Remember when I was supposed to be in El Salvador right now? Well, I’m not. I’m in good ol’ CNY. And because of that, I feel like a travel failure.
My beautiful friend Maggie (who popped her travel cherry in Nicaragua with me) has teeth and a jaw that were long ago taken over by a demon. She actually looks forward to the day she can have all of her teeth removed and get dentures instead. ‘Nuff said. A few weeks ago, she was in so much pain that she needed an emergency root canal.
Because Maggie had an infection, the Nicaraguan dentist wasn’t able to finish it. The rest would have to be completed in the States. Though Maggie could’ve physically traveled to Honduras with me, she didn’t want to spend the money. Root canals ain’t cheap, especially for someone who’s starting grad school in the fall.
(Note: I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s going to be a kick-ass social worker. Did I mention she got into every school she applied to?)
I’m a firm believer in the ability of each individual to control their own happiness and their own destiny. This means that I also believe in the power of choices and priorities. Every day is a new day to change your own life, but only if you choose to do so.
Happy people are generally ones that understand themselves, know what’s important to them, and have made choices based on those priorities.
For Maggie, not being in debt and having a healthy tooth were her priorities. So she decided to change her ticket and go home early. Though we were both disappointed that we weren’t going to travel more together, we were thankful for the wonderful months we’d had in Nicaragua, and we both knew it was the right decision.
What I didn’t expect is that my priorities would shift along with hers. I realized that 98% of the reason I was going to these countries was to be with Maggie. I didn’t have a strong drive to visit either one. Once I saw Maggie book her ticket back to the US, I felt an unexpected twinge of jealousy.
I missed my family and friends.
I’d been abroad for over three months, and though I’d LOVED my time in Nicaragua, I realized that I kind of wanted to go home, too. The way it had been scheduled, I was only going to have 4 days each in LA, San Diego, and New York to see most of the important people in my life.
But I felt like a loser. Was I really going to skip out on a trip to see two wonderful countries (one of them that I’d never been to before), just to go home?
What would all the “cool kid” backpackers at a hostel say?
I mean, it’s like totes rad to extend your ticket, bro, but for a travel blogger to head home EARLY? What a failure! I can just picture those hairy barefoot mofos chuckling to themselves over their kambucha as I write this.
By changing my ticket, I’d be choosing Helluva Good french onion dip, PJs, and reality TV on my parents’ couch over scuba diving in the Bay Islands.
WHO AM I?
Some of you are probably shaking your head at me right now, in disbelief that I passed up such an incredible experience.
But I have the feeling that some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Whatever it is you want, you just have to go for it. Some of my favorite words to live by are: “Do what makes you happy.”
Whether it’s staying in the same place your whole life, or never settling down, it doesn’t matter. Know yourself, know what you want — and LISTEN to yourself.
I didn’t want to go backpacking through Honduras and El Salvador. Though I’ve traveled by myself before, Maggie’s not coming on this trip had kind of taken the wind out of my sails.
I spent an entire morning poring over my guide book (normally one of my favorite activities) and didn’t find myself excited about anything. And, as anyone who knows me can attest, I get excited about EVERYTHING. (Especially this video of a baby pig going down the stairs.)
Though it was a sure sign that I should just head home (and use the money saved for a trip I was really stoked about), I kept stalling. I mean, I’m a TRAVEL blogger. I’m never supposed to pass up on traveling, right?
Luckily, I have friends who know me better than I know myself.
As I sat, panicked, unsure of what to do, I told them that I should at least go for “just a few days.” Because I’d feel like SUCH a loser if I went straight home.
You know what they said?
“What, do you think I’m going to send out a mass message to the travel blogging community or something?”
“Is there some Travel Junkette award that you’re going to lose out on?”
Hilarious, guys. But their questions did make me realize; who the hell am I trying to impress? I do things for me and for the ones I love. Not for anyone else.
Every traveler has had times they want to go home, and that’s okay. You’re not alone.
Maggie finally stuck it to me when she said:
“Quit being an idiot. (I’m sure she used a nicer word than this, but this is what she should’ve said.) That goes against pretty much everything you stand for. You don’t ever listen to what other people want or expect of you; you just do what makes you happy.”
And so I did. As you read this, I’m either: cuddled up on my couch in horrible sweatpants watching TV, avoiding talking with my mom about grandkids, arguing about politics with my dad, or catching up on work on a gloriously fast internet connection.
Would I rather be on a beach in some exotic Central American country? Not a chance in hell.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this. Do you think I’m a travel failure? Have you ever had a similar experience?