My first trip to India completely transformed the way I saw the world. I’d already spent a fair bit of time traveling abroad by the time I first set foot on Indian soil, but except for a trip to Egypt and a night of drinking in Tijuana, I had very little experience with the developing world. I’m also a very impatient person; I talk fast, walk fast, and am most comfortable when things happen with speed and efficiency. However, in India things happen when they happen, and time and time again people would tell me to “just chill.” Circumstances consistently forced me to relax and go with the flow much more than I ever thought possible.Circumstances consistently forced me to relax and go with the flow much more than I ever thought possible.During this first trip, I rode in the non-air-conditioned section of an overnight train from Varanasi to Jaipur. The already long train ride ended up being delayed by an additional 20 hours. Had this happened in the West, people would have been furious or demanded alternative transportation. While there was certainly a fair bit of annoyance on the part of my fellow passengers, people were accepting of the change of fate and took the time to catch up on sleep, read or socialize. This experience, and the many seemingly frustrating experiences that would follow, taught me that patience, acceptance and a general ability to roll with the punches can make difficult situations easier to deal with.
My family played a major role in turning me into a serial traveler. My father is British, and I spent much of my childhood going back and forth between the US and the UK. Long-haul flights on the now-defunct Pan Am feature heavily in my early childhood memories, and my transatlantic youth provided great training for a lifetime of globetrotting. At an early age, my mother taught me how to live out of a carry-on, how to minimize jet lag, and how to communicate with people with whom I didn’t share a common language. It’s to my parents that I owe my curiosity about the rest of the world, and it was they who instilled in me the confidence to go out and explore this incredible planet of ours.