STARTING AGAIN IN CHIANG MAI: THE CITY THAT INSPIRED ME TO TRAVEL THE WORLD

Okay, I’m excited a lot, but I haven’t been this excited in a long time. When I touched down in Bangkok a few days ago, I saw in the airplane window a reflection of a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed guy seeing a place for the first time all over again. That guy was me. I was home.

For years, I’ve dreamed of getting back to my roots, slinging my backpack over my shoulder, and traveling without a plan again. However, life always seemed to get in the way and trips got delayed. “Something” always came up.

It was easy to build a routine and enter a comfort zone. Days ticked by and, before I knew it, years have passed and the list of things to see got longer and more daunting.

After months of talking about it, here I am, back in Southeast Asia, actually doing it. It’s finally real! I am back in Thailand, the country where it all began, to spend extended time traveling around the region. I’ve felt more relaxed and rested in the last couple of days than I have in months.

I’m in the country where, on my first visit, I got ripped off twice in one day (back to back mind you), I ate McDonald’s because street food seemed scary, and my idea of roughing it was a three-star hotel.

And I loved every moment of it! It threw me out of my comfort zone and hooked me on traveling even more.

This is the start of a five-month journey, and I’m going to enjoy every moment and take every opportunity. I’m starting my new backpacking trip in the city of Chiang Mai, the place where I met the five backpackers who changed my life. The ones who showed me that long-term travel on a budget was possible and made me tell my traveling companion, “Scott, I’m going to go home and quit my job to travel the world.”

I often wonder what happened to them. How long did they travel? Where did they go? What are they doing now? I doubt they would recognize me today, and if it wasn’t for an old picture I have of us, I wouldn’t either.

They changed my life — and put me on the path that led me to where I am today.

What drew me to travel was the feeling of infinite possibility it brings. You can do anything you want and you never know where the day will truly take you. As I look out at the next few months, I have that feeling again. While I have a general route in mind, there are so many options, and I could end up anywhere. All I know is that I’ll be in new places, seeing new things, and meeting new people.

After two months here, it’s back across the big blue Pacific and down to South America where I’ll explore Patagonia, turn right at Machu Picchu, explore the Amazon, and get drunk off of slowly slip Argentine wine.

I’m lucky enough to have a career that allows me to plop myself down half-way across the world and spend as much time as I want there. But even if you don’t have the same luxury, don’t let your inner naysayer hold your back. It’s never too late to start again and accomplish the things you’ve dreamed of doing.

Because even if it’s finally getting motivated to go to the gym, take up dance classes, or learn archery (something I never “had the time” to do), it’s never too late to begin. It’s never too late to say “Honey, let’s finally take the kids to Europe.”

As Dave Matthews said, “the future is no place to place your better days.”

And, right now, I’m having some of the best days I’ve had in awhile.

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