The Tiger Bar ceiling was covered in scribbles and drawings. It took me a few moments to decipher which quote she was talking about.
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only the first [sic] page."
We smiled smugly at each other. Surely this trip was worth a few chapters. I hastily fished a notebook and pen out of my purse and recorded the uncredited words before returning to our table. We'd found ourselves a group of Irishmen (and one New Zealander) and this was no time for reflection. I sipped my Thai beer and danced depending on which American pop song had made its way to the Koh Phi Phi islands.
When I got on the plane to return home, I swore I'd return to Thailand. I didn't know when or how but the country had met me so sweetly that I knew it was only the beginning. Indeed, I knew this would be a new era for me.
I don't hail from travelers. I believe my family went on 3 vacations, not counting the camping trips of my early childhood. Still, I always imagined myself traveling, perhaps because of all the books I read. The first time I flew on a plane, I was 14 and off to DC with my youth group.
I headed to college determined I would study abroad. European adventure, here I come! Except my college set up their study abroad program differently or, shall we say, expensively. I couldn't afford to go. I tucked those dreams away.
A month after I graduated with my MSW, I headed to Trang, Thailand with a non-profit for 3 weeks. I guessed it would be the only time in my life I'd have that much time to travel. (Not entirely true.) I thought it might be the only way I'd ever get over to Asia. (So far, true.) I fundraised my way there. Sometimes I marvel I went there. It changed me in countless ways.
I went to Thailand believing this would be my one great travel story but it turned out to be the first of many. Because of that trip, I prioritize travel. I want to see as much of the US and the world as I possibly can.
I'm not made of money. I've come to believe it doesn't really matter what you do for a living. There are always ways to explore for less. I may not be able to go somewhere as soon as I'd like but I'll get there eventually. Patience is a virtue.
No matter how much or little I'm earning, I work toward my goal of traveling. I have a long list of places I want to explore in no particular order. There are also places I want to return to.
Travel is a huge perk of singleness. I'm only paying for myself. I only factor my whims in when making plans. When I have time off work or an amazing opportunity comes my way, I don't have to consider anyone's needs other than my own. I decide where I want to go and make it happen.
I travel because it's good to get out of my comfort zone and because I have an insatiable curiosity about other places and people. I travel because I'm different when I do. Vacation Leigh is a little more spontaneous, outgoing, and adventurous. Vacation Leigh takes more time to smell the roses. She's still an introvert and requires some time spent reading or holed away to recharge but she's strangely energized by all the newness as well. There are good lessons to learn each time.
In the last decade since Thailand, I've hiked part of the Grand Canyon twice. I've explored Spain and Ecuador. I've been named an expert whiskey taster in Ireland. I've gone to the Amahoro Gathering in Uganda and danced at a well in Burundi. I've added to Bubble Gum Alley in Seattle and stayed in my friend's guest house in Birmingham. I've sat in Austin coffeehouses for hours and road tripped to New Orleans for a concert.
I travel because the world is a book and I've never been able to turn down a good one.
This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour. Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. I cannot wait to read this book! To learn more and join us, head here.