Whoo I’m 24! After quite a few years in a row of pretty lackluster birthdays, I took matters into my own hands and booked a trip to Bali for a week. I’m in a much different place than my 14-year-old self would imagine, and I’m pretty darn happy about it. While, no, I’m not married and pregnant with my first child or getting coffee wearing crazy heels in NYC, I also just don’t want those things right now. To commemorate this birthday, I thought I’d look back and reflect on some of the 24 trips I’ve taken before turning 24!
24. The Trip Where Your Life Changes
You know the one where your mom comes and gets your from China while dealing with crap bureaucracy and surviving off of Cocoa Puffs for six week… First time on an airplane, and I don’t remember any of it! My mom though… I have a feeling this is why she’s not crazy about travel or Cocoa Puffs.
23. The Trip Where You Ate too Much Lobster and a Raccoon Stole Your Bacon
My family took a ton of camping trips around the U.S. Northeast growing up, and our weeklong trip to Maine was easily the most eventful. Hiking every morning, getting lost often, overdoing the lobster, freezing in the ocean, and having a raccoon steal my bacon the night before… Not to mention I think my cousin almost threw up on me in the night when we had to share the tent because he ate either too much lobster or too much melted butter. Don’t tell my family, but I’m trying to work the idea of family trips back into our summers :p
22. The Trip Where You’re Too Old and Too Young to Enjoy Disney World
I know! Disney, you magical place… I was just too old to enjoy it. At 10-years-old, the nostalgia factor hadn’t hit me yet, and I was more bummed out by the lack of exciting rides in one of the biggest amusement parks out there! FYI, if you’re a Roller Coaster junkie, you’re much better off at Six Flags or Hershey Park. However, I definitely want to return to Disney since I’m old enough now for nostalgia
21. The Trip Where Your Mom Takes You to NYC for the First Time
So my mom and I are big Grease fans. We watched the show where they were searching for Danny and Sandy to headline the Broadway revival. When our favorite Danny won, we both knew we had to go to NYC to see him perform! My mom surprised me with tickets on my birthday, and we went on a random school day in October. We ate at Serendipity 3 (still so good, by the way), window shopped around, and ended the day by seeing Grease.
20. The High School Trip You Take Instead of the Typical Senior Trip
I knew I was going to Italy before I even got to high school. I worked two lifeguarding jobs and saved all freshman, sophomore, and junior year for 10 days in Italy and Greece during that spring. While now, I know I can spend 10 days in Europe for much less than $4,000, it was the perfect introduction. I skipped out on my junior and senior trips so I could go, and it was 100% worth it. I still dream of eating lemon gelato in Capri or climbing the bell tower in Florence.
19. The Trip to… COLLEGE
College was the promise land. I had been ready to go since middle school, and I think I worried my parents with how prepared I was. The application process kind of broke my heart—college really is a privilege in the US, which it shouldn’t be. I can’t believe how expensive it is! By the time we packed up the van, and got to my dorm room, I was ready. Definitely a life changing time that taught me a lot, helped me become stronger, and maybe made me a little more empathetic. I also got to straight up study English and read novels, so my life was made.
18.The Trip You Take to a Country Where You DON’T Stand Out
When you’re one of the very few Asians in your hometown and college town, you kind of get used to being “other.” For example, let’s say I crashed my car into someone and then drove off. They can easily identify me as an Asian driver, and it would narrow down the search by a twofold. My summer in Seoul, though, I was surrounded by people who generally looked like me, and it was amazing. Even the study abroad friends I made were mostly Asian. I can’t tell you what it’s like to spend your whole life clearly looking like “other” to then witness what it’s like to blend in.
17. The Trip Abroad for a Semester
Another thing I knew I was going to do the moment I found out about it was studying abroad. Originally I wanted to do a year, but I wound up doing a semester, and I got to spend it in Madrid. Such a whirlwind experience! It’s a really weird place in life because you’re in a new country for at least four months. Long enough to not be a tourist anymore, but not quite long enough to make a place feel totally like home. You’re also enjoying new experiences and “studying,” but you’re also taking a break from your regular life. Anyhow, I spent every penny seeing as many countries as I could, and it was exactly what I needed at that point in my college career.
16. The Weekend Spent Gaudi Hopping in Barcelona
I only wish I had known more about Gaudi when I spent a weekend with new study abroad friends in Barcelona. I didn’t know anything about him actually! His architecture is truly beautiful to see in person, and I can’t wait to return to see the Sagrada Familia totally complete.
