How I Became The Travel Guru

by Roni

 

howIbecametheguru

I haven’t always been fearless when it comes to travel. A friend of mine told me that readers would like to know my story and I realized that I had never told you. Well, here is what happened.

 

I was 24 years old ( so just a few years ago) and I stopped by one of my friend’s houses for a visit. She wasn’t home but her dad, Mr. Simmons, was there.  He invited me in while I waited for his daughter to arrive and we started talking. Her dad was the general manager of a major hotel chain and he was telling me stories about how kids from other countries came and worked at his hotel and many of them didn’t speak English.

We talked for about an hour about his experience in the hotel business and something about what he said about the students coming to America really hit home with me.  I remember clearly the moment I decided to move to Spain and learn Spanish. I was in his living room while listening to him speak. I can’t tell you the exact words he said that motivated me but there was just something about his stories that got me to thinking, “If these kids can do it, why can’t I?” So I got back in my car and called my mom. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

“Hi mom. I’ve made a decision. I’m moving to Spain.”

“Okay.”

“Mom, I’m serious. I’m going to move and I’m moving in May.” (It was October).

“Okay. What made you decide that?”

I then told her about the conversation with Mr. Simmons and she thought it was great and totally encouraged me to move. So I called my dad afterwards and he thought I was crazy, he didn’t understand why I would want to live in a foreign country, especially when I didn’t speak the language but he was still encouraging and told me to do whatever I wanted.

My parents have always given me the freedom to make my own decisions, even when they may not agree with them but they have always stood by me. That was a big help in my decision because before I called them both, I knew they wouldn’t dissuade me from moving.

 

So I had several months to get myself together. I decided I was going to go as a nanny so that’s where my research started. Oh, I should tell you that I waited until May because I had a few things going on in my life that I needed to take care of and I couldn’t leave until May.

 

Now, I’m dating myself here but when I made the decision to move, I couldn’t go on the internet and do a search. The Internet wasn’t in all households or on our phones so I had to go to the library and find books on agencies that handled nanny placement in Spain. I sent off several international letters and waited for my responses.

 

 

Okay, fast forward to May and I have my job all lined up.  I was going to be a nanny with a family in Barcelona even though I wanted to move to Madrid. I was disappointed and I had to look on a map and find Barcelona because I had no idea where it was. When I got over my disappointment I decided to go ahead with the move and I was soon headed to Barcelona.

 

Now, in the meantime, my extended family had gotten wind that I was moving to a foreign country. To say they weren’t supportive is an understatement. They couldn’t understand why I would want to do that, and many tried to talk me out of it.

I didn’t care and didn’t listen.

People will always try and stop you from living your dreams because they didn’t have the courage to try theirs.

 

Now, up until about a week before I was totally excited about this. But then I started getting nervous. I mean, really nervous.  I was making stupid mistakes in all aspects of my life. I was really jumpy and didn’t know why, I totally missed a friends party because I got my days mixed up and couldn’t think straight. I was a wreck. I was moving to another country where I didn’t know anyone and I was falling apart.

 

 

And then the day came when I was being driven to the airport by my mom. The night before I had a going away party and my friends and family showed up and as I was looking around I was thinking, “Why am I leaving all of this?” But there I was, sitting in my mom’s car getting closer and closer to the airport and I was so scared. I mean REALLY scared. I had no idea what to expect from Spain and I was barely keeping it together.

 

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Fast forward to the gate. This was back in the day when your friends and family could walk you to your gate and say goodbye. My cousin and her family were there to see me off and we were all having a good time, I was sitting on my mom’s lap (yes, at 25 I was actually sitting on my mom’s lap. Don’t judge me) until they made the announcement for my flight to start boarding.

Then the waterworks started.

 

I hugged everyone goodbye and my mom was the last one I hugged and I started crying like I was never going to see her again. I was doing the ugly cry. You know, the one where your whole body is shaking and your face is all contorted but you’re trying to not look so ridiculous but you can’t stop yourself which makes your ugly cry even uglier? That was me.

 

I don’t know how long I stood at the gate holding my mom but I reluctantly let go and walked down the jet bridge (still crying, no less) and took my seat.

 

I wish I could tell you I stopped crying soon after but that would be a lie. I cried for a couple of hours because even though I knew I wanted to live in Spain and learn Spanish, I was going into a country I knew nothing about. Moving to live with people I had never met, and leaving an environment where I had a home, a car, a job, friends, and everything I could have wanted.

