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I’m a writer and entrepreneur on a mission to see every country in the world.
But, traveling wasn’t always a part of my life.
Growing up in a lower-middle-class American household, my family didn’t have the money to travel by plane. I didn’t know how vast the world is, and how much I could discover by believing in what could be.
That is, until I first saw a photo of Barcelona.
It was on a study abroad website, and I checked that webpage every day throughout my senior year of high school. I knew, no matter what I did in life, I had to make it there someday.
My First International Trips
Fast forward to 2015, and I’m buying a plane ticket to Costa Rica. I had no passport, no experience flying, and no clue what I was doing.
I didn’t even know how to go through airport security, or that checked bags can only weigh 50 pounds each!
I only knew that I had to push myself and get out of my comfort zone, because if I didn’t, I never would.
That trip changed my life forever. I got to intern at two nonprofits, live with a host mom, and travel solo.
I went from being an unbearably shy girl who always played it safe, to a spontaneous traveler with insatiable wanderlust.
Two years later, I was in Barcelona on a semester abroad, fulfilling my dream from seventeen years old. Those four months in Europe further cemented the truth of who I was.
Two weeks of traveling at a time would never be enough. Corporate vacation time would never be enough.
There was nothing that could appeal to me more than life out of my hardshell carry-on, on the road, away from all familiarity and comfort.
Joining the Peace Corps
My dream throughout college was to prime my experiences and résumé in order to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. The selection process is highly competitive, and I put so much pressure upon myself to be extended an offer.
To my relief, Peace Corps hired me to volunteer in Ukraine. I was on Cloud 9, in disbelief that I could be so fortunate. Little did I know, this life change could prove to be unfortunate, as well.
It was when I lived in Ukraine for the first few months of my 27-month contract that I was sexually assaulted by locals in public, and my entire outlook on life changed.
My understanding of what sexual assault is, and how it changes survivors, completely changed.
My perception of foreign aid changed.
My desires for my career and life changed.
I felt so lost, with nowhere to turn.
My dream was dashed, and I had to pick up the pieces of my life.
And with those pieces, I had to build something new.
Throughout this time, I wrote. I wrote fiction, poetry, and I created Sarah L. Travels. Somehow, the writing was the only thing that brought healing.
Writing was, and is, one of the only ways I feel like the woman I am now is not fully broken.
That there’s some part of me that can be salvaged. Made new. And move forward.
As it turns out, traveling does the same.
So, why do I travel?
I travel because I need to remember what I love about living. About the world. About chance encounters with strangers, that become life’s best memories.
I need to remember that my life is worth something. And that I deserved better than what’s happened to me over the years.
I travel and I write, because I need healing.
And there’s just something about flying, experiencing new cultures, always being on the go, and my fingers dancing across the keyboard in the middle of the night–that makes me feel whole again.
Until that euphoria goes away, you’ll find me in an aisle seat, writing or researching stocks, with a cup of coffee on my tray table.
On this blog, you’ll find travel guides from where I’ve been, tips on how to see more of the world on less money, and actionable steps to get you on your dream trip.
There’s so much magic that can happen when you drop everything and just go.
Regardless of your walk of life, who you are, or where you’re from, I deeply believe travel can change us–if we’re brave enough to let it.
Let’s be brave together.
Follow along on my journey!
Read about the Journey to 197
Subscribe to From the Aisle Seat, my twice monthly Substack
Follow me on Instagram and watch Stories (that’s where I post about each country while I’m traveling)