15. The Trip Where You Go to England, But You’re Definitely too Poor for It
Visiting England on a shoestring budget is the worst! You’re in a gorgeous country, but you can barely afford to pay to use the public toilets. Definitely returning with more money and more time. Also returning at a time when I can fly into Heathrow and not necessarily on a budget airline… Waiting overnight while it drizzles in mid-October for the airport bus to Stansted is not fun.
14. The Trip That Surprised You
Lisbon is amazing. Like you need to make Portugal a priority on your wander list! I was sick from England and discovered my allergy to bees all in a three-day weekend, and I still loved it. That’s how beautiful this place is.
13. The Trip Where You Finally Get to See Some of the Culture You Were Raised With
My mom’s side of the family is Irish, and I had friends studying in Ireland. Obviously a trip to this country was necessary before I left Europe! Definitely make time to see Cork. It was so lovely. My favorite trip we did though was to Inishmore in Galway Bay. Talk about a stunning place. Even with the rain and the soles of my cheap shoes giving out (seriously had to duct tape them and then get back from Cork to Madrid with duct taped shoes)
12. The Winter Weekend Trip to Paris
Guys, Paris lived up to the hype. It was beautiful even with gray skies, Champs-Élysées lit up was amazing, and I loved seeing the Eiffel Tower everywhere. Paris, I will definitely be back. Not to mention the rest of France…!
11. The Expat Move to Korea
Easily the best decision I could have made my senior year. Getting this teaching job in Korea helped heal a lot of the problems I had in college and shape my future hopes.
10. That Trip to Thailand
I didn’t know visiting Thailand as a postgrad was a thing, but apparently it is? Either way I went to Thailand with new friends from Korea, and it was quite the experience! A bit more hectic than I’d normally travel, but absolutely gorgeous. It was fun getting to know my friends more, and being with people for the bumpier parts made them funny memories rather than stressful.
9. The Trip to See Angkor Wat at Sunrise
Despite the crowds, Angkor Wat was amazing. That sunrise was breathtaking, and the rest of the morning spent walking around temples, while exhausting, was beautiful. Not recommended: going to bed at midnight the night before and eating a certain kind of pizza…
8. The Spontaneous Long Weekend Trip to Japan
Lynsey and I spent a random long weekend in May in Kyoto, and the city is just as beautiful as you’d hope it would be!
7. The Trip Where You Fall in Love
San Francisco. I love you so much, but why are you so expensive?
6. The Trip Where You Finally Visit Hollywood
Walking along the walk of fame and seeing that sign finally… Pretty cool and mildly cheesy experience! I visited Elissa in her hometown last summer, and got to experience SoCal and Los Angeles, something I’d been wanting to do for quite some time.
5. The Trip Where You Learn to Love Your Home
I actually like Philadelphia, weirdly enough! I was always ambivalent about it because it’s always been there, but being away and getting to visit again with my family made me fall in love a little bit! So excited to eat a Wawa hoagie and a cheesesteak come November.
4. The Semi-Solo Trip to Vietnam
While I planned a trip to Vietnam with Michelle, I wound up having the first and last three days totally alone. It was my first time traveling totally solo, and at first I was pretty terrified! Of course, once I got there, I realized how little I actually had to fear. Solo travel can definitely get a bit boring though!
3. The Trip Where You See a World Wonder that Lives Up to Its Hype
Halong Bay is every bit as beautiful as you might think. It’s the biggest pain in the ass to get there, but once you get to see the views, you forget about that long bus ride!
2. The Trips Where You Slow Travel around Your Home Country
Living in Korea, particularly the countryside, has opened up a whole new side for me to fall in love with. I have spent most weekends traveling and seeing new towns I had never even known existed a few years ago, and it’s been amazing. My ideal travel situation is setting up a home base in a country for an extended period of time and wandering around everywhere I can. I did it a little in Spain. However I’ve really been able to take advantage of slow travel in Korea, and it’s been the best.
1.The Trip Where You Spend Your Birthday in Bali
And you get up at 7 a.m. to do a 40 km mountain bike ride around rice fields. It’s both beautiful and painful because, of course, your fitness levels aren’t nearly as high as they should be… Still, the Chillhouse’s biking—must do! I hope this is a metaphor for me getting into better shape this next year!
Disclaimer: I participated Chillhouse’s biking as a guest, however all opinions and memories are my own!
Words and Photography by Samantha