At the risk of sounding cliché, a travel quote made me move to Thailand.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
While it may seem tired and overused now, the first time I read this quote it stopped me in my tracks. I had been thinking in circles for months about making a move, knowing wholeheartedly that I wanted to quit my job and move abroad but also not knowing where I would begin or when would be the ‘right’ time to go.
As I read the quote though, I thought, “That’s it.” I knew it was time to make a change and make a leap. It had been two years of dreaming up an exit plan…and I could easily envision it being another two years – four, six, eight – before I actually did anything.
It was true – thinking about looking back on my life I would be more disappointed and regret what I didn’t do rather than what I did do, regardless of the outcome.
Fast forward a decade later and I certainly don’t regret the decisions I made but I still find myself in the same thought patterns, mulling over ideas or dreams or changes and wondering if they’re the right thing without actually taking action.
Sometimes it’s about work or where to move to next or even if I should splurge on adding avocado to my order. Other times it’s deciding whether or not to make a memorable experience happen even if it may not be the most convenient thing to do.
That’s where the 90-year-old test comes in.
When I’m 90, how would I look back on this moment or experience or decision?
Will it matter to me when I’m 90 that I spent some extra money 60 years ago for a special experience? Or will it matter more that I actually experienced something great?
It’s like thinking YOLO but more mindful (and sounds way less douchey).
As I’ve gotten older (and am thankfully more financially secure than when I was making $700 a month teaching full time), I’m more mindful and more invested in trying to see the big picture and how what I do now will affect the future. I want to invest the time, money and effort to have more unique, meaningful and memorable experiences rather than pinching pennies or, alternatively, wasting money on a half-assed plan.
Especially a few years ago, I started trying to find a balance between saving for the future and enjoying the opportunities I have in the moment.
Around this time I started investing more in my home, finally giving in to buying basics like a toaster oven, better sheets and real wine glasses. Things I had wanted since I had moved to Thailand but not let myself buy in the name of saving money. I also went to France. With my mom and cousin. And stayed in a chateau in Provence for a week with some of the best people I know.
YOLO, but like, classy.
Was it the most practical trip? Nope. Was it 100% worth it? Absolutely. (Although I still couldn’t pull myself away from my computer and clients or actually take a full week off of work. That’s what I, and my future self, really regret.)
Every element of the experience was carefully planned out. The setting was perfect and the food was exactly what you would dream of when thinking about eating in Provence.
We were with a group of about 12 others and while we were all incredibly different – there was a 1-year-old and a 60-year-old, young newlyweds who had never spent nearly as much on a trip and older newlyweds who had more money than probably all of us put together – we were all there for the same reasons.
To experience something special that we couldn’t pull off on our own. To take the time to invest in our own happiness, growth and inspiration.
And to have fun in a bomb place.
Definitely a trip to make everyone’s 90-year-old selves proud and have a good story to share at dinner parties for decades to come.
Fast forward, and now I’m helping the beautiful minds behind Provence create the same, same but different special experience in Chiang Mai.
This November, we’re hosting a special group in some of the most incredible 100-year-old villas I’ve ever seen. Everyone gets their own sweet Thai house, we’ll share some of the best food you’ll ever eat in your life, and discover the incredible mix of local day-to-day and luxe surprises that Chiang Mai does so well, like wandering through the hectic fresh market then dining under the stars on a meal made by a private chef.
We’ll go out to explore a hidden forest temple or village where we know the local monks or villagers and then come back to drink poolside Singhas with ice.
We’ve got plenty of surprises up our sleeves and would love for you to join us.
Find all the details for the Moveable Feast Retreat in Chiang Mai here. Spaces are already filling up, so make your 90-year-old self proud then book your spot!
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
Enter your email for a taste of different worlds, must-read posts, and special offers.
(Don't worry, I'll never spam you — just send the good stuff.)