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Sean Brown, Palm Beach, FL

I believe I was 10’ish taking my first ever international trip during summer vacation between elementary and middle school. I went on a two week tour of Europe with my mom and a group of people (one of those Contiki tours) – I don’t remember much of the trip except having shitty continental breakfasts every day and seeing a bunch of stuff I wasn’t interested in.

Things I’ll never forget

Ferry to France – taking a ferry across the English Channel was one of the most torturous, down right sickening things. Hell hath no furry like the straights of Dover. The ocean had massive swells and nothing was able to stand upright without holding on for dear life. All I remember was the foul stench of puke EVERYWHERE.

Nightclubs in Florence – (remember, I was 10) The entire group headed out just after dark to a local nightclub in Florence – all I could remember was the pounding euro dance music and an empty club (because it had just opened). I ended up (somehow) getting into the DJ booth a hanging with the DJs for some time. Who knew this would lead to something a little farther down the road.

Gondolas in Venice – My most vivid memory of Venice was the smell of low tide and riding in a gondola on the grand canal – I’m pretty sure my mom still has that picture on the fridge of all of us in the gondola.

Experiences I missed out on

I didn’t care about where I was – not because I was a little shit (well mostly) – mainly because of my age. I was old enough to comprehend but not old enough to immerse myself in the experience. By all means, I’m appreciative of the experience but traveling with kids who won’t appreciate culture and history is a waste of money and doesn’t enrich their lives.

As an adult

I crave exploring history, culture and adventure like a junkie looking for their next fix. I’m passionate about the places I’ve visited (when I was too young to care) and exploring new bad-ass destinations.

This mentality didn’t just start at age 18 – it took me some time to mature and figure out that life was more than a 60-mile radius around where I lived.  I’ve learned that everyone gets to this point in their life at their own pace – there is no date/age when it magically happens.

Traveling is worth the trip at any age – value from it comes with maturity.