It’s 4:20 (on 4/20, no less!), which means that most of you in and around my time zone have already clocked out for the week. For those of you who aren’t yet high or drunk on something, I’d like to take a moment to explain the ins and outs my travel inspiration.
This post is in response to my good friend Megan of Bohemian Trails, who nominated me in her post on the same subject. Click here to read the rules for this “Inspiration Initiative” as set forth by easyJet, a low-cost airline that can fly you cheaply to basically anywhere in Europe.
My father, a steel salesman, traveled around the country five (or more) days per week for the better part of my childhood. I was happy to see him go — but not about the fact that he was leaving. Rather, the sight of airplanes taking off from St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport always sent a thrill through my little body.
I was of fascinated by the fact the spending just a few hours in one of these pressurized tubes as it sped through the air could take you to almost anywhere you wanted to go, but my love of airplanes didn’t end there. I knew the names and liveries of all the major airlines and could identity most major aircraft types before I knew how to multiply or divide.
My parents gave me a large world map for my sixth birthday in 1991. Just as I’d almost instantly absorbed all the facts my father told me about the airplanes I flew on, I quickly became familiar with all of the countries on the map, as well as their capitals, their sizes and their locations relative to one another.
I used to fall asleep dreaming about what life was like in, say, Tehran or Jakarta. I would check out as many books on foreign countries as I could find from the library at Uthoff Valley Elementary School and read as much as I could, hoping (but not knowing) that I would eventually be able to see at least a few of them in real life.
We moved several times during my childhood and for this fact alone, I got to see a great deal of the country, if in a transitory, un-glamorous way. I would spend most of the money I earned working part-time during high school and college following my favorite singer, Tori Amos, around the country and, eventually, back and forth across Europe.
It wasn’t until 2009, when I traveled to India, that I truly feel I became inspired to travel. India was the only “different” place I had been up to that point, and although I found myself frequently stressed out, annoyed or sick — usually, all three at once — I knew the moment I got on the plane back to America that I was never going to be able to keep my itchy feet in one place again.
Unfortunately, the tangible circumstances of my life upon returning from India weren’t such that I could just pick up and leave. I’d been unemployed for several months, and prospects of finding a job that would both finance my travels and afford me the time to travel seemed dim. Desperate, I found a job teaching English in Shanghai and that November, headed over the Pacific.
Living in China not only allowed to learn about a culture slowly and in-depth, but exposed me to incredible professional opportunities. Most notably, I got a gig freelancing with CNNGo, the network’s online product aimed at wealthy expats living in Asia. Shortly thereafter, I began freelance writing full-time and, since freelance income is 100% location-independent, have been traveling as frequently as my sanity allows ever since.
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I hereby nominate:
(Apologies if any of you have already written your entries; if you haven’t you also need to nominate five other bloggers once you post yours)