Dear International Travel,

Two years ago, the world shut down and I wrote a letter to you. I didn’t know when I’d see you again—I thought maybe two months, max. But somehow, I knew it could be longer. Much longer.

I mean, I could leave if I wanted to. New Zealand was nice like that. Even though the borders were shut down and we had to shell out $2.5k to come back, we could always leave. 

But when I was trying to pay off student loans, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to buy overpriced flights and flirt with a flawed system that could let me back in… or not.

So, I waited. 

And waited. 

Cried a little bit. 

What am I talking about, I cried a lot. 

But during those two years, I learned to have gratitude for all the countries I’d been to. I learned to appreciate the city and country in front of me. And I learned to put down roots, let them run deeper than they ever had before.

I learned a lot. 

But… I always missed you. 

Cramming my carry-on full of essentials. Flashing two passports. Getting to the gate, the sigh of relief—and finally, sweeping down the runway, on the up and up.

So, I waited. 

And waited. 

Cried a little bit. 

And I cried a lot.

And it’s funny how years of waiting can suddenly end.

And on that first red-eye from Auckland to LAX, I didn’t even put in earplugs. Because even when I woke up to a baby crying, or the steady roar of a jet engine—it was the sound of prayers answered. 

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s true. With every day I lived land-locked, I loved you more. But also—absence made my heart more tender, more grateful. 

Because you are a lifelong gift I never want to take for granted. 

Thank you. 

Until We Meet Again,
International Traveler

P.S. The next flight I have is technically not an “international” flight, just to the Mainland from Hawaii, but hey—after being based in New Zealand for ten years, everything feels international. And I love it.