The best thing I’ve bought

There are so many things I have purchased which have made a really huge impact on my life.  This year, for example, I bought my first “new” car.  Well, it was a 2014 model but still. It had new car smell and drives like a dream. It was not my first car purchase.  But my first car bought quite close to the time it was manufactured.

If I were to classify something as the best purchase I ever made.  Then, it has to be my first air ticket to go travelling abroad. I know that travel is not everyone’s thing. But it’s my thing.  And it’s one of THE best things I have ever invested in.

It was not only my first time to go abroad.  It was my first time to step foot on an aeroplane. I was 25 and fully aware and appreciative of what it took to get me there.  I had finally decided to go and visit a friend in Holland.  So I was fortunate to have accommodation. Which meant I had to just save for my ticket and spending money. At the time I had worked a full time day job. And I took on a weekend job as well to make some extra cash to get me there. My high school bestie, also a first timer out of the country, decided to join me on the trip.

It was exciting times shopping for airline tickets. Then applying for the Schengen Visa.  Finding the best way to exchange money. All first time experiences that you really cannot put a price tag on.  Departure day finally arrived. We said our goodbyes to our families and got on the plane. Trying hard to look as if we did this all the time.  But I swear there were flashing neon signs on our foreheads.  Although I think it was more that our excitement could not be contained.

The very friendly flight attendant chatted to us. Asking us where we were off to. Of course it didn’t take long for us to blurt out our status as first time travelers.  He left us and we continued our own chattering.  A few minutes later he returns and says, “Follow me”. We complied of course. We all watched Passenger 57. We didn’t want any trouble with an air marshal. Not that there were any but how were we to know being first time travelers and all. Instead we were in for a treat. We got taken to the flight deck to meet the captain and view the flight deck. Of course this was way before this type of activity was banned on flights. There were still smoking sections on planes at that time!

It was an exciting start to a memorable trip. The captain allowed us to sit in the jump seats as the plane landed in Johannesburg for our stopover before heading to Schiphol airport.  It was something else. I wondered how many other people were fortunate to have this type of experience on their very first time on a plane. Magical. The bar for overseas travel had been set very high from that very first time.

For me, travel is not only about the destination you get to.  I love the whole experience. Boarding a plane. Chatting to the staff. I am THAT chatty passenger that you might HATE sitting next to. Although I have improved with age. I have learnt to read my fellow passengers. So, I can sit quietly and read a book or watch mindless TV. But I prefer chatting. I am of the opinion that we should at least be courteous to the person who might have to put our oxygen mask on our faces, heaven forbid.  So my chatting is purely risk management!

There are many articles written about the benefit of travelling. New experiences. Exploring different cultures. Making new friends. Learning about yourself outside of your comfort zones. Expanding your mind and your definition of “The World”.  It is indeed one of the best things you can buy in life. If it’s your thing. But I would challenge you to only decide that it’s not your thing, after you’ve traveled abroad.


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