Jennifer Kimball / Contributor

Travel is my passion – one might say addiction. It’s what I live for – forty countries and counting.

I went on a tour of Europe when I was in high school and visited 10 countries. I think that’s when it hit me. I was hooked. A few years later, I was living in a small town in Idaho and decided the desk job just wasn’t for me. My mom worked as a gate agent and had me on her flight benefits meaning I could fly free. But once you turn 21 you get kicked off – total bummer. I didn’t know what to do without the freedom to just up and go. So I made a plan, a five-year plan. I told my family I was going to be a flight attendant and travel the world for the next five years. And that’s exactly what I did.

For the next five years I lived in four states and took a vacation at least once a month. Some trips were two or three days, others were 10 or more depending on how much time I could get off work. You might be thinking, why is traveling important and why should you do it? Well at 21 let’s be honest, you usually don’t have a mature bone in your body – I didn’t. I was looking for a fun time with friends and enjoying everything I could. Travel changed that. It makes you grow up and stay a child all at the same time. It taught me to be responsible with your money, time and self. Some people plan before they go and I did for the most part. But it’s the times I didn’t plan I had more fun.

"Experiencing how others live and celebrate is so beautiful."

Traveling as a flight attendant is a bit different than a regular traveler. It’s always an adventure. We travel on standby, meaning if someone doesn’t show up for their flight and I was next in line, it was mine and the trip was on. You might be thinking, "oh that’s easy people miss their flight all the time right?" Wrong. Let me put it into perspective. According to Air Transport Action Group, more than 9.9 million people work in the airline industry. About half or more work for a major airline and they get flight benefits. As you could imagine this could make planning a trip somewhat difficult. Every time I left for a vacation I packed for two seasons and always for the beach. Number one rule when flying standby, have a backup plan. For example one time my plan was to catch a plane to Iceland, Argentina or Mexico. Three completely different destinations.

I can’t express how much I love being engulfed in different cultures. There is something so amazing about seeing life through another’s eyes. Experiencing how others live and celebrate is so beautiful. For me, experiencing different cultures is what made me fall in love with travel. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I was shocked, appalled and didn’t enjoy it –but that’s all part of it. Travel has played a huge part in who I am today. It has changed my perspective of life. Travel has made me realize what really matters, how to be a minimalist and to respect others.

I can’t imagine the person I would be today without all my crazy adventures. I am beyond grateful and hope you all have a chance to get out of your comfort zone and see as much of this beautiful world as you can.

You can follow Jennifer's adventures on Instagram.

June 19, 2017