As I sat in the gate area waiting to board my second flight of the day, I noticed this slight itch in my toes. My first thought was to change my socks. I’d slept in them the night before, knowing as I went to bed at 1a.m. that when I woke up to leave for the airport three hours later, I was going to just stay in the clothes I’d slept in. But I was also starting to smile, for no apparent reason. Maybe they were related?

I sat there for a few minutes, confused but rolling with it. And then it hit me: All the travel I’ve done this year has been to places I’ve already been, or places so similar to home that they just feel like an extension of home. Food trucks and taco joints feel the same in London and Paris as in Austin and Chicago, Hawaii and Portland and San Diego. The scenery varied from Hawaii to Glacier National Park. But for the most part, I kept flying thousands of miles only to land in what felt like home.

“It’s easy to forget how much excitement comes with the unknown, from visiting the slightly-less-connected corners of the world.”

Don’t get me wrong, I loved these places and all the Monet and Renoir masterworks filling their museums. But as I sat in that blue pleather chair in Atlanta’s Hatfield International Airport, I recognized the root of this itch. The flight I was about to board would take me to a country I’d never visited, where (as far as I know) FourSquare isn’t better-informed than the locals. I’d be forced to remember my Spanish skills. I’d meet all sorts of people, their lives would be wildly different from my own. It’s easy to forget how much excitement comes with the unknown, from visiting the slightly-less-connected corners of the world. For me, discovery is the best part of travel. It’s when I finally feel like I’ve left home.

On top of that, this trip was 15 years in the making. I was supposed to visit Colombia in 2001, during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, with my Spanish teacher. She’d occasionally tell us stories about attending a strict all-girl’s Catholic boarding school outside of Bogotá and adventures in her dad’s private plane. It was all mysterious and intriguing.

“For me, discovery is the best part of travel. It’s when I finally feel like I’ve left home.”

When she mentioned she was going back that summer for the first time in 16 years, I jokingly said I wanted to go. Somehow she actually agreed, and we started planning. But right as my mom was looking into flights, the trip fell through. Apparently her father’s farm had been taken over by drug lords. At least that’s the version I remember now, possibly embellished by my 15-year-old brain and the 15 years that have since passed. I’ve been meaning to get there ever since. I even passed through the airport on the way to Ecuador, but I didn’t extend that layover because I was en route to meet up with friends.  Colombia just kept falling into the “next year” list.

When fellow Passion Passport team member Kyle mentioned that he was going to be there for a few weeks in December, I again invited myself. And now here I was a month later, about to board the flight. When I booked, none of this – the need to explore a new place or the 15-year delay – had even occurred to me. I just wanted to kick it with Kyle in Colombia.

Kyle and I are working from Colombia for the rest of the month, until I fly home to New York and he flies off to Panama to celebrate Christmas with our families. We’ll be exploring Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin, doing I don’t even know what – and that’s the best part.

Featured Traveler: Calvin Young
Featured Traveler: Calvin Young

We’ll be lounging in hammocks at an Airbnb in Cartagena as we share this week’s stories, featuring a traveler who inspired me from the moment I first read about him. Calvin Young is deaf, but he’s never let that stand in the way of his desire to travel the world. He’s been paragliding in Pamukkale, hung out with fellow backpackers in India and sailed in Greece, just to name a few of his adventures. Everywhere he goes, he shares my zest for discovery. We kick off our deep dive into Calvin’s story tomorrow, with four posts to come throughout the week.

Whether you’re reading from an igloo in Colorado, a coffee shop in one of the world’s many wonderful cities, or somewhere entirely different, I hope you are as inspired by Calvin’s story as we are here at Passion Passport.