The first day of the month. The start of something new. Another beginning. Another…pay cheque! It’s an exciting day for a number of reasons, but getting paid means I can look at a map, pick a country and take flight. Well, sort of.
It’s that feeling of freedom and uncertainty that I love: booking a flight, without knowing where to stay or what to do. I’ll never forget the first time I stepped off the plane alone, in Cape Town, to the sudden panic of “SH*T! WHAT HAVE I DONE!”. It’s easy to confuse fear with excitement, but for those few minutes, I was definitely pooing my pants.
Travelling solo isn’t for everyone, but when you do, you can indulge in the culture, interact with the locals and meet and make friends along the way. You are utterly free and able to loose yourself in a city where turning right could be very wrong but either way, it’s one hell of an adventure.
Often the beauty of travel is that it doesn’t always go exactly to plan, as I found out this weekend. I took the train to my Airbnb and arrived in what my Uber driver described as, ‘a pretty sketchy neighbourhood’. I set aside my preconceptions and made my way to the street where I was greeted by an empty, neglected house. Window panes were missing and the creeky back door was swaying back and forth. I approached the fence with caution before out leapt an angry, barking dog. I was pooing my pants once again! To cut a long story short, I jumped in an Uber and returned to the city. It was now 8pm. Jet-lagged, wondering the streets of Chicago I realised I had left my luggage in the Uber…! Luckily the driver was super friendly and bought it straight back. This crazy situation definitely hasn’t dissuaded me from Airbnb though, my other experiences have been great and I guess you get what you pay for…I’ll just do a bit more research!
But it’s experiences like these that make stories and memories. That mad, adrenaline packed evening made the whole trip ten times more fun and I realised: how you respond to situations in life essentially determines the outcome. Life throws a heck of alot at us and while there will be times when a positive outlook can’t help, the majority of the time it does. I’ve learnt we can choose to react positively to life situations.
It was important to remember this the following afternoon, when I was caught in torrential rain and a tornado warning about 40 minutes from where I was staying. We all took cover in a children’s play centre until the sirens stopped and the warning passed. The rain however, definitely wasn’t fading so I sheepishly put on my rucksack. It was going to be a long run to the hotel, the rain flooding down in full force.
I looked like a mad man racing across the streets, through the puddles, taking cover where I could. This was a great time to people watch, so I took refuge in Wholefoods while I emptied my shoes of water. It took a few minutes before I realised I was being followed by a man with a mop… so it was probably time to leave.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I raced towards the hotel. It was a totally surreal experience, everyone sharing umbrellas and shelter where they could. I haven’t enjoyed rain so much before and fortunately my Mission Workshop rucksack proved to be both water and tornado resistant.
Besides near natural disasters, I had a crazy day shooting Instagrams with Ando (GoodVybesDaily). Thanks a lot for showing me around and risking your camera’s life shooting in the rain! I’m super excited to see you in London in a couple of months! And finally, backstage watching Jeremy Loops was such an awesome way to spend my penultimate night in town. These guys are absolute legends.
Chicago: You’ve been one heck of an adventure, with a crazy vibe. I would urge anyone to check out this city! But it’s also taught me it’s not where you go that matters. What makes a difference is the attitude you take and your openness to adventure.
For more pictures check out my Instagram: dancartertc
Next stop: Marseille, France