When I was traveling through Jordan, staying in five-star hotels and being shuttled around in a comfortable bus with Wifi and a row all to myself and watching the sunset over the Dead Sea from my balcony, I realized that seeing the best a country has to offer isn’t necessarily the best fit for me.
And just as much as I was excited about going to Jordan, I was just as thrilled to be returning back to my life and routine in New York City.
I realized I don’t want to be a full-time travel writer or professional travel blogger; I don’t want my travel to be solely confined to press trips and sponsored trips (although I certainly don’t mind one every once in a while!). Although Jordan was bursting to the seams with memorable experiences, brilliant people, beautiful landscapes and uncontrollable laughter, I cherish those unexpected, unpredictable moments that are found in curious days and unscheduled nights: learning how to make my favorite Thai salad perched on a motorbike in the streets of Chiang Mai, deciding to go paragliding over a German castle on a whim, a wrong turn that leads to a double-wide trailer instead of the hotel.
I want travel to be an escape, a treat and a retreat. I want to sleep in late or wake up to see the sunrise, to not feel pressured to update my social networks or check my email. Sometimes, I want to leave my camera or my iPhone behind: to have those moments that are blur of feelings that can’t be captured with a hashtag. I want the thrill of last-minute city breaks, hopping on a train or a plane with just a duffel bag and a good book.
I’ve created a life in New York that I really, truly love. I like buying flowers for my nightstand every week, roomie wine nights with movies set in the city, sunny Saturday afternoons sampling our way around Smorgasburg. I like when my Saturday nights go from playing pool at a dive bar to listening to live jazz to Sunday mornings of sipping lattes on a patio and going to a yoga class. I have the best kind of people here: friends from high school and college, sorority sisters and former roommates and sweet coworkers, someone who makes me laugh. I enjoy riding the subway, people watching in the park, looking up and seeing skyscrapers. I have a job that pays me to do what I love: reading pretty blogs, writing about photography and fashion, building relationships, planning parties.
Travel is still one of the driving factors of my life: it’s still what I plan my weekends around, the first priority in my discretionary spending. But other things are becoming more important to me too: my yoga practice (and the very big real goal of spending a month in India to get certified to teach), developing a personal style (sprinkled with accessories picked up around the globe), figuring out a lifestyle that creates the maximum amount of happiness.
In less than a month, TBEX will be upon us: travel bloggers will be meeting the faces behind the Twitter handles and handing over media kits in hopes of a press trip and Instagramming and Facebooking every moment. I’ve been debating whether I should go: Toronto is a quick flight from NYC, there are plenty of people I’d love to meet (and even more who I’d like to see again) and those in-person connections are what lead to the best opportunities.
But when it comes down to it, it’s not the right fit for me anymore. I’d rather stay in New York and have a birthday picnic with all of my friends in the city. I have a big work event that week, and it’s important to me that it goes well. And, most significantly, I go to Iceland the week after–and that is the sort of travel that gets me utterly, truly, giddily excited. It’s with my best friend, not a group of strangers. It’s renting a campervan with no itinerary and no expectations: just the open road in a stunning brand-new country.
It’s a chance to travel exactly how I want, and to blog about it exactly how I want. I’m not a professional travel blogger, by any means, but I travel (and I do sun salutations, and I shop, and I wander around New York City for hours on end) and I write and I take photos. And right now, that’s exactly the life I want.