I grew up in Oklahoma, a fairly non-progressive area of the country (although a good portion of the people there would surprise you). The timing of my first exposure to travel was full of bliss and even a little luck. Being the quiet, cautious human that I was, I look back and feel so thankful that I didn’t end up going down the cautious path in life.
My first summer away from home was spent bussing tables at the Evergreen Lodge in California outside of Yosemite when I was 15. I was staying with my older sister who’d been bar-tending there and decided I was old enough to invite on one of her adventures for longer than a weekend visit.
Let me reiterate, I was very quiet and shy. More of an observant type than a conversational type. This was a difficult experience for me on a lot of levels. And I feel very fortunate every day that someone cared enough about me to walk me through such a life changing experience.
I began to realize that life really is what you make it. When I talked about my plans to go to college after high school, I didn’t receive automatic applause for desiring the standard higher education. My co-workers (who were all significantly older than me) also encouraged travel, adventure and alternative experiences to really find my passions in life to ensure I would never become a victim to the 9 to 5.
And. I listened. To everyone. Such unique stories of what brought them to that particular summer job. A whole new world of opportunities had been exposed to me. Because of that summer, I was open to things I’d never even thought possible before. I decided at that point that I would still go to college, but at the very least I would take a semester abroad.
4 years later, I found myself in Viña Del Mar, Chile for 6 full months. I hadn’t been to another country, other than Mexico, before, and I barely spoke any Spanish. Neither of these things mattered to me one bit and my desire to wander the world expanded even more as I made lots of mistakes as well as great leaps in the direction of becoming the person I desired to be.
Another 4 years later and I’ve managed to spend a year living on Hawaii, a winter in Thailand, and two summers working a food truck that traveled the US festival circuit. I’ve lived in my van, out of a tent and in strange shacks. My friend circle reaches all over the world and I feel confident in myself in a way that the shy 15 year old me would have never thought possible.
Today, I am developing my travel blog to share my travel stories and to encourage conscious travel. My next travel project will be a trip to Central America where I highlight places that travelers can go do work trades and really give back to the communities that we visit— immersive travel enriches the lives of all involved.
Travel for freedom and to feed the wanderlust of your heart but also to immerse yourself in the true nature of our fellow humans. – Kellie Mogg
June 18, 2017