The Beginning... Europe
I've always harbored a love of travel, which is surprising because I didn't grow up in a family who traveled. A couple states over for an amusement park was the most intense things got. Europe always seemed so intriguing but the Atlantic was an impenetrable barrier. But then I got a real job, accrued some vacation days, and saved up a bit of cash. I decided I was going to Europe.
I had no idea where to start so I went to the travel agency in my local mall. Since it was my first trip, they suggested I book with Contiki, a company that caters to young travelers. I signed up for their European Experience tour, hitting 10 countries in just 22 days. (I can laugh at how ridiculous this seems now, but I was a rookie then).
It was April, 2005. I started in London, then crossed the channel into France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. In short, it was a completely life changing experience. I think I had expected the trip to be fun, maybe a start to a new hobby. But I had no idea it would have the impact it did. It was completely obvious to me that I caught the travel bug and this wasn't just another hobby. Suddenly my list of "Places to Go" started growing, and cities with massive tourism industries were joined with places a tad more obscure.