Thanks and Goodbye: Part 2

[Read Part One]

Privileged.

That’s the word that came to mind after I witnessed the Grand Canyon from a helicopter

Privileged.

And maybe that’s why I got a bit emotional, because that word summed up these past six weeks for me.

I wish I had the ability to explain what it was like, traveling for The Big Yellow Border, but I simply don’t.

Twelve years ago, I decided to sell everything I owned and head to Europe on a one-way ticket – it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I remember almost being in tears trying to figure out how a British payphone worked so I could call my parents back in Oklahoma and let them know I had made it.

But I had made it – and that realization outweighed all the other voices in my head telling me to go back home and take the normal route. Because we do live in a society that tends to make people who aren’t “normal” feel bad about it.

But I kept at it – for no other reason than being fascinated by what’s out there. There were a few times when I did come back home, and tried to acclimate, to fit in, but it never stuck. I was miserable.

And so, I’d take whatever money I could and get on another plane… I had no idea what awaited me once I landed, but that was the weirdly comforting part – I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing, even though I was scared to death.

This would go on for the better part of a decade.

And then one afternoon in Buenos Aires, with $42 left in my bank account, I got a call.

A call from them.

National Geographic.

During the course of this trip, I never made a big deal about who I was writing for, but there would be this dance. Someone would ask what I did and I’d say “travel writer,” then they’d ask “who for?” and I’d just smile and whisper “The Big One.” Their eyes would get big and they’d whisper back “National Geographic?!” and I’d nod and smile some more.

It’s something everyone should feel – to be doing the greatest thing in the world [traveling], for the magazine that inspired us to do it in the first place.

And it is something you can feel.

Because one of you will be the next person to sit here, writing this.

But that means you have to go now – no more waiting around for permission.

Go now.

Sell everything, stop worrying about the consequences, take out a new credit card, start writing. Unfriend anyone who asks when you’re going to “get serious.”

Accept that cars aren’t necessary and that some meals take hours, that we can now fly to space, that there’s nothing wrong with crashing on couches if you’re on an adventure, that three outfits are enough, that sunrises are free, that the first time you see Machu Picchu it will break your heart, that being alone in a country with no money and no return ticket will teach you more about yourself than any therapist ever could…

That life happens when you start living outside of that box – not just thinking outside of it.

And when that’s done, your chances of getting The Call will have improved by an incalculable margin.

So, thank you, for coming along with me on this journey, for helping me along the way – with a suggestion, or just a kind word that kept me going.

I can’t wait to see which one of you go next.

- Aric S. Queen

Comments

  1. Mika Botial
    Philippines
    June 22, 2012, 9:49 pm

    Hi Aric/ The Good Traveler! I don’t understand why you chose to say Goodbye in your title. You should say Hello instead, Hello to the new places and new good people you will meet. Anyway… I love part 2 better than part 1 because it’s more personal and I can relate with it, with you. But I’m just 17, still in school but I’ve wanted to hop on a plane alone since I was 10. Thanks for the advice you gave in part 2. I’ll get to it in my free time or when I’m too bored to listen to my college professors. And I want to tell you I’ll be the next person sitting there, writing. I’m the one who will get The Call and work for The Big One :) Travel safe!

  2. ahmed ali
    June 25, 2012, 7:50 am

    being stuck in a country without any money i can manage but being stuck in a country with no way to communicate with the native people now thts wat i call a problem ;) that is why i always carry a eton phrasebook in my kindle, they have phrasebooks in 19 languages as ebooks
    check out their website http://www.etonphrasebooks.com

  3. [...] [Read Part Two] Keywords: Aric S. Queen, road trip, The Good Traveler, travel (1) More » [...]

  4. Madeline Harmon
    Tulsa, OK
    June 25, 2012, 6:47 pm

    My dear Aric, I am too old to throw caution to the wind and sell everything for such an adventure, but because of you, I am able to travel vicariously through you to all the interesting places you go. So, thank you my friend, for being “abnormal” and allowing an old woman to share in your experiences.

  5. anthony
    central California
    August 29, 2012, 6:06 pm

    I was touched by your insights into traveling without luxurys and learning about yourself without societies rules and their dependancy on money.I myself have helped a few individuls fullfill their bucketlists with in state and interstate Freight train tours. how to navigate, what to bring and most importantly, how not to get caught. this is an extreme adventure NOT for the timidbut for the seasoned backpaker, the ultimate

  6. Davie Pocstar
    Toronto
    September 1, 2012, 7:29 pm

    This inspiring post head every nail on the head. You are the kind of writer I aspire to be. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Davie Pocstar
    Toronto
    September 12, 2012, 2:53 pm

    I meant ‘hit every nail on the head’ (: