By Joanna B
This is the debut of a new CheapAir blog series: Why I Travel. We invite our community to submit their own stories for this series to Stories@CheapAir.com.
Flash back to New Year’s Eve 2012, Sydney, Australia. I’m in a German restaurant and I’m standing in the front of the room, with the band. At a glance, any unassuming passerby in the street outside would think the restaurant is small; tight quarters, even. But truly, inside it’s a labyrinth of tables and rooms; of communal diners chowing down at long maple tables, servers in traditional German garb, flustered hosts trying to squeeze past trays of steak and fish. We had ended up at the Lowenbrau in Sydney, of all ridiculous places, mostly by happenstance. Booking dinner reservations from the other side of the planet for Sydney’s busiest night of the year isn’t easy; we snagged the first one we got.
The band lead hands me a bell.
Before I know it, I’m jamming with the band and shaking the bell like it’s going out of style. My husband has moved to the front of the room and he’s taking picture after picture. I feel like I’m five years old again. I am giddy and two-days jetlagged and my face aches from laughing.
By the end of the night, we’re on a first name basis with the older couple sitting next to us. They’ve whipped out their cell phones to show us photos of their kids. We slip out the door with them just before midnight to watch the Sydney fireworks explode in the sky above the Harbor Bridge. We walk to the train station together and linger in the streets. Email addresses are exchanged along with promises to stay in touch.
Strangers turning into friends—that’s why I travel.
Of course I travel for other reasons, too.
I booked a trip to Croatia a few years ago, on a whim with a friend, just to get away. We did no research and at the end of what started as a normal phone call, flights were booked. We left the country with no idea where we were going to sleep each night. I think there was something that we loved about that: the sheer unknowing, my urgent negotiations with locals at airports and bus stops to rent rooms; the quick exchange of cash for key. At one point we ended up in a small flat inside the walls of a castle…lovely, right? Well, we found out too late that anything within castle walls can’t legally be renovated. If only I had a photo of what the bathrooms looked like!
The unknown—that’s why I travel.
In Costa Rica, it was a different matter. My husband and I sauntered into town one sizzling afternoon and bought tickets for a zip lining tour. We had agreed to go zip lining, because that’s what people do in Costa Rica, right?
“I’m scared of heights,” I told the sales guy. “How high is this thing, really?”
“Oh, it’s great for people who are afraid of heights! A really perfect first challenge, not so high compared to others,” I was told.
I reflected on his words, two hours later, as we climbed up a mountain by van, slowly carving up narrow pathways through jungle. And we climbed…and we climbed.
Sure, I had the good ‘ole harness on, a hard hat, and hooks seemed to be attached to every surface. But my palms were sweaty. I made nervous jokes with the instructors and one interrupted me with, “You’re a control freak, aren’t you?”
Before I even thought to be offended, I said, “Yes!”
The exhilaration I felt as I took that step off of a wooden ledge—onto nothing but air, with trees and a waterfall hundreds of feet below me—is indescribable.
The challenge—that’s why I travel.
CheapAir Community: Why do you travel? What inspires you and motivates you to hop a flight or hit the road? Send us your stories to Stories@CheapAir.com.
Joanna B. is a marketing manager for CheapAir.com.