I can’t think of one instance in my life where someone has handed me a free plane ticket and I said, “No thanks”. On the contrary, it is an immediate reflex, an uncontrollable response, a resounding “YES PLEASE”. There’s a belief out there that one has to be rich to travel. While I feel grateful for where I stand in life, not all my travel has come with a cost.
After college, I made plans to nanny abroad in Menorca, Spain. I had no idea how I was going to get there and if I would save any money on the few euros a week I would make. As a graduation gift, my dad used his airline miles and gave me that ticket from Denver to Spain.
I was visiting my best friend in Omaha, NE. Our time had come to an end, and I was sitting at the gate awaiting my flight home. An announcer came over the speaker. The flight was overbooked and anyone willing to change their flight to the next day would receive $300 in flight credit. Within minutes I was headed back to her house for an extra night stay.
I had worked on cruise ships for a couple years. I was over the job and ready for my next adventure. When my new plans fell through unexpectedly, it was hard not to turn back to ships. I reluctantly sent an e-mail, and heard back more quickly than I expected. Three weeks in the Caribbean? Leave in two days? Done.
I set my sights on the best summer job I could imagine: travel abroad with students learning Spanish. After several interviews, I was offered a position and awaited my trip placement. I feared my summer would be packed, especially if I was placed on the longest trip through Ecuador and the Galapagos. Weeks later my inbox included two round-trip flights from Miami to Quito.
My school takes each class on week-long trips during fall and spring. The trips are a combination of learning and adventure with stubborn but lovable middle schoolers. They were in a bind and needed an adult to step in to lead the trip through Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. I began mentally organizing sub plans as soon as they mentioned my name.