I’ll admit that when I was growing up, travel was something I took for granted. My summers and Christmases were almost always spent away from home — and instead of being grateful, I felt the opposite. To me, it seemed as though my parents were always whisking me off to faraway places whenever home was finally an exciting place to be. I would miss out on birthday parties, hangouts with my friends, and countless excursions to Enchanted Kingdom! (Yes, I’m talking about a time when life was that simple.)
It was only during my late teens that I could finally look fondly back on the vacations that marked nearly every year of my life. To see even just a slice of what the world has to offer is a blessing — and though it was a little late, I finally realised that. Thanks to my parents, I’d achieved several travel milestones without even noticing. And later, when I was finally old enough, it became a goal of mine to accomplish more.
With this, I’ve put together a list of travel milestones that every globetrotter will experience in his or her lifetime, from the little things to the big things. Here are just a few of them!
1. Your first-ever trip
Whether it’s a road trip, a cruise, a ferry ride, or a plane ride away, there’s nothing as sweet as your first time away from home. This is when you discover that there’s so much more to the world than the sights and sounds you witness on a daily basis — perhaps it’s even when you start to crave for more! Oftentimes, it’s when one first accomplishes this travel milestone that a love for travel is born.
2. Your first field trip
Oh, field trips — don’t you just miss meeting up with your classmates at the school parking lot during the wee hours of the morning? Fighting for the best seats on the bus? Actually being required to visit some of the country’s popular tourist spots? Field trips were a fun excuse to bond with our friends, but now that I’m older, I’m thankful that they gave us opportunities to witness some of the Philippines’ beauty.
3. Your first time on a plane
The smell of aeroplanes, the interesting medley of flavours offered in in-flight meals, the super-cute toiletry kits (my favourite thing about long-haul flights as a kid)… The excitement that comes when the plane finally takes off, the awe you feel when you realise you’re actually up in the clouds, and the thrill of touching down at a new destination. Ahh, there really is nothing like this travel milestone!
4. Your first time on foreign soil
Your first time in a new and different country is always one for the books. You find yourself hit by a wave of amazement — how is it that this place has just been sitting on the other side of the world all along? And how wonderful is it that technology has allowed us to see it? Just imagine what it was like before the Internet and social media — we’d only get sneak previews of other countries in history books and travel guides!
At the same time, though, let’s not rule out culture shock. Travelling somewhere new isn’t always a positive experience. Your first time on new soil might actually allow you to see the place you call home with new eyes. Or, maybe it’ll just inspire you to try again — maybe your next trip will take you someplace better!
5. Your first time to experience a new season
Because we only experience summer and the rainy season here in the Philippines, visiting a place where they have spring, fall, and winter seasons is always exciting! We just love being decked out in our weather-appropriate OOTDs and imagining what it would be like to live somewhere the seasons change every few months.
6. Your first time to get lost… and find your way back
While getting lost in an unfamiliar place is often unsettling, finding your way back is always quite fulfilling. When you get lost in a place where people don’t speak the same language and you don’t have a map (or the Internet) to help you out, you can’t help but feel like you deserve a prize when you make it back to where you came from.
In my case, it happened in Japan, when I was four years old. In a grocery, of all places — but hey, I was tiny! I couldn’t find my parents, and I started to panic. But that’s when my survival skills turned on: I remembered my dad teaching me how the locals said ‘excuse me.’ ‘Sumimasen,’ I found myself saying as I navigated my way around the grocery aisles. I frantically searched for my parents, and later discovered my dad had found me — and overheard me trying to speak the local language! He was so proud of me, and I (and he) will never forget this travel milestone.
7. Your first time to fall in love with a new place
You know how they say nothing compares to your first love? This rings true, even when it comes to travel. There are some places that will always have your heart because of the memories that are tied with them — the wonder you feel as you explore a new city and instantly fall in love. When you’re charmed by a destination, its culture, its sights, its people, hold on to that feeling. There isn’t anything quite like it, especially when you feel it for the first time.
8. Your first check off your travel bucket list
If I could describe what it’s like to finally see a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting, I would have to say it’s a lot like being starstruck. The destination you’ve long been enamoured by almost felt abstract, or as though it only existed in photos or in books. But here it finally is — it’s real, and you’ve made it. A fair warning: This is one of those travel milestones that just might have you in tears!
9. Your first self-funded trip
Travel can feel like a great achievement, especially when it’s something you’ve worked so hard for. Saving up your hard-earned salary, skipping out on meals at expensive restaurants, and choosing to forgo shopping during monthly online sales — it’s all worth it when you’re finally able to book that trip and see it through. When the day of your adventure comes, you can’t help but feel goosebumps and feel a sense of accomplishment! You just made travel happen — and all by yourself, too.
10. Your first solo trip
Even for the most independent and extroverted travellers, travelling alone for the first time can be a little intimidating — it can even be nerve-wracking. But according to those who’ve ventured out on their own, to learn more about yourself while discovering a new place is truly worth it. Though you’ll inevitably come across a few challenges along the way, they make this one of the most rewarding travel milestones on this list!
So, which of these travel milestones have you accomplished? Which of them do you hope to check off this list? Wishing you meaningful and memorable travels ahead!