I get to travel for my job, which is pretty amazing. This year I’ve been to Nicaragua, Cambodia, Malaysia, Guatemala, Uganda and next month I go to Thailand. Sounds glamorous, right?
It is…and at the same time it isn’t. Like most things in life.
The majority of my time in another country is spent in meetings. Teaching, debriefs, one-on-ones. Sometimes there’s hardly a moment to eat. When I get back to my room at night I answer work emails before crashing. Without getting a chance to adjust to jet lag I’m back on a plane… and then another plane…and then another plane back to the States. X amount of hours into a flight my body feels half dead and I usually think, “I can’t do this again.”
When I land I most likely have cankles.
A few months ago I realized something. I was traveling (“going from one place to another”) but I wasn’t necessarily exploring (“traveling for the purpose of discovery.”) My purpose on work trips is not to discover – it’s to direct, to impart, to drive a process. To get as much done in four days as possible. Sure, sometimes exploration takes place, but that’s not the reason I’m going.
To me, exploring feels similar to the comfort and excitement of seeing an old friend. My heart races a little faster; my soul takes a deep breath.
After this realization I decided it was a good idea to intentionally travel, ahem, explore apart from work.
For years I’ve wanted to go to Austin, Boston, Denver, Savannah, South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park…but the thought of taking more time away from relationships, routine and my own bed was always a little disheartening.
Then I remembered I was 27 and single and Mount Rushmore certainly wasn’t coming to me, so I’d better get moving.
I started with Chattanooga.
Two weeks later I bought a plane ticket to Austin, Texas.
I’ve been tracking tickets to Austin since January. My dear friend Anna lives there and I’ve wanted to visit her and her banana stand for years. As fate had it, the tickets were finally in the price range I was waiting for.
Another plus: my friend Marissa lives in San Antonio, which is only an hour away from Austin. Her love for that city has made me want to venture there as well.
On top of that: my friend Chelsea decided to fly out from California to reunite with us.
This past weekend my feet hit Austin soil, and I fell in love.
I also gained 3 pounds.
We ate at an adorable French restaurant with twinkle lights, a vegetarian restaurant where they water the plants with people’s leftover cups of water, a super busy burger bar (my burger had brie cheese on it), a 24-hour cafe, an ice cream parlor (Sandra Bullock’s fav), and a couple of coffee shops. I had the most delicious chai I’ve yet to taste and the best frozen banana anyone will ever experience. Also, Topo Chico mineral water oh my gosh.
We went to the Farmer’s Market and wandered around downtown. We sat on a dock at sunset and watched the bats fly out from the bridge. One afternoon we walked around the lake and overheard The National playing at Austin City Limits.
I almost got a tattoo.
The people were weird and nice and I wanted to be friends with all of them.
On Monday I went to San Antonio with Marissa. Hello the Alamo, Riverwalk and Central Market.
When I came home to Georgia I felt buzzed. Old friends, new places, good food. No cankles. My heart was giddy and my soul at rest.
All in all, totally worth not sleeping in my bed…