We live in an ever-connected time, where cultures, ideas, businesses, and more are weaved throughout the world. To those of us who can travel, travel itself brings a unique form of appreciation, understanding, and tolerance into our lives. It’s really a beautiful thing.

While I like to believe I’m self-motivated as a traveler, a lot of opportunities I’ve had couldn’t have been possible without those who’ve supported and believed in me along the way.

This holiday season, I want to express my gratitude to the people and organizations that have  helped me be a part of the world. Today, I am who I am because I could take those opportunities.

So, here goes:

To my Mom and Grandpa, who support me and (attempt to) understand why I can’t sit still, and who have helped me financially.

With my Mom, Grandpa, and Aunt at Graduation 2018

To my Dad, who always encouraged me to travel and brought me to live with him in the Philippines years ago. Those travels were how I got a grip on reality beyond the US.

Sippin’ on some fresh coconut with my Dad in 2014

To Klein Global Opportunities, for influencing my international career goals and helping me help other students study abroad. And of course, for the scholarships that helped me study abroad in 2017.

At the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) news desk with Asha

To Learning Enterprises, for giving me the opportunity to live in Panama and teach English for a summer. Since, I’ve been more committed to learning Spanish, have earned myTEFL certification, and am more inspired to have an international lifestyle.

A side note: Interested in participating in or supporting LE? Check them out — you can donate or even apply to volunteer on their global programs.

My co-teacher Audrey and I at our first day of school in Las Cruces, Summer 2018

To the Community College of Philadelphia, for taking me to Mexico for the first time. It was when I fell in love with Latin American culture and it made me want to continue learning Spanish.

To all my Spanish professors ever, because without y’all I couldn’t understand Spanish the way I do. With it, I spent my summer in Panama and am setting new travel and career goals with a second language in mind. Although I don’t speak it much now, I continue to practice at home and can’t wait to return to Latin America.

Because what’s travel without friends?

To best friend Jacque White,  who lived in Europe and influenced me to come visit Europe for the first time. In those tiny two weeks, some of my favorite life memories were made.

An irreplaceable experience: Paris with your best friend

& to everyone else who makes me feel that what I’m doing in life is worth it and support my goals to explore the world, thank you.

With that said, I’ll not just grateful for travel because it’s fun and even glamorized sometimes.

I’m grateful for more than just the experiences I’ll remember for my lifetime.

I’m grateful for the people I’ve met who I still talk to today.

I’m grateful for the ways my mind has been challenged and changed.

I’m grateful for the kindness and hospitality people have shown me.

I’m grateful to have career goals that see no boundary.

& last, I’m grateful for the position in life I was born into.

I was born into a life that made traveling possible. My seemingly natural hunger to explore the world couldn’t have been fed without the people in my life who made it so.

My privileged life lets me peek into the world of people who have almost nothing, and one of the biggest lessons we learn with the privilege to travel is that we should be grateful for what we have.

As we all pursue our travel goals and have amazing global experiences, remember that you have an incredible opportunity to maximize your life around the world.

In addition, despite the fact many travelers are self-motivated by their personality, we all had people along the way to support us and help make our travel goals a reality.

No matter what kind of travel support we receive, it becomes part of the structure we base our travels around.The amazing art of travel wouldn’t be what it is without those who influence and support us along the way.

As we travel lovers continue to trek the world, don’t forget the people who told you “you can do it!”

For more travel inspiration from Kayla, check out her blog here.

Instagram: @kaylamarieisfire

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