Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Don’t Leave Before You’re Ready.


I left Koh Lanta before I was ready.

I left Sihanoukville before I was ready.

I left Vang Vieng before I was ready.

These were all enormous mistakes.

Of course, I had my reasons at the time.  I had to leave Koh Lanta because Matt had to return to America, and we wanted to meet Cody in Railay before then.  I left Sihanoukville because I needed to get back to Bangkok in time to meet Mike and Stephanie for New Year’s.

And I left Vang Vieng to join my dear friends Chris, Mona, Anthony and Jon in Luang Prabang.

(For the record, I don’t begrudge any of my friends — I adore them to the moon and back!  And even though I left my favorite destinations early, we still had a wonderful time together in Railay, Bangkok and Luang Prabang!)

Beautifully rustic Koh Lanta, grungy-fabulous party zone Sihanoukville, and Adventurous-Kate’s-idea-of-heaven-on-earth Vang Vieng were three of my favorite destinations on this trip so far.  Each of them brought me to nearly unimaginable levels of happiness.

Because I left my favorite places early, I met my subsequent destinations – Railay, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang – with a level of animosity.  No place deserves that.  I could have enjoyed each of those destinations much more if I had arrived there at the right time.

I realized my error, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

I knew Hanoi would be my next destination.  But it didn’t have to happen just yet.  So Chris and I got on a bus back to Vang Vieng.

We wore our tubing t-shirts and giggled like Peter Griffin more or less the entire six-hour ride back.  God, we were excited.  And why not?  Vang Vieng is one of the best places on the planet!

That night, we were instantly back in our element.

Chris stayed in Vang Vieng for a few more days.  I stayed for another ten.  And they were perfect.  I did exactly what I wanted to do – partied like a rock star on the river – and did so at the pace that was appropriate for me.

When the time was right – frankly, in a moment of sobriety when I thought, “I need to get out of here or I’ll stay forever” – I confidently booked a bus ticket to Hanoi from Vang Vieng.  I left the next day.

And that is how you do it.

The lesson to you?  If you’re on a long-term trip and can afford to spend extra time in places, don’t leave a place you love before you’re ready.

Leaving early will set you up for regret.  Regret is one of the ugliest emotions out there, and there’s no reason for it if you’re currently on a long-term trip.

So take your time.  Do what feels right to you.  And your memories will be all the richer for it.

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12 Responses to “Don’t Leave Before You’re Ready.”
  1. Laurence says:

    Another great post Kate 🙂 I think what I am enjoying most about your posts thus far is your honesty, recognising the things you are not enjoying, and relishing the good times you are having. Keep having fun, that’s the important thing, whatever fun happens to mean to you 😀

  2. Scott says:

    I concur on your thoughts and can admit I have left a few places before I should on my European adventures just to stick with my pre-trip plans. , Awesome that you got to “right the wrong” in VV though!

  3. Theodora says:

    So you got your visa sorted, then? I’m a big fan of slow travel, spending longer in one place, and not leaving before you’re ready…

    Glad you enjoyed more time in Vang Vieng, too…

  4. Adrian B. says:

    Wow, that was a good read and I must say I totally agree with you. Moreover, there are places I wish I never had to leave, but I guess we cannot be in more than one place at a time…

  5. andi says:

    Life is too short for regret! Agree, never leave before you’re ready.

  6. Amanda says:

    I agree with Laurence — I love the honesty in these posts, Kate. I love that you can recognize and articulate exactly how you’re feeling, whether it’s positive or not. Keep it up, girl!

  7. Annie says:

    Such great advice! Regret is an ugly thing! I’m glad that you did what you wanted and went back!

  8. Kate you are dead on here! Of course, ALMOST everywhere I go I wish I could stay longer!
    There was one time I missed an Air Asia Flight (F*ck Air Asia btw haha) and so I was basically stranded in the airport and then had a random connecting flight in a town in China called Guilin.
    It was the greatest blessing in disguise in my entire life.
    The town was beutiful and we could have stayed there until we wanted as we were taking a train 24 hours back up to Beijing. But we left in 2 days. We left! And i loved it!!
    If you arent ready to elave and can stay, stay!!!
    Words of wisdom form you right there 🙂

  9. Melanie says:

    I agree completely! We made the very expensive decision to extend our stay in Paris and I have never regretted it. When remembering my visit to Paris, I never think, “I wish I still had that $600 I spent in change fees.”

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