I wear lots of metaphorical hats: my work hat, my family hat, my soccer hat, my friend hat. And then, three weeks a year, I get to wear my travel hats. Literally and metaporically – I always pack at least three varieties because I really have no other opportunity to don any of them ordinarily and I love hats. Hence, the name of this blog.
For me, there’s leisurely traveling, then there’s traveling on steroids. While I’m not a fan of packing in my trips with ten cities in three days, I’m also allotted three weeks plus a few long weekends a year to tour the world. For this reason, I’ve become a master planner of squeezing the most out of an entire country for the lowest possible cost within the given block of time by corporate America without reducing myself to my colleagiate hostel days. To quit my job and wander the world with a backpack in tow is a dream weighed down by my own practicality and responsibility. What would I do for money? What kind of job could I get when I returned? How long would that take? What would be my purpose for living in a random city with no job?
The closest I ever came to quitting my job and traveling the world was last autumn, when I accepted a fellowship to complete my MBA in Paris. Of course, I had found a legitimate reason that satisfied my inner responsibleness, the boring call to duty. I had to actually leave my editor job at the magazine in Los Angeles, even though I was in discussion with our Washington, D.C. headquarters about putting my MBA to use afterwards on the business side. My choices were to stay in L.A. and work while dragging myself to evening business school classes, or go to Paris. I can’t say it was a tough decision.
But even then it was hardly the romantic hippie lifestyle, considering I was renting a lovely one-bedroom flat in the trendy Bastille section of Paris and jetting off to my friend’s place in Genoa on weekends and to other European cities with my boyfriend-now-husband (who also quit his job to hang out with me, but like me, he needed a purpose, so he got himself into a graduate school program that had a three-week course study in Barcelona). Four months later, we returned to the U.S., nearly broke, exhausted, thinner, and exceedingly happy.
Then it was back to reality. I took a job with the same company, and he enrolled in graduate school, and then we got married. After the wedding whirlwind (we had a short four-month engagement), we got antsy sitting around at home and decided to travel again – and what perfect excuse other than our honeymoon?
So, we are Thailand-bound in less than three weeks. Of course, we came nearly close to cancelling our trip after the Thais decided we didn’t need our honeymoon and set up camp at the airports to protest the government. Fortunately, the prime minister stepped down, so business resumed as usual, as did our honeymoon. (I’m really not taking sides on this issue – I am just happy someone did something to allow our honeymoon to continue). We will be starting in Bangkok and trekking our way from Chiang Mai’s jungles and remote villages to the historic ruins of the North before retiring to our beach bungalow in Koh Tao to be massaged on a daily basis by the beach. Stay tuned for updates on planning for this trip (I have already started packing – yes, three weeks in advance. Taking carry-on luggage only requires a lot of strategy and time).