I love writing about the world, but I didn’t start out as a very good traveler.

Until I was 28, I’d barely left California let alone the country. And I was okay with that. My world was small and safe. I knew how much each coin in my wallet was worth. I spoke the language. But then a cute guy told me about trains and hostels and unexpected adventures, and that’s when I started to feel like I might just be missing out on something. Eventually, we took sabbaticals from our jobs, scraped our pennies together, and took off for our first big adventure: Five weeks in Southeast Asia to celebrate our engagement.

We started in Borneo. You know, the place from Survivor Season 1. The one with the bugs as big as house cats and monkeys that steal your lunch. We saw a monitor lizard that could have swallowed me in one bite if I hadn’t run screaming. When we snorkeled, I swam away from the fish (in my defense, they had teeth). Even though Borneo was my idea (I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t “touristy”), I spent most of that week wondering why I wasn’t sprawled out on a sandy beach, drinking a sweet beverage out of a hollowed-out pineapple.

Then we arrived in Thailand. We fed elephants in Chaing Rai. We visited Buddhist Temples built into jungle valleys of Krabi. On Ko Pha Ngan, we read books from hammocks overlooking the sea by day and danced barefoot on the beach during the island’s now-famous Full Moon parties by night. We ate delicious food, drove a rickety jeep in an insane rainstorm, and we remarked to each other how everyone—and I mean everyone—seemed to be smiling. All the time. It was magical. I was bitten by a lot of mosquitoes but I was also bitten by the travel bug.

We saw a lot more of Southeast Asia during that five-week trip, and I only have one regret. I wish I could go back to that first week in Borneo and woman-up. They’re monkeys, for goodness sake.

Since then, my travel adventures have been much less daring, but equally memorable. I fell in love with Italy one summer, and specifically with Sienna and the Cinque Terre region.  Over two weeks, we visited castles, saw Il Palio, and met locals whose smiles rivaled those that greeted us in Thailand. Every day, I want to go back.

I haven’t seen nearly enough of the world, and now my wish list is long. But as I’ve happily discovered, writing about the places I’ve been and the cities I want to visit is almost as fulfilling as going there. Unlike my characters, I don’t possess any supernatural talents, but writing has given me a power I never expected: I’ve enjoyed more espressos in little European towns than I ever did in real life.

Where does your writing take you?

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