Guest Post :: Laura, Minnesota, USA

We’d like to introduce one of our repeat guests, Laura, who has joined us around the world on various retreats for the past few years. She wanted to share her thoughts on travel and we’re happy to include her here on the blog.

At the Torii Gates in Japan

Thirteen years. Twenty countries. Countless more to go.

The more I travel, the more it becomes apparent to me that it is in my DNA. As a kid, I loved going on trips – whether a staycation to a nearby hotel or a warm weather getaway to escape the Midwest winters. Despite my love of travel, the first time I left the country was in my late 20s. A year or so later, I decided that I was going to visit a new country every year until something got in my way.

Spoiler alert: nothing has gotten in my way.

Thirteen years after my first trip abroad, I celebrated a milestone birthday with a travel milestone – 20 countries visited! Flipping through countless photos, I took some time to think about how I got here…and why I keep traveling.

The thing I love about these adventures is that no two trips are ever alike. Sure, I might take the same steps in planning the trip and pack my suitcase the same methodical way—it is magically 36 pounds, regardless of how long I’m traveling— but the experience always leaves a distinct mark. Admittedly, I haven’t loved every place I’ve gone, but they’ve all provided me with something new. Some have been challenging for various reasons, while others have been smooth sailing. But they have all seemingly been what I needed at the time.

People often ask me which trip was my favorite. And while I don’t have one, there are some that stand out among the crowd for the things I learned:

  • Cambodia and Thailand: The vacation that started it all. My first international trip showed me I could go anywhere. And I never looked back. Being vastly different from the United States in so many ways, it gave me a new level of respect for different cultures. (It also solidified my love of Thai food!)

  • Ireland: Even with a great travel partner in crime, it’s always good to take some time to explore on your own. Wander through a museum, hit up some shops or take a walk. You’ll be happy you did. Oh, and the best french fries are at the Jameson distillery.

  • Indonesia: I’ve never been as relaxed as I was in Bali. Even in a bustling city, there is a Zen feeling that is contagious. Whether taking a yoga class, lounging by the pool, or exploring the countryside, I discovered it is possible to fully disconnect and be stress-free. Just lock your phone in the safe and soak it all in!

  • Fiji: Taking a trip on your own can be just what the doctor ordered. As much as I love to travel, the thought of a solo international trip was a little daunting. Yes, there were times I felt a little lonely, but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. I still chuckle at how concerned the hotel staff was that I was traveling alone. Pretty sure they thought I was supposed to be on a honeymoon versus enjoying paradise by myself.

  • Italy: Sometimes all you need is delicious pasta, wine and gelato (in no particular order) for a group of strangers to quickly become friends. Less than an hour in Florence, I declared to my sister that I could live there. I was hooked. It’s the only country I’ve visited twice, and I thank EAT.PRAY.MOVE for this. With an amazing host, you really can experience parts of a country the average tourist would never see.

One thing is for sure: As much as I love experiencing a new country, nothing beats the feeling of coming home…and starting to plan the next trip!