The year draws to a close.

Honestly, I didn’t do nearly as many blog posts as I thought I would, but that’s the way life goes. If there is anything in particular anyone would like to hear about, let me know. Otherwise, this will be the last post in this blog.

For the last post, I’d like to talk about the difference between a traveler and a tourist. (For clarification, a traveller meaning one who travels and not a member of the traveling community)

It’s important to note that, when it comes to being a tourist or a traveler, neither is superior to the other, they’re just different. In fact, I think it can even be considered a skill to know which you are while on your journey. After all, nothing is more annoying than a tourist who thinks they’re a traveler.

But let me elaborate with an anecdote about castles.

Before we came to Ireland, all I wanted to see was a castle so I could stand atop it and survey my kingdom. The first castle we went to was Blackrock, but it had been converted into a science museum so it hardly counts. Thus, the first real castle I saw was Blarney Castle.

Blarney is a really easy and fun place to be a tourist. Not only can you kiss the famous stone in order to receive the gift of gab, but you can also tour the massive grounds with almost all of the flora and fauna Ireland has to offer. It really is a mini-Ireland.

When I went to Blarney, I was so excited to finally see a castle. I took an absurd amount of photos and touched everything I could. I was a tourist and I was having fun.

Here’s one of the photos of Blarney from the inside:

I know, it’s awesome.

However, looking back on it, I realize that seeing a castle wasn’t what this journey was all about, and even though I loved Blarney, my favorite photos are these: 

And frankly, you could crop out the castle and I’d still love the the photos.

When you’re touring, it matters where you go and that people know you were there. The post cards you bring home and the souvenirs you give to your friends matter. And that’s an important part of the journey. But I think when you’re traveling, truly traveling, it doesn’t matter so much where you are or where you’re going, it doesn’t matter if it’s the same or the opposite from home, or how long the plane ride was. Traveling introduces you to people. Traveling reminds you of the people you miss and why you miss them. Traveling makes you feel small in the best way possible. It’s a big world after all, and yet we can still all be so connected. 

So, as I pack my bags and clean the apartment until I almost forget we lived here, I really don’t think back on the castle so much. Because it was never the castle that matter the most. And in the future I hope to tour Europe and South America and, frankly, the world, but I will always take time to travel. Like traveling to a coffee shop just to get to know the waiter, or traveling to a new school just to get to know the students, or traveling back home to get to know my family better. 

There will always be pictures of castles and buildings and oceans, but they will never matter as much as the experiences which can’t be put into words. Maybe there’s a reason there aren’t words for everything. Maybe it’s meant to encourage us all to travel, if only down the road.

So I saw goodbye to this journey in Ireland. We’ll be back, of course, but it will never be the same. We’re coming home, but we’re coming home changed.

We’re coming home travelers.

See you soon, America. 

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