I didn't travel much as a kid—we were very much a Lagoon and/or camping family—but that's changed in the past five years or so. I've come a long way since the days I would tell my dad "anywhere east of Utah" whenever he asked us where we wanted to go on our next vacation. A lot of my bucket list places have been checked off.
In the U.S., that is. Fortunately, the U.S. is big enough to keep sightseers busy for a while, but eventually you're going to want to expand your travel area. Plenty of things were stopping me from stepping outside U.S. borders, but the main thing was that I didn't have a passport. Money, language/cultural barriers, and lack of travel know-how don't matter if you don't have the golden ticket required to leave your home country.
With no real need to travel outside the country, I put getting a passport on the back burner. (That's me in a nutshell—avoid wasting effort on something until it becomes a relevant issue in your life.) But it made me sad sometimes knowing that I couldn't just hop on a plane and fly somewhere on a whim. (What if someone offered me an all-expense-paid trip to Europe one summer? If it happens in Gilmore Girls, it can happen in real life, right?) I would hear people talk about their exotic travels and wonder if I would ever get to do any of those things. Would I ever eat authentic Italian food, go on a cruise to the Bahamas, or see any of the sites from the books I've read? Until I hunkered down and took the steps necessary to secure a passport, I would always be somewhat limited in my dreams.
But then it finally happened—a family vacation was planned that would require a brief amount of time in Canada. Who cares if Canada is the least "foreign" country for a United States citizen to visit? I had the nudge I needed; the effort required to get a passport was now relevant to my plans for 2018.
The process turned out to be much less of a hassle than I expected it to be, and, a few weeks ahead of schedule, my passport arrived in the mail.
As I held that little book in my hand, it was like the world opened itself up to me. I was no longer "stuck" inside one of the biggest countries in the world—I had what I needed to go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted, whether it was a meticulously planned trip or something spur of the moment.