Great reasons to travel

Great conversations are spoken in hostel kitchens and guesthouse terraces.

Great friendships can come into being with the most unlikely people in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Great fun happens when sharing a taxi on the way to the next party in the Balkans or while wandering through town when the schoolkids are going home and staring unabashedly at this temporary celebrity.

Great ideas emerge while persevering through a challenging, strenuous trek during a rainstorm or navigating through overcrowded aisles of flea markets.

Great thoughts materialize while admiring the sunset from atop an ancient, abandoned temple or feeling the crisp, morning air at the summit of an extinct volcano for sunrise.

Great reflections arise while looking out the window of a long-distance train or an overcrowded chicken bus.

Great humility is felt when staring into another person’s eyes and realizing there’s a common humanity there that unites us, despite all the perceived differences that exist.

Great lessons are learned in the most compromising, unfamiliar situations.

Great inspiration is found from the most unimaginable of sources.

Great fear is left in the past when you appreciate how many times you crossed imaginary lines and self-imposed barriers.

Great doubts and insecurities evaporate knowing and realizing that you did all of it.

Are these good enough reasons to travel?!

It all starts with the decision to go…

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Cross the bridge!

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And follow your path!

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Reflections for a new year

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Well, 2015 is here. It’s another year…

The past two years have been so incredibly meaningful, dotted with innumerable occasions that my soul yearns always to remember.

Like a firework bursting in the black sky ignited by a single spark and illuminating the night, my life has been like a firework with the initial decision to quit my job to free up time for travel having produced treasured accomplishments, triumphs, memories, friends – each highlight part of a collective memory but flickering uniquely and unmistakably in the kaleidoscope of my mind.

The past couple years have been filled with experiences where I’ve not only stepped outside my comfort zone, but expanded it so that I now feel comfortable in so many more situations and environments. They have been years where I’ve pushed myself to my limits and reached new frontiers in what I now know I’m capable of. They have been years where I’ve crossed lines that I assumed were so far beyond my reach, only to realize my surprise when I discovered that my strength could take me so far beyond these lines. They have been years where I’ve periodically stopped and shaken my head, marvelling at how everything comes together almost magically at a common time and place to create something really special.

And they’ve been years that will fill my upcoming years with laughter and merriment each time I recount the strange circumstances in which I’ve found myself that sound utterly ridiculous to declare as fact (That time a guy tried to mug me in Morocco/That time the marshrutka dropped me off at the side of the highway in Georgia, 10km outside of the town I wanted to get to/That time I hiked to the top of a mountain in Taiwan only to have a 360 degree view of dense fog/That time I rode a bicycle in Thailand to a hospital to get the stitches on my foot removed/That time I fell in a moat in Myanmar/That time I was sleeping in a hammock at a hippy lodge in Nicaragua/etc/etc/)…

Like any year, I know this one will also be filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, trials and tribulations that will continue to make me question and wonder.

But you know, 2015 is another year of life. It’s another year in which I continue to breathe and I know that once in a while, my breath will be taken away by something so beautiful and unexpected. It’s another year in which my heart continues to beat, and I’ll appreciate that sometimes it will beat lightly in comfort and safety while other times it will pound to its limits, like on a challenging trek.

It’s another year to dream, another year to learn, another year to love, and, of course, another year to travel!

The past years have been so good to me, and I’m grateful. Yet somehow I know, without any tangible proof, that the best is still yet to come. Always.

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