Why Megan Didn’t Wait to See the World

Hi Why Wait World! Welcome to the rebrand and reincarnation of Twenty-SomethingTravel.com! As Steph has so lovingly put it, we are in this together from now on, so I wanted to introduce my story to you and why I didn’t wait to see the world!  -Megan

Now, I wasn’t born into a traveling family. In fact, I didn’t step foot out of the country until I was 25. Travel was always this thing I knew would be in my life, I just never really knew where to start, or how to make it happen.

Luckily, a kind soul of a friend (thanks Elise!) invited me to venture to Martha’s Vineyard with her after our college graduation, to live and work for the summer. Being the “never-say-no” type that I am, I happily packed up my belongings in my tiny 2 door Pontiac Sunfire, yes in true high school girl fashion it was silver, and took off for a summer of waitressing, beach laying and most importantly friend-making on the vineyard.

I really have to say that MV (Martha’s Vineyard) sparked my wanderlust. Every day, I met people who were traveling around the world chasing the summer or working for 6 months and taking off for parts unknown for the other half of the year. I met people who had the same view on working a 9-5 that I did and it really opened my eyes to the possibility of what my life could look like.

I spent a couple summers on the vineyard and tested out a few 9-5 more ‘traditional’ careers during the winters, never really being truly happy.

The idea of getting up at the same time every day, driving the same route to work every day and sitting at a desk or talking to the same people every day made me sick to my stomach. I wasn’t sure what I truly wanted in life but I knew I wanted more than the “American Dream”.

I wound up running a restaurant in my home town in Upstate NY for a few years and was happy. Every day was different, if one day I wanted to go out to breakfast and go into work at 2pm I could, if another day I wanted to spend the day paying the bills or being creative, I could. I loved that. I had a good group of college friends around and we would get pretty wasted on the weekends.

Ultimately, though, I knew that that life wasn’t what I envisioned for myself long term. I needed more.

Luckily, I wound up having a large falling out with most of my friends from college, that’s a story for another day, and without that safety net of support and people, it finally pushed me to make a big move.

Probably the biggest move I’ll ever make in my life and the day my parents will always remember as the day they lost me to the world. 

I put down a deposit on a TEFL program in Cambodia and bought a one way ticket to Phnom Penh. The high I got from planning that first adventure is something I’ve basically been chasing ever since.

I sold all my furniture, my car, said goodbye to my friends and family and figured out how to pack my belongings into a backpack. It was buzzing setting off to the unknown and I really hoped that this was it for me, the beginning of the rest of my life. 

My big adventure didn’t quite go down the path I had imagined, but it has led me to a life I’ve always wanted.

I’m fairly certain that after day 1 in Phnom Penh, a day filled with shuffling in and out of tuk-tuks, meeting Khmer people, eating enough Tom Yum and fried rice to feed a horse, and solemnly wandering around the Killing Fields Museum, I knew I was never going back to the life that my parents begged me to consider.

I wanted to see every nook and cranny of the world. I wanted to eat everything, see everything, experience everything. I fell in love with the anonymity of a new place.

I have made travel and seeing the world a priority in my life, and I have no idea how long it’s going to be this way, but I’m ok with that. I barely ever buy new clothes, I don’t have a big bag full of expensive makeup, I don’t go on luxurious vacations. I buy plane tickets, I meet people, I try new things.

It’s such a cliche but you never know if you have a tomorrow so why put off traveling and seeing the world until you retire? Why slave away and waste your best years at a desk with no windows instead of sipping a delicious curry from a street stall while sitting on a tiny plastic stool making sign language to a toothless elderly woman who you can tell by her smile knows more about life than you ever will.

I grew up extremely sheltered, knowing nothing of the world and its people. I ate mac and cheese and hot dogs and didn’t venture further than Disney World into the culture of the world. I could barely point out countries on a map, or pronounce far off lands. Much of my extended family are simple minded, racist, and uneducated, and I decided at a very young age that that wasn’t going to be my fate. Well, my parents did that for me I guess – thanks – by always enforcing that I could do anything I set my mind to. (I’m sure they are regretting those life lessons now…. 😉 )

After experiencing 25+ countries, countless sunsets, thousands of friendships, I can happily say my world view has expanded, and I feel comfortable knowing that I have a better understanding of how the world works and a higher level of acceptance for those that are different from me.

I’m not done, nor ever will truly be, so that’s Why I Don’t Wait ultimately, because this world needs more understanding, compassion and acceptance and traveling and experiencing it first hand is the only way I know how to accomplish this.

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9 thoughts on “Why Megan Didn’t Wait to See the World”

  1. Your story is very helpful. I can relate a lot. I’m about to graduate college and my girlfriend and I both just had a terrible falling out with all of our friends from college due to some pretty awful stuff on their part. The friends we have left have kids now so they aren’t exactly around much as much as I love them! So it feels good to read about how a similar situation pushed you as well. I’ve travelled a bit in college on study abroad trips but this summer as a graduation present and trial for a life of travel, I’m taking off with my girlfriend for her first trip outside of the U.S. to Portugal. If we enjoy it (and I assume we will) we’ll know what to do next! Thank you guys for creating this website. It’s fantastic! I’ve been reading for a few years. The rebranding looks great. Much love.

  2. I love your story. Even though your big adventure to teach in Asia didn’t go as planned, you still came home a traveler for life. It just goes to show that all the travel mishaps in the world can’t keep someone who has travel in her soul from getting out seeing new things again and again and again.

  3. Elizabeth Tittle

    I read an article recently about people like you. It was very derogatory. I think the author doesn’t understand that the world he lives in is rapidly changing. People are hungry for experiences and connections with other cultures. A new generation of entrepreneurial travelers can and will change this world. So you’re right. Don’t wait. There’s enough people out there who will run the rat race. You shouldn’t be one of them.

    1. Yes, that’s definitely a challenge right now. Our generation is thinking out of the box and finding creative ways to live more fulfilling, open and adventurous lives, and older generations are seeing it as lazy or slacking off when in reality most of us work harder and more creatively than ever before! You, my friend, are the inspiration and I can’t wait for our paths to cross again in a few weeks!

  4. Megan! You’re in good company! I quit my job and had my first solo backpacking adventure a few years ago and it changed my life forever. Now, I can’t sit still and all I want to do is see more, explore more, do more. I’m obsessed and travel has opened my eyes to a completely different side of me that I didn’t know existed. Maybe we’ll catch up with each other on the road some day. 🙂

    1. Thanks Casey! It really is a drug! So addicting! But also so fulfilling! I totally agree that I’ve learned so much about myself that I never would have found without travel!

  5. Your story is such an inspiring one, Megan. Although I have been traveling for a long time, I’m currently in a job that is pretty routine, and it’s not making me (and my adventurous soul) very happy. It’s good to know you were able to find a way out into the world, pursuing a career you love, and at a pretty young age too!

    1. Awww thanks Kay! I’m very excited for your adventure! Can’t wait to be a part of the journey! It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s significantly easier to deal with the hard times when you’re working towards something that speaks to your soul. You’ve got this girl!

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