The Adventure Tax

So there we were...


My fingernails digging into Jonathan's arm-flesh as our pink taxi barreled down winding mountain roads. Though the setting sun cast a breath-taking magenta glow against the lush landscape, I was pretty sure that was not what our driver was yelling about (in Thai, of course). We'd been driving around for the past three hours...after a boat ride, a missed train, a shame-inducing run-in with a security guard, an air-condition-less train ride and an inexplicably dying/burning phone (thanks a lot Motorola). We were sweaty and tired, about 5,000 THB down and just about ready to give up. 

"Nevermind, nevermind" we told the taxi driver repeatedly in a terribly confusing mix of Thai and English. "Take back, take back." After we reluctantly agreed via gestures that we'd pay him double our agreed-upon price, we finally headed back down the mountain. We'd called about 20 hotels and hostels in town (toggling between our dying phones) and finally found one with vacancy. After playing two hours of my least favorite game, I-don't-speak-your-language-but-I'm-the one-with-Google-Maps-right-now-so-shut-up-and-go-left-before-you-get-us-lost-again, we made it to our accommodation for the night. Upon arrival, the sweet caretaker insisted we relax in our dark, stuffy room while she fiddled with the breaker for about 30 minutes. Eventually, we had lights, a fan, a warm shower and cold drinking water. There was even a little restaurant across the street which was still open. We ate the best masaman curry in existence next to the River Kwai. 

Recommendation: Apple Resort and Guesthouse in Kanchanaburi.

About five hours prior, we'd decided to try and be adventurous. Not having arranged our accommodation in advance, we'd booked a jungle bungalow on Airbnb on a whim on the way to Kanchanaburi. "If other people we know can have a fun adventure last minute, so can we." We didn't account for the possibility (nay-likelihood) that our host and taxi driver wouldn't speak English (not that we believe they should, btw...we are, after all, in their country). We didn't account for failing technology and we didn't have the tools to carry our last minute plans to fruition. In the process of adventuring, we spent triple what we'd budgeted, "lost" a day unexpectedly to travel, and set ourselves up for what ended up being a magical but exhausting weekend. We paid the adventure tax.

Adventure tax is the compromise you make when you're trying something new and everything doesn't go 150% perfectly...and let's be real...that's like 99.9% of the time. The tax can be anything-discomfort, loss of money, challenge of mental or spiritual stamina, health risk, a change in peer group, etc. Fear of the adventure tax is why people choose all-inclusive resorts over cultural experiences. It's why we only go on one type of vacation or don't vacation at all. We go to the same restaurants and the same stores. We hang out with only the same group of people. It's because we know when we try something new, SOMETHING will go "wrong." BUT-what if we changed "wrong" to "not as planned." Not as scary, right?

The difference between reluctant people and reluctant adventurers is just that adventurers are willing to pay the adventure tax. We acknowledge and honor that while change can be difficult and uncomfortable, the cumulative effect of choosing to grow rather than becoming comfortably stagnant yields a more fulfilling life overall. Don't get me wrong, if you love and value a bubble-life, go on and do ya' thang. BUT, if you're feeling a little itchy in the go-and-do, pay that adventure tax and adventure...even if you do it reluctantly.

Hearts and stuff,