The Dirty Secret About Travel

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It doesn’t come up often in the perfect Instagram shots, the #livelaughlove tags, the cutesy captions. Even when I’m talking to friends back home in person, recounting my trips, I hardly ever bring it up. It sounds too much like a humblebrag, a lucky person problem. It is. I get that.

But anyone who’s traveled often or for long stretches of time probably knows what I’m talking about.

Every new place you visit expands you. (We love to talk about that.) You stretch to contain these new experiences: music like you’ve never heard it, foods you’ve never dreamt of combining, fruits and spices you’ve never seen before. You fall in love with mysterious overgrown ruins, with a khao soi just the way one hole-in-the-wall makes it, with twisting medieval alleys, with white sand beaches that look like something from a catalogue.

Not to mention the people. Locals who welcome you with open arms, become new best friends. Travel companions you meet along the road, join forces with, look after for...