A Dose of Paradise by Lauren Toth

The day I booked my first FnEZ trip, I could never have imagined how much that single decision would end up changing my life.  It was the summer of 2015 and I was at a point in life where I needed a major life change, so I decided I wanted to travel the world and get some perspective.  The only setback was that I’d never done it before and I had no idea where to start.  So after a little research and lot of social media lurking, I found Free & Easy Traveler and decided on the 20-day Southern Thai trip, “A Dose Of Paradise” – And a dose of paradise it was…

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When I arrived to the airport in Bangkok and was greeted with a friendly smile and a big hug by my leader, I instantly felt comfortable and knew that I was in good hands.  He showed us to our private mini-van which took us to our first destination in The Land of Smiles, and the adventure of a lifetime began.

The following 20 days were full of sunshine and unforgettable memories with new life-long friends.  We experienced booze cruises, lazy beach days, wild full-moon parties, rewarding hikes, went rock climbing up natural limestone cliffs overlooking the sea, and so much more.  In just 20 days, I had experienced more with my new friends than I had with most people that I had known for my whole life!  That’s why travel friends often have the strongest connections – sharing amazing moments while being our organic selves on some of the best days of our lives.  These memories and people stay safe in our hearts forever and nobody can take them away from us.  The only problem is that they always have to come to an end…

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Suddenly after all the excitement, we were on the night train heading back to Bangkok.  It came way too soon and I was not ready to go home.  So after lots of consideration and changing my mind back and forth, I ended up switching my flight at the last minute and it was official – I was addicted.  With a sparkle in my eye and a new-found confidence, I said goodbye to my leaders and set off with 3 new friends from my group to explore some neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia and experience some major self-discovery.  I was about to step even further outside of my comfort zone… and it was exhilarating.

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Since then, I’ve visited 8 new countries in just two years, and just recently moved across the world to teach English in Thailand.  I’m a stronger, more confident person with new priorities and an excitement for life.  I went from being lost in life to feeling a strong sense of purpose.  I went from living to please others, to living life on my own terms.

Traveling is so much more than just drinking on the beach and basking in the sun.  It’s about learning, growing, and experiencing life to the fullest.  It’s the butterflies you get in your stomach when you discover something new, the delicious and mysterious foods you eat, the heart-warming people you meet, and even the heart-breaking things you see.  All of these things shape you into a new person, and you’ll never go back to the old you.  So take the plunge, step outside your comfort zone, and let FnEZ show you the way like they did for me – you’ll never regret it!

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