As someone who has been privileged to be able to travel around the United States for the past 3 years, the experience is incredible to travel outside your hometown. To get out of your niche and truly wonder how the lives and way of being is in other parts of the world cannot simply be described in words. There’s this feeling of anxiety and excitement when either boarding a plane or driving to a destination unknown. While, yes, you may have looked up on Yelp for the best bars, restaurants, events going on , there is nothing like finally arriving and immersing yourself in something that can be so distant in character and location from what you’re used to. You learn many things from traveling and these are lessons you cannot get from anywhere else and that a book cannot fully demonstrate.
My first lesson came in budgeting. Living where you do, you become fully knowledgeable on the cost of things and you know how to plan accordingly in that case. While I do live in Miami, I’m usually risking high prices when it comes to nightlife and of course, highly rated restaurant experiences. Going to another major city such as San Francisco, which in accordance to data on Numbeo, means you’ll be spending more on pretty much everything. I had a budget set out but during my days there, my wallet felt a little lighter that I had imagined it should’ve been. Rightfully so, I was nearing the end of my budget earlier in the trip. It was a little embarrassing because in my mind, I had it all thought out, boy was I wrong. It was a lesson nonetheless, and from thereon out I was prepared for the future trips I would be taking to San Francisco.
Different Places, Different People
Something people will usually notice are the differences in people from one’s own city and another. Having family in Costa Rica, I would always travel as a child there and spend time with all my relatives that I had there. At the time I was a kid, I didn’t really pay attention to the way other people were, other than that they were considered Ticos. It wasn’t until I was 19 where I had taken another trip there and truly experienced the culture that was to be had. As a country that preaches “Pura Vida” (roughly translating to “full life” or “full of life”), the overall experience itself is lively. The people, in my opinion, are very happy with their way of living. Everybody there seems courteous and crossing the street isn’t such a hassle and cars stop for you, unlike Miami where crossing the street at times can be considered an ability you have to master. It’s a refreshing exposure to other people to say the least.
While I do have family in Costa Rica, all of my family originates from Nicaragua. There’s good reason for the shifts in location from there to Costa Rica and the United States. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the region next to Haiti. My first visit to the homeland came also during my 19th birthday, the first day we had stayed in a hotel nearby the airport only because the remaining family we had there had not yet responded on where exactly we could stay. The day after we drove down in a rental to a little outside of the capital of Managua, to where one of my aunts was living. On the way there two things happened that I’ll always remember.
First, we had been stopped by a female officer for an “illegal maneuver”, which was absolutely false. Ask many who have gone there and you’ll be told that if you have a rental car, you’ll be noticed more by the citizens and cops from there. That’s exactly what happened to us as my uncle had been driving. She stepped outside his window and had slipped him a white piece of paper that was folded that had writing telling him to slip leave money in there and he’ll be able to keep his license. Frustratingly, we surrendered and gave the money and were on our way from there. It was frustrating but it was better than having to deal with more “authorities.”
Second, after the whole officer incident happened, we passed by a park that had tents made up of garbage bags set up. This is where people lived, this was the reality of some people. I was seeing something that in some alternate reality, I could’ve been living had my family not made the decision to move away. It was a humbling experience and it made me grateful that while I do not live the most lavish life, I can wake up every morning and not have a plastic bag for a ceiling. I could in a sense understand why the officer would coax us into giving money, because everyone was trying to avoid being the poorest there.
To conclude, as I get to my room after every trip and unpack everything from my luggage, I unravel from the experience of where I’ve just come from. I’ve learny that finances aren’t the same everywhere and that you must be smart and plan accordingly to the cost of living of where you’re going, not where you’re from. That you’ll enjoy meeting different people whose culture enables them to live happily despite the consequences. Yet, in turn, you’ll be humbled by certain places where when you get home you can truly say “I’m thankful I’m not living in that place.” While a lot of this you can see through reading books or looking at YouTube videos, it will not beat truly stepping foot miles away from your home to a world unknown. Traveling is a priceless experience that I’m thankful to be able to have.