scare you like zip lining or skydiving. No you don’t have to be “rich” to travel. Saving $20 every pay period and cutting down on fast-food goes a long way. I’m not saying that Traveling is the cure to depression, but it sure does help.
Written By Crystal Alejandro