Lost Girl of the Week: Kate McCulley

Lost Girl of the Week — By on November 17, 2010 at 6:00 am

This week’s LG of the Week, Kate McCulley, got the travel bug at the age of 16, and it began an obsession. But she quickly learned how easily her travel dreams could be pushed aside when life gets in the way. But when things started to crumble, it gave her the motivation she needed to get her dreams back to the front burner.

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My name is Kate McCulley and I’ve been pickpocketed.  I’ve been mugged.  I’ve fallen in love, only to have my heart smashed into a million pieces.  Would I trade these experiences for anything in the world?  Absolutely not – because I am a traveler, and these are threads in the fabric of the unconventional life I’ve built for myself.

I am a lifelong francophile, a geography nut, an entertainer who lives to make her friends laugh.  But my love for travel kicked in big-time after a homestay with a family in France at age sixteen.  It grew into a semester in Florence, Italy, and a love for and obsession with all things European.  From that point, I made travel my highest priority, hopping on a plane to a new destination as often as I could.

I’ve flung myself around, inhibition-free, at a sweaty percussion show in Buenos Aires.  I’ve made out on the banks of the Arno in Florence.  I’ve been offered cocaine in Cancun, to which I responded by running away screaming.

Now, I’m on the biggest adventure of my life – a seven-month journey through Southeast Asia.  But getting to this point was quite a journey in itself.

Since graduating college, I dreamed of a yearlong solo trip around the world.  And I don’t know what happened.  Suddenly I was a 25-year-old search engine marketer living in Boston, blowing my cash on trips to Las Vegas, and pushing the RTW trip back further and further.

How did this become my life?  What happened to the college girl who yearned to join the Peace Corps, the teenager hobnobbing with French exchange students, the eight-year-old obsessed with Carmen Sandiego?  My life’s joy had disappeared, and I was miserable.

It took a rough month to kick me into gear.  I lost my job.  I lost a lucrative freelance writing gig.  My long-term relationship ended.  And let’s just say that a major Massachusetts election did not turn out in my favor.

With no further ties to Boston, I planned to start fresh in New York City.  But something wasn’t right.  And then it hit me: as excited as I was to move to New York, it wasn’t my dream.  My dream was to travel the world alone.  So I decided to go for it.

I banked most of my paychecks, took on endless freelance work, and spent every spare moment on my labor of love: my travel site, AdventurousKate.com.  And when the time was right, I happily booked a ticket to Bangkok and said sayonara to my job.

Since then, Thailand has been a blur of fantastic street food and wild dance clubs, of motorbiking through jungle-covered mountains and waterfalls, of markets and massages and tuk-tuk rides.  The fact that I worked so hard in order to do this for seven months makes it so much sweeter.

Travel, from the piazzas of Italy to the mountains of Thailand to the bright lights of Las Vegas, has given me an indescribable happiness that radiates through my core.  There is no doubt whatsoever that I’m doing what I was meant to do.  And I know one thing: I want this to continue forever.

I’ll be returning to Boston in May, but not for long.  While I’ll always be a proud Bostonian, my time there is finished.  I plan to work abroad, continue writing, and live all over the world.

The next adventure?  I have no idea.  For the first time in my life, the future has no certainty.  And that’s not a cause for panic – that’s something to celebrate!

Travel can lead to the unconventional life that I crave.

The most important thing travel has taught me:

  • Life doesn’t have to be ordinary.
  • The life plan
  • Not only is it possible, it’s easier than you may think.
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