A friend of mine used to tell me that I loved travel because I didn’t like reality. She swore that was the reason I loved laying on a beach in Cancun or seeing the sights of Europe. Perhaps part of that is true, but most of life was pretty great. If you’re healthy and have the ability of choice – what’s the problem, right? I had another friend who told me that if I loved ‘summer Stacey’, wouldn’t I want to try to embrace that person all year ’round? I imagine, in a sense, they were both right. Travel and summer, for me, have always provided a lifestyle involving freedom, possibilities, smiles and endless optimism. They’re the chocolate ice cream for toddlers and the glitter for crafters rolled into one.
Travel has been my vice for decades, now and I always figured there are far worse vices to have than this one. This one not only explodes my comfort zone, introduces me to all things new, challenges and excites, pokes at fear, provides changing perspective, develops growth, opens up millions of possibilities and reminds those involved that kindness is the global language. I’ve been a witness to travel’s changes and have felt them within. When I was new to travel, I always played it safe. Once I got my feet wet, I let in a little more risk, but only that which felt navigable to me. With experiences accrued, the risk ratio skyrocketed. Travel changed my outlook on the world, brought me to my husband, showed me life in places I never thought I’d go and eventually, flipped my goals on their collaborative heads. The person typing this today is not the same as the young girl who grew up in a little town on Long Island. I’ve seen a bit of the world and I want more.
Since I have no giant trust fund and against all reports, no money tree either, somehow I hoped there was a way to incorporate the lessons of travel into life lived always. There are times between adventures, that you’re in one place for awhile. Choosing a place that will light you up from the inside makes a huge difference during those lapses in flight plans. Spending summers in Long Beach, New York helped. Flinging ourselves into life in San Diego has helped. And recently, we remembered even more why channeling that travel mindset on any given Tuesday is always a good option.
We’ve always tried to work travel into the everyday. Whether it’s changing one’s attitude on a rainy day, heading out to explore a known ‘touristy’ spot, or going where the locals go – the things we love about travel can be found almost anywhere. In the past few weeks, we’ve been to two new supermarkets. The first is an Asian grocer that upon walking in beams us back to parts of Bangkok and Hong Kong reminding us again of some of the many reasons we love those places in the world. Some of our favourite travel finds are here, new foods to try and walking each aisle transports us immediately into a market on the other side of the world. The second is a Mexican supermarket. It took us almost two years before we learned of this store and I’m certain it will take us less than two months to return. Some foods we know and love are there and others we’ve yet to encounter but were instantly enticed. In both experiences, the language spoken by many of the shoppers was different to our own and any questions we had were asked through a combination of English and (Spanish in the Mexican market) or pointing to pictures. As travel often does, we were placed outside of our comfort zone and forced to embrace diversity even when doing the simplest thing such as shopping for salsas or soy sauce. Smiles adorned our faces as we turned down each aisle waiting to see what was to come next. Two supermarkets, less than twenty minutes from our apartment in downtown San Diego reminded us once again of only some of the gifts of travel.
And more recently, we had some friends visit from overseas. In New York, we would have said we’re ‘playing tourist’ when we had visitors, but in San Diego, we’re living our lives. Yes, of course, some of the places to which we brought our guests are not those we frequent on a daily basis, but they’re all nearby and on our regular hit list. Of course, with each visitor to the place you call home, you begin to see things through the eyes of your guests. This time, we remembered exactly why we chose this city, why we’ve stayed for 22 months instead of the 3 we first thought we might and why, if you have the opportunity to give it a whirl, choosing a quality of life from which you benefit daily can make such a difference in your moment to moment outlook.
I don’t think the friends who told me I disliked reality were right, but I don’t think they were entirely wrong either. If you have the power to change your reality, shift your existence or channel that which makes you happy to become a more regular occurrence, do it. For me, the difference has been truly perspective changing. Happy travels.