How Travel Changed My Life

How Travel Changed My Life

Holly Henkel

Surf and Service, Costa Rica 2017 | Island Hopping and Diving, Thailand 2018

Holly is a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in English creative writing.

All photos have been provided by Holly. Read her story below!

I had the opportunity to travel with Rustic Pathways to Costa Rica in 2017 and to Thailand in 2018. During these trips I was able to fully immerse myself in cultures different from my own.

I went on both of these trips knowing no one which was a terrifying experience since I am a relatively shy person, but I met some of my best friends on these trips. Going alone allowed me to overcome my fear of meeting new people, a skill I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I remember that I got a text from my mom on the second day of my Costa Rica trip saying “are you glad you went?” and I replied “definitely.”

During my nine day Costa Rica trip, we spent many hours picking up trash along the beach. It was eye opening to see the effect of humans on the environment right before me.

Now, I make conscious decisions to decrease my plastic use and waste. This is something I never would have considered so seriously had it not been for that trip. I was able to discover a new passion for decreasing ocean pollution.

I spent eighteen days in Thailand, hopping from island to island. I had always wanted to scuba dive, but never would have if I didn’t go to Thailand with Rustic Pathways.

One of my favorite memories was when I was twelve meters under the water with my new friends and seeing all the ocean life I had never even knew existed. I couldn’t stop smiling through the regulator in my mouth.

I took this trip the summer before I started college and because of this experience I went into college with one goal for my future myself—to see the world. The last day of both of these trips was full of tears. It was so difficult to leave my new family, but we were so grateful for the times we had together.

Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my memories while traveling with Rustic Pathways. I am not sure where I would be without these experiences.

I am able to share my appreciation for the beauty of the world with others. Rustic Pathways has had a huge impact on my life. After these trips, I was able to see that there is more to life and get the motivation to see what is out there.

I often tell people that I was able to find myself through traveling. I am beyond thankful to have had these travel experiences and they instilled in me a desire for travel and exploration that I did not know I had before.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Thailand and Costa Rica, or view more Alumni Stories here