The older I get, the more I value travel and experiencing new places over material things. The feeling of going somewhere new, or even somewhere I haven’t been in a while, never gets old to me. Whether for play or for work, I’m always grateful to get away.

This week I’m lucky that my workplace is a nice hotel overlooking the San Diego harbor while I attend a digital marketing conference.

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Prior to leaving I called my mom to give her the details of my trip.

“Where are you going again?” she asked, even though I had told her several times before.

“San Diego, Mom.” I replied.

“Didn’t you just go there last year?”

“No, that was San Jose and San Francisco.”

Reminding my mom of something I’ve told her several times before was a normal occurrence. But what did strike me during our exchange was just how many times I’ve traveled on somebody else’s dime. Whether for school or for work, half of my travel experiences have resulted from being involved.

The first time I ever flew was in elementary school on a trip to Des Moines, Iowa (yes Iowa). My first trip to Disney World and Universal Studios was also a school trip. The first times I traveled to Boston, L.A., NYC, D.C. Hartford…all for school. I’ve traveled from coast to coast, and to some cities I probably would’ve never decided to go on my own, many times compliments of my schooling or my career.

Thinking about my experiences, one piece of advice I’d give (and have given to any student) is to get involved. Oftentimes black children lack the exposure afforded to many of our counterparts. Being from Mississippi, I know some who never leave the state or venture outside of neighboring states. Of course several things contribute to these “borders” which is why seizing every opportunity available is even more important.

While many of us will never be gifted with a backpacking trip through Europe,  don’t sleep on where band, athletics, student government, debate team, and a host of other organizations can take you. Similarly, once you get in the working world, don’t stop seeking opportunities to further your training through conferences and certifications located in places all over the globe. If your employer doesn’t suggest it, you suggest it. Even more, don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s stance on continued training during the interview.

There’s a big world out there. Every time you get outside of your comfort zone and travel, you grow a little more. Don’t miss the opportunity to create moments you’ll never forget by not getting involved. Trust me, when you can experience new places on someone else’s dime, it’s make it even better!

 

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