My Name is Alicia Harper and I am a Travel Addict

posted by Alicia Harper

Addiction is a scary word to most. It brings about thoughts of drugs, alcohol and many other vices that one cannot seem to quit. Unlike many, addiction is my favorite word. Instead of cigarettes or whiskey, my addiction comes in a completely different form. My name is Alicia Harper and I am a travel addict. The whole thing began on my first trip abroad to Australia, and I never looked back. My addiction is harmful to me in only one way, it leaves me wanting all travel all the time. Making travel writing my profession seemed like the only sane thing for me to do in life, so the morning Mr. Kavoori spoke about the travel writing study abroad in Janice Hume’s Magazine’s class on a groggy September morning I knew I would be on a flight to Siem Reap come May. And I was right.

Taking a trip across the world isn’t something you can fully prepare for. Sure, I packed, got my finances in order, and said goodbye to family and friends, but May 13th came as abruptly as an atomic bomb. I thought about it everyday for an entire school year, but before I knew it I was alone at Hartsfield airport with nothing but the clothes on my back to last me for the next six weeks. Sure, I’ve been abroad twice before, but that doesn’t mean I’m versed in Airport directional skills. So thankfully I had a companion in fellow study abroad classmate Peter McDonald. So Pete and I set off on our journey. On our plate was five hours to JFK airport, a four-hour layover, 14 hours to Seoul South Korea, a 15 hour layover, and finally five hours to Siem Reap Cambodia, our travel destination.

Let me get this straight, just because I have the travel bug doesn’t mean that I love airplanes, humans are meant to stay on the ground. This being said, our flight to JFK from Hartsfield was rough. I start thinking about the movie Final Destination and it all went downhill from there. The ride was unusually bumpy and everyone on the plane got up at least three times to use the restroom. Come on people, it’s a 5 hour flight, hold it. I’ll just say it was the longest flight of my life and the moment we were safe on the ground was not a second too soon. The next flight was a breeze even though it was the longest. International flights are calming and actually fun.

Most people on our flight to Seoul were Asian and did not speak English so I was plopped in a window seat next to a mother and son duo for our trip to the other side of the Earth. When I wasn’t sleeping I observed the pair. They were unusually loving and helpful to each other. The mother mixed the sons rice and vegetables for him while the son poured her tea. They had a mutual helpfulness and understanding towards each other that I had never before seen. Though I could not communicate with them, we had our moments. Everyone on the plane seemed to be asleep except for the three of us, so I decided to open the window shade and see the world around us. Our plane was flying over the North Pole at the exact time the sun was beginning to rise. It may have been the most beautiful site any of us had ever seen. We smiled to one another and gazed out at this amazing view. I’m positive it was something I’ll never forget.

This is why I am convinced that I am addicted to traveling. When could you ever have a beautiful bonding moment with complete Korean strangers about the orange sunset over a frigid ocean than during travel? It just wouldn’t happen. The rest of the plane ride went without a hitch and we landed safely in South Korea. I bid adieu to my Korean friends and began an eventful 15 hour layover with Pete. We decided to explore the city that we’d never visited, and paid $40 each to see Changdeokgung Palace, Big Temple, and the Janghanpyeong antique market in Seoul. Our fee also included a meal of authentic Korean cuisine, bin bin bop and kimichi soup. It was so delicious. We took in the sights tastes smells and sounds of Korea on a three-hour excursion that was well worth the money. My travel bug brain tells me that I will have to return to Seoul one day soon and stay a while.

Next we took an uneventful five hour flight to Siem Reap, the destination that had been awaiting our arrival. The experience of traveling across the world is both exciting and exhausting all at the same time. People say half of the experience is getting there, and this proved to be true on my very long journey from Atlanta to Siem Reap. Now begins six weeks of feeding my addiction, and seeing what Asia has to offer a Georgia girl like me.

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