December 2020 is here and the adventurer in me mourns a little. I promised myself that I would visit at least one new country every year. I've been to 65 countries not including the ones that I transited or did not leave the airport. I am committed to visiting 100 countries before I die. Whether or not it happens, I will not live knowing that I didn't at least try.
I grew up in the tiny island of Fiji. Traveling overseas was only a dream, it was one of those things that seemed to be for the rich kids only and I wasn't one of them. Somehow, deep inside me from a very young age I knew I wanted to see more of the world. I remember watching planes fly over me wishing I could be in one of them.
In high school, I finally got my chance. I was chosen to represent Fiji for a UN youth conference in Bangkok. That was the first time I ever got a passport made. I remember leaving Bangkok knowing very strongly that I would go back there one day.
Fast forward a few years and it became one of my most favourite layovers. I had seen a recruitment ad for a prestigious 5-star airline in the Middle East. My cousin used to be a flight attendant with them and was still living in Dubai. I applied online and asked her for some tips and questions. The interview process was so daunting and those of us who made it into the final rounds kept in touch. Everyone else got their golden call but there I was, still in Fiji waiting. I checked my emails every chance I got and my phone was always by my side.
I finally got my call and found myself living in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Everything was so fascinating, even the toilets. The United Arab Emirates especially Dubai surely knows how to put on a show and I don't think there is any place quite like it.
I found myself travelling to countries and cities I never knew existed. My lack of geographical knowledge didn't help. I was a girl from a tiny island now shopping in New York, drinking espressos and eating the most delicious pizzas in Rome. I was taking random and impromptu holidays to places like Maldives and Egypt because I could. I would fly to Amsterdam, Hamburg and other European destinations to meet my fiancé now husband. It helped the long distance. We have now travelled to 12 countries and made special memories together.
Everything I experienced made me understand that no matter your background or situation you really can achieve anything. My mindset expanded so much in those years. I became a Cabin Supervisor managing people from all over the world and of different age groups. It was so uncomfortable for me in the beginning because I had internal beliefs that a girl from Fiji had no place delegating duties and tasks to these people. I have become so much more confident and I find myself becoming more and more of an extrovert.
Traveling gave me a deep appreciation for cultures, food, people, different perspectives and stories. I miss really weird things about flying like talking to all the crew on quiet night flights and working with so many different ethnicities. We talked a lot of shit but we also shared amazing stories.
I once heard the saying 'Traveling gives you an education that no book can teach you' and I can't agree enough. It is so important to travel, to see the world. To realise you're only a small part of the story but not an unimportant one. It helps you take yourself less seriously and learn to just enjoy life. I feel so rich not because of material things but because of my life experiences.
One of the best things traveling did for me was strengthen my faith and it put me on the path to find my passion and purpose. I relentlessly pursue what sets my heart on fire because I understand how fleeting life can be. I want to leave behind a legacy of dreaming big for my children and their children.
The airline sent me a flying summary indicating every country I went to, dates and frequencies. It was interesting to find that if you put all my flying hours together it accumulated to almost a whole year of being in an aeroplane and that's not including the travels outside of work. I guess it's a good thing 2020 helped me keep my butt still because maybe I need a plane break.
If you're reading this, I hope it inspires to travel a little more and let the world inspire you.