I used to travel a lot for work.
And when I say "work", I mean the full-time job that somebody employed me to do before I became a freelancer. The trips were brief and intense - packed with meetings and long work days - but my bosses were understanding and wherever possible I was encouraged to get out and see a quick snapshot of my surroundings. And I took full advantage of this. I did underground tours in Seattle, had a quick afternoon beer on Nyhaven in Copenhagen and took a sunset walk along the Danube in Budapest. At the time I thought I was so lucky. I'm sort of serious when I say that the job and these short travel opportunities kept me warm at night.
When I left that job and first started travelling "full-time" in October 2011, I began to truly appreciate and believe in slow travel. I let places sink into my skin, I built routines to the rhythms of others and I treasured the gift of time that let me make informed opinions about a place, its people and its culture. As my love for long-term travel grew, I also started to look back on those former days of short but sweet travel with a tinge of regret. Retrospectively, I felt frustrated that I went to all these fantastic places and I was unable to take enough time to get off that dreaded beaten track, to explore and absorb more of a place like I do now.
Then I stumbled upon these photos taken by a colleague I barely knew during a work trip in Egypt four years ago.
A year ago I may have glanced on these photos of the Pyramids of Giza and thought: "How sad, there I was, rushing around taking quick photos in front of one of the wonders of the world with someone I hardly knew rather than a friend or loved one or heck, even on my own,".
Now I look at these photos and think "Wow, there I was..."
Because look at me. There's no denying I'm savouring a moment .
It doesn't matter that it was with an awkward stranger or that I had to rush off to a meeting afterwards or that I didn't even get time to take a photo of the pyramids without my silly smile in them.
There's no right or wrong way to travel. Or rather, it's not for me to tell you or my younger self what is the right or wrong way to travel. What I can say, however, is that being grateful for where you've been and what you've done is a lot kinder on your soul than judging what you did or didn't do in the past.
When I look at these photos now, I just think "There I was..." And in a sort of serious way, that's what keeps me warm at night.
Frances M. Thompson
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