From Leisure and Luxury to Backpacks and Baht

Most have travelled.  Some near, some far but almost everyone has ventured out at one time or another and everyone has their own style of travelling. I have been lucky enough to visit quite a few foreign destinations. Being from northern Canada, every destination that I’ve been to has been a hot, tropical paradise—who loves shoveling snow, minus 40-degree Celsius weather and winter tires? Forget it! Take me to the beach! I swam with dolphins in Los Cabos, snorkeled with beautiful fish in the Mayan Riviera, climbed a volcano in Maui and cliff jumped in Cancun!

Now, this all may sound quite adventurous and hardcore, but at the end of each day, when the adrenaline stopped coursing through my veins, I went back to my luxurious five-star, all-inclusive resort, changed into a fluffy hotel robe and ordered a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio. Isn’t that the way everyone travels?

When I found out I was going to be a host in Thailand for Tan Your Mind 2 Thailand, I was ecstatic. But hang on just a minute… they mentioned something about a backpack? As in, no extra bags? They also mentioned hiking shoes, which means trekking, possibly in water and maybe even uphill?

Alright. Deep breaths.

While Thailand is known for five-star luxury resorts as much as Mexico (and they are oh-so-affordable, I’m told), that’s not what we’re doing for Tan Your Mind. But I can work with that, I figured. I’m a redneck girl from a small town in northern British Columbia. I do outdoor things—at least I used to. I don’t usually use a hair dryer anyway, and instead of my giant hair straightener, I’ll take my mini one.

See? Crisis averted.

Who needs a big bottle of purple salon-quality shampoo to keep their hair platinum blonde? Not this girl! Actually, that is a complete lie. I do need it… badly… but I am turning over a new leaf! I am a backpacker now. I have high-quality hiking sandals from Chaco, not $10 flip-flops from the nearest department store. I have a real Osprey backpack with hidden compartments and waist straps! Welcome to the big leagues, ladies and gentlemen. No more fluffy nightwear and cucumber eye patches for me! I am a new woman ready to take on the Land of Smiles and whatever it has in store!

That said, here I sit, surrounded not by my usual suitcase full of heels, bikinis and hair products but rather, in a sea of diarrhea tablets, stomach medication and malaria pills. Here’s hoping I don’t need to use any of these things! Not to mention the four bottles of bug repellent I plan on bathing in once we’ve arrived.

A new adventure, a new continent and a new way of travel. I can already taste the spicy pad Thai, feel the scorching sun on my back and smell the street vendors’ delicious creations. I am counting the seconds until the plane touches down in Thailand. I think the first thing I’ll do is put on my oversized hotel robe—er, I mean hiking gear—and go exploring… of course that is, after a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio.

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