One word: addicting
One thing I’ve learned is that if you start, you’ll never stop. It’s an expensive hobby, but well worth the time and money. I love seeing new places, trying new foods, but most of all seeing the world in a way I never imagined as a kid in NC. Fascinating! When I first started traveling, I felt a need to plan everything. Every single moment needed to be packed full, so I did not miss any potentially awesome experience. It was exhausting, but the memories were worth the lost sleep, early mornings and late nights.
The first time I winged a vacation I felt adrift. It was also my first time flying to another country by myself to add to the insanity. The plan was Antigua Guatemala for immersion Spanish for a month- that was all I arranged. No side trips, extra plans or anything. Show up, learn, return home. I arrived, speaking about 5 words of Spanish, hoping to use my free weekends to travel in between classes… hoping at the same time I could accumulate enough Spanish to actually set up and manage said travel. Wow. Scariest step forward of my life! I did learn Spanish; at least enough to manage at work during a delivery; which was my main reason for the trip in the first place. I also learned to try new things, venture out on my own, trust chicken buses on narrow mountain roads, to love freshly blended papaya juice (there is nothing quite so amazing as this and fresh pineapple with lime and salt!) etc etc. Oh, and bargaining is so much fun! I spent extra time practicing my numbers just so I could have fun in the market. It was a perfect experience, because I was forced to leave my world behind and throw myself into a new culture through language. I learned far more than I expected.
This, beyond the amazing sights of a new place, is the reason travel can be so special. It pushes me beyond my comfort zone. It forces me to venture into the unknown. And what I find there is so much more than cute pictures to share with my family and friends.
Although that’s fun, too.
I think experience of life is one of those things that helps me grow as a writer. It isn’t enough to just have an idea, or cool concept. I have to also make a rich world that provides a completely immersive experience. How better to do this than using the things around me?