Traveling abroad with Riley Pay


Kylee McFarland


While junior Riley Pay is fairly new to the world of traveling, her parents are very familiar with it and have opened her eyes to the possibilities that arise as a result of traveling the world. She wasn’t sure at first when her parents suggested taking off a semester to travel the world, but it ended up being a decision she would never regret.

Her parents wanted to share their love of traveling with their daughters.

“They traveled all of the time,” Pay said. ¨In fact, they met by being based in the same city for their jobs with American Airlines. Since both of them had free flights as a perk from their airline employment, they would take random little trips whenever they felt like it. They even coordinated their schedules sometimes so that they would be able to work the same flights.”

Even though Riley’s parents were familiar with traveling, she still was a bit nervous about the idea of taking a full semester off to travel last year.

¨When the idea of taking the semester off was first brought up in my family, I was honestly not very excited about it,” Pay said. “I knew that I loved traveling and that I’d probably love it, but I’m the kind of person that gets major fear of missing out, so leaving GHS didn’t seem ideal to me. I was worried about missing out on fun things like going out with my friends and track season.” Pay said.

Eventually, Pay became more accustomed to the thought of taking the semester off to look at the world outside of our limited Granville bubble.

¨As we talked about it though and the time for making the final decision came closer, I started to get more excited about it.¨ Pay said. ¨We had a meeting with Mr. Durst and Mrs. Cooper about all of our different options for online schools and how missing the semester would impact us. They highly encouraged us to take advantage of our travel opportunities and take the semester off, and that night we talked about it as a family and made our final decision.¨

Once the decision was made, the Pay family embarked on their travels, going to different states, countries and continents.

In the United States she’s been to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, California, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisiana and Michigan. Around the world she’s vacationed to The Bahamas, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Austria and Sicily.

On each of her travels, she had a few necessities that she required including her GoPro, multiple plug adapters, and her straightener. To see what you would need, click here to make your own travel checklist.

Out of all the places that she and her family traveled, the prettiest place in her opinion was a quaint town in Europe.
“Werfen, Austria, is the prettiest place I´ve been to,” Pay said. “Werfen is a small and very traditional Austrian village with castles and the Alps surrounding it.”

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Even though that was the prettiest place that she had been to, it was not necessarily her favorite.
“Every place that I´ve been to is so different, so it’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to pick one it would probably be Madrid, Spain.” Pay said. “I love Madrid because it’s a big city but it still has so many unique qualities and such friendly citizens.¨

Madrid was her favorite, but she still made a multitude of memories at the other places that she traveled to including an island in Australia, a hike in Austria, and an unforgettable trip to Japan that she was able to spend with one of her close friends and sister.

¨It’s impossible to pick one moment that stood out from the rest. One of my favorite traveling memories would have to be swimming in Montague Island in Australia.”  Pay said. ¨The water was bright blue and there were seals everywhere that let us come super close to them and swam in circles around us.”

Montague Island is a nature reserve in Australia that protects hundreds of seals and several bird species. It is constantly working to enhance the experience for visitors while providing a safe place for the animals to live.

¨Another one of my favorite memories would have to be hiking in Werfen, Austria up to an ice cave,” Pay said. “It was an uphill climb that took about 45 minutes. Throughout the hike, we were surrounded by the most breathtaking views of the Alps. It was so beautiful that it didn’t seem real.¨

Another favorite memory of Pay’s is her recent trip to Japan with her sister, Carly, and her friend, Anna.
“[We] got to spend the whole trip by ourselves in an apartment,” Pay remembers. “We had so much fun, got to experience so many cool places, try many different foods, and meet so many people. We stayed out until about 5:00 in the morning every single night and made the most of our time there.¨

During her stay overseas, Pay made friends with people from all different cultures and backgrounds.

“On our flight to Costa Rica, Carly and I sat in a row with a girl named Gaby Alpizar,” said Pay. “She told us all about her life in Guanacaste, and she recommended a bunch of really cool places for us to go while we were there.”

She also met a guy named Charan while in Costa Rica.

“We all watched the sunset on the beach together one night, and he talked to us about his job at a ziplining company and his life in Costa Rica,” Pay said.

In Japan, she met a guy named Schabbi from France, Didi from Sweden, Johnny from Detroit, and a girl named Sakura from Japan.

“We hung out with them until about 4:00 in the morning and they told us about their backgrounds and how they ended up living in Fukuoka, Japan.” said Pay “Anna also introduced us to her friends Yu and Yume who could not speak English very well, but we still had a really good time with.”

The people she met opened her eyes to the diversity in the world and she learned to appreciate their cultures.

“There is so much diversity in the world that you don’t always get to experience in the US, especially in a town like Granville,” Pay said. “For example, in Japan, most of the women try to cover themselves up with their clothing as much as they can no matter how hot the weather is. In Amsterdam and Spain, people stand on the streets and openly ask you if you will come to their ‘coffee shop’ which is where people go to smoke and buy a bunch of different strains of marijuana.”

Pay anticipates making the most of her travelling benefits and may even take a gap year to experience life abroad.

“Traveling has opened my mind immensely,” said Pay. “I have become much more experienced and much more educated on how other cultures work. Traveling has made me much more adventurous and experimental because it takes me out of what I know and forces me to go experience something new. I think traveling has made me a more accepting person overall because I have now experienced many different cultures and met many people within them which has made me more open to people’s differences.”