Next up in my life-defining moments mini series with St. John is a moment that I already mentioned in my career-defining moments, but for different reasons. It’s also timely as I just got back from Hong Kong and am still experiencing a little jet lag.
In my career-defining moment, travel was all about strengthening the connections I have with people in different places. In this case it’s not about that. It’s about the experience. Experiencing other cultures, food, architecture, ways of living, fashion, music.
Growing up, I was lucky to have parents that valued travel. They took me and my siblings as many places as they could afford to. By the time I graduated high school I had been all over the US, to Ireland and England, to Colombia in South America, and lived in Mexico for six months.
I’m sure to some people that doesn’t sound like much, and to some it sounds like a lot. Some kids grow up traveling the world, and some kids who grow up in a military family live all over the world. For me, I felt very lucky to have been to several different countries by the time I was 18.
One of the few things I regret is not studying abroad in college. I really wanted to go to Spain (since I studied Spanish in high school) and then travel around Europe. Since I had graduated high school early and moved to Mexico, I didn’t feel as pressing of a need to go abroad in college. I was also scared it’d be too expensive and I didn’t want to ask my parents to pay even more for me. Looking back, I probably should have figured out how to make it happen.
So I regret that, and also not doing more to try to get paid internships in New York or LA during summers in college. So if any of you readers are in college, take note! If you have the desire, find a way to make what you want happen!!!
I got married a year after I graduated college and moved to Florida for a job. That year my husband and I lived in Florida it felt like a vacation in itself since we lived a mile from the beach and I went every day that I wasn’t working. We hardly made any money so traveling wasn’t really something on our radar at the time.
The next few years we moved, changed jobs, and started to actually make money. We bought a house, and went on a few trips together and separately with friends. We plan to do more and more traveling within the US and internationally, but traveling is expensive. Especially when you get older and your standards are higher. Hostels, shared bathrooms, and economy seats for anything longer than 6 hours is painful. So as much as I wish I could just constantly jet set anywhere my heart desires, I can’t. I have to plan and budget, just like everyone else when I go on personal trips.
However, because I am so passionate about travel, it’s turned into something I get to do for my job. I’ve had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Rwanda, Zurich, Hawaii, and around the US for work. It’s definitely a pinch me dream job, and I feel very lucky for it to be my reality.
There are still so many places I’ve never been, and I just hope I’ll have the opportunity to experience them, for fun or for work (my work is fun, so it’s really all fun). When people ask me where I want to go next I always say everywhere.
So why do I feel like travel is life-defining? For me, each place I’ve been — even if it’s just a city in the US — I learn something new, see something interesting, or experience something different. Each place affects me, adds to my empathy for other cultures, and deepens my understanding of humans.
In high school when I went to Colombia and Mexico I saw things I hadn’t seen in the US (even though I know they exist in some form here). Being in developing countries and seeing a lot of poor people constantly (kids begging for money and food at every stop light) it changed the way I thought about things at a young age. I never took my life for granted after that. That in itself — realizing how lucky I was, how awesome my parents were/are, how I was raised always feeling safe, never wondering where my next meal was coming from — I got that life-changing perspective from my experiences while traveling.
Traveling also makes me think deeper about people. Why we do things, how we treat people, how different parenting is from one country to another. How some cultures take siestas every day, don’t eat dinner until 10pm, and take two months of vacation every year. It’s fascinating. Makes you turn everything you know to be normal completely upside down and reevaluate how you want to live your life.
After years of travel, and having honed in on my style and editing my wardrobe, I’ve gotten much better at packing. Step number one for easy packing — you have to love your clothes. If you don’t, packing will become a miserable chore and while you may be happy to check it off your list, it definitely won’t be an enjoyable experience.
When I didn’t have clothes I loved, I found packing to be very hard and take forever. I would try on tons of options, and then be disappointed when they didn’t look any better than the last time I put them on. Then I’d feel like I didn’t have any clothes. A closet full of nothing to wear as they say.
If you need help cleaning out your closet and figuring out what to buy you can read my book The Life Edit, but mostly it boils down to one main thing — purchasing quality clothing that makes you feel happy and confident. If you do that, then you’ll always love your clothes and packing for all of those vacations you are looking forward to will be a happy experience.
SHOP THIS POST
St. John Eyelet Boucle Knit Sweater (wearing)
I am obsessed with this knit sweater!
Read more posts about packing here:
Photography by Laura Metzler.
This post was done in partnership with St. John. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this website possible.