So why was I leaving? Because I wasn’t satisfied. I knew there was something bigger than the life I had created in Los Angeles and I wanted to do more. I wasn’t ready to get married like many of my friends were and I knew there was something else I needed to be doing. So I finally got myself together and made my way to Spain.

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I’m telling you this story so you can see that I didn’t start out as The Travel Guru. I was once a scared young lady on my way to an adventure. So I know what it’s like to be scared. I know what it’s like to question traveling somewhere. I understand the trepidation. But I just kept in mind what my parents told me, “You can always come home.”

So if I moved and hated it, didn’t make any friends, couldn’t get acclimated to the culture and hated the food, I had a return ticket.  I knew I could come home and that always made me feel good knowing I had a place to go if things didn’t work out.  I was scared but I knew if I could live past the fear, I would be ok.

You should also know that before this move, I had never taken a trip by myself. Ever. The most I had done was eaten at a restaurant for lunch alone and gone to the movies alone. I had been to Europe once with my family but that was when I was a teenager.

 

 I really didn’t want to utilize the ‘come home’ option, but it was nice to know I had it. Oh, and guess what? At my dad’s office they had weekly newsletter and in the newsletter they talked about my trip to Spain and they actually had bets as to how long I would stay. The longest was 9 months and I KNEW I was going to stay longer than that, even if I hated it, just to prove them wrong (I’m a stinker, aren’t I?). I’m going to see if I can find the article that was written in the newsletter to show you.

 

Once I moved to Spain and was able to navigate that on my own, my confidence with traveling  just kept growing. That, in turn, rolled over into other areas of my life. When you accomplish something, it gives you the strength to try other things.

You may not want to move to another country, but even taking the first step of going to another part of your city to do something is a change. Or going somewhere different than where you normally go. Or ordering  food at a restaurant that you have never ordered before. Those are all small things you can do to start building your confidence to travel.

I hope by telling you this you have gotten a bit more insight into who I am and why I think the way I do. And I want you to know that I truly appreciate you reading my blog.

Thank you.

 

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Leave a Comment

13 comments

Khalia September 9, 2013 - 12:07 am

I didn’t know people in the family were trying to dissuade you. Jackasses. It’s a wonderful thing you didn’t because now your life has been enriched infinitely from your journeys.

This is a very inspiring story.

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Roni September 9, 2013 - 12:11 am

Thank you darling.

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Felicia S. September 13, 2013 - 7:00 pm

What a story! Thank you so much for sharing that. I know you have inspired countless people to make that trip abroad or even make that trip across town. Seeing and doing new things can be terrifying for some. It’s not the fear, it’s what you do with the fear that matters. Keep on flying higher! You’re awesome, lady.

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Marlene August 24, 2015 - 2:36 pm

I’m glad you didn’t listen to the naysayers . Your life is yours to live FREELY and I’m glad you have found such freedom my dear TRAVEL GURU 🙂 XOXOX

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Roni August 24, 2015 - 8:22 pm

Me too! Thank you very much for reading!

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nylse August 24, 2015 - 8:09 pm

love this! we never know where a little seed will grow until we water it. I have learned alot through you and live vicariously through your travels.

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Roni August 24, 2015 - 8:21 pm

Thank you so much! I don’t think Mr. Simmons has any idea how our conversation changed my life!

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Wandi August 25, 2015 - 7:13 am

Thank you for the inspiring story!

This is a great lesson about MOVING THROUGH THE FEAR!
It’s okay to be afraid….just don’t allow it to stop you!

You don’t need to see the whole staircase to take that first step!

Wonderful, Roni! You’re my Shero!!

Wandi

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Thriller Mom August 26, 2015 - 2:29 pm

Such an exciting and inspiring story! I have traveled quite a bit throughout my lifetime but not since having kids. We’ve traveled 3-11 hours at most (by car) to see family but I want my girls to have experience traveling abroad while I’M young enough to really enjoy it with them! Lol! I always enjoy living vicariously through your travels until we’re able to do more of our own.

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Felicia January 8, 2016 - 11:07 pm

Hey Faida!
I didn’t know that you had surgery. I will pray for your full recovery. You’ll be stronger than ever, I’m sure of it.

Bisous

Felicia

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Roni January 9, 2016 - 6:48 am

Hey! Thank you! I’m getting better everyday!

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Felicia January 10, 2016 - 2:54 am

Glad to hear it! Have you ever been to Copenhagen? I may be heading there for Spring Break.

Bisous!

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Roni January 14, 2016 - 2:53 am

Yes I have! I loved it, people were super nice.

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