Updated: Oct 3
A letter to my readers:
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The reality of international travel is, It's not always pretty. It's not always fun. Your comfort zone is stretched, your hair (everywhere) grows unruly, your thighs start to chafe. You get fevers, chills, ulcers in your mouth and various forms of bird flu, swine flu or regular flu just from being on an airplane. Your fingernails and toenails go unkempt and you aren't sure if your underwear was worn one day or three. It's the gross truth of life on the road.
The truth is, there's a lot of lines, a lot of disappointments, a lot of arguments, and often a lot of time spent too dog tired to really, fully enjoy the moment you are in. There's times when all you want to do is sleep, but instead you slog 18,000 steps across Roman ruins and foreign monuments, all in the name of travel. There's times when your brain tells you, "slow down" but your itinerary tells you "you'll miss the train if you do!".
Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes your flights get changed, sometimes you show up to a country with expired currency, and sometimes the malfunctions of your vacation are all self-imposed mishaps like pulling an emergency alarm cord thinking it's a bathroom light or making a makeshift diaper from a shopping bag. There's those fun times I can look back on - the time I was grunting at a Chinese man while squatting, to signal I need to find where the bathroom is (goodness I really do have dozens of bathroom stories). Or others where grunts are switched to oinks, moo's, clucking and baa's, to figure out what I'm having to eat that night. It can be embarrassing and mortifying, or it can be a fun memory. There's the moments (yes, several actually) where I've stumbled into what was probably a private home or club and sat down to eat and was waited on anyway, probably because I was too stupid to realize I shouldn't be there. The list is long, and the stories will surely follow here on this blog. Travel is messy.
But then, there's the other side of the coin. The reality that with every delayed flight, upright seated snooze, came-down-with-bird-flu type of scenario, there's this amazing bright light of travel. Simple stuff, really. Meeting a barn cat named Toffee who loves to be pet. Meeting the same traveler you chatted up on the way to Europe remembers and hugs you when seeing you again for the return trip from Europe. It's the memories you make enjoying meals together - whether the pig ears and blood sausage was really a good choice or not, it sure felt adventurous to be pushing the limits of my mind's eye.
Sometimes we have trouble leaving the comfort of the known. And we know life only starts at the edge of the unknown. That’s where life starts. -Jose Andres
I even enjoy the mishaps, in a twisted way. I try so hard not to look so American, or stand out so much when I travel, but sometimes I just can't help it. Shoving clumps of the good jamon into a ziploc baggie at the airport VIP lounge in Barcelona may not have been the classiest move, certainly it was the most American move, but damn did that make a great buttery delicious snack on the next flight.
The bathroom story that inspired the title of this blog was one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life, but man look what it changed! I mean, I've made a forecasted $56 on this site so far. Look at me go!
Joking aside, this is the beauty of travel and I love more than anything to hear these stories, experience these stories, and retell these stories. They are full of unique experience that at the end of the day, is really very universal. The reality of travel is we all make mistakes. We all miss a train, we all have embarrassing stories, and all of these travel moments - they changes you. Anthony Bourdain sums it up perfectly.
"Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you."
I love this. TRAVEL MORE has been my motto since I started this blog. I love to hear your stories and I love to try and make my mark on you all - whether by sharing my own mishaps and failures or by illuminating a piece or a part of the world in a spotlight that you may have never seen before. Thank you for being part of this journey with me. I look forward to filling your coffee-fueled mornings or your mid-workday slumps with entertainment and inspiring YOUR love for travel more in the future.
--Always Pack Tissues