The first time that I ever traveled was for my second grade class trip to Sacramento, CA.

I remember getting to the airport and feeling so tiny standing near baggage claim — but also extremely curious about everything around me. Around that time is also when I first started to notice the excitement my Dad felt whenever he had to travel for work. I saw how much joy it brought him, and how excited he would get whenever it was time for him to head out.

My Dad traveled pretty often for work: he’s an original member of a band that had major success in the ’70’s. Because of their songs, his band is still being requested by event planners all over the country. I never really knew until I sat down to write this piece that much of my own identity as a traveler (and a creative), stems from my Dad and the joy I witnessed him feeling whenever he was preparing to create, or travel to somewhere new.

For me, these two things — creativity and travel — go hand in hand.

I’ve often felt my most open when I’ve been traveling, and that always seems to jumpstart my creativity. That’s not always the reason why I’m traveling in the first place, but I appreciate the inspiration.

My dad traveled for the first time when he was 18: he’d joined a band that was headed for Austria (or was it Switzerland? ) either way, he was headed to a place where he didn’t speak the language or really know anyone, but he was excited about it. And I still feel that every time that he re-tells these stories. It’s the memories for me; when I think about his trips and the ones that I’ve taken on my own, or with friends and lovers.

And with quarantine cutting off the opportunity to travel anywhere the time being, I’ve been thinking more and more about what travel — and the places I visit — really mean to me. So without further ado, here’s a list of places that I’m considering for my first travel trip post-pandemic.

  1. Japan has been on my list since I was 16 — ironically, around the same time that my dad traveled to Tokyo for a funk music tour. All I knew was that Sailor Moon was Japanese and, that it was one of my favorite anime as a kid.  Now, after discovering my preferred sushi roll, falling in love with Matcha and Japanese fashion, I have a few more reasons why I want to visit and stay for a good amount of time. Between the art, food, and culture, Japan has a solid chance of winning my first post-pandemic trip contest.
  1. Brazil was added to my list after the first time that I heard “The Girl from Ipanema”. It was so melodic and calming— it perfectly captured  the beauty of Brazil that I’d seen in pictures. And then after learning a bit more about the history of Brazil and watching documentaries about the importance of dance to their cultural identity, I knew I had to see it in person for myself.
  1. Jamaica, for obvious reasons, is also in the lead. Between the music and the food, I can’t even believe that I haven’t been yet. I grew up listening to Bob Marley every day with my dad and my brother. His song “Three Little Birds” was our alarm song and we’d wake up to it and then sing it throughout the day. I’ve heard that the hospitality is unmatched as well, so I’m having a bit of a hard time deciding whether this should be the first pick or not.
  1. Colombia came onto my radar after a couple close friends went on vacation and told me about the food, art, music and how heavily influenced it is by their Black population. And while I know that there are Black Colombians, I never knew the level of Black pride that was incorporated into their culture. There’s also what I’ve heard about their street food (it’s amazing) that’s driving me into that direction too.
  1. Mexico feels like home away from home for me. Growing up in Los Angeles, I learned a Mexican dialect of Spanish, had Mexican neighbors, family members, and basically soaked up as much of California’s Mexican culture as I could. Now that I’m on the East Coast, I miss it so much and visiting would definitely put me in contact with that part of myself that admires Mexican culture so deeply.

But now that we’ve been “in the house” going on a year, travel seems so far away. Travel memories, travel opportunities…all of the travel things are starting to feel the way “we’ll be getting our stimmies soon” sounds. Thinking back on the last time that I traveled, it was one of the hardest and best trips of my life. This past August I moved from Los Angeles to New York.

I’d been dreaming of this move since I was about four years old, which was also related to an elementary school experience. One of my favorite teachers told me that’s where she went to school, and because of how brilliant and beautiful she was, I knew I had to do the same. Now that I’m here, I’ve definitely enjoyed myself and still have more exploring to do.

Transitioning out of sheltering-in-place will be just as difficult as going in. There will be a lot to get used to and a lot of caution that will still be required. All in due time, at my and my pocketbook’s leisure.

I hope, sooner rather than later, we can come to an understanding as a nation on what it takes to protect ourselves and others. Because I miss outside and I think a nice flight will help me to figure out where I see myself living longer term — that is, until I get the next travel itch.

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