There I was, trekking through the dark and confined dirt tunnel, starting to question why I voluntarily put myself in this situation. But as I continued on, the tunnel opened up, and I found myself in an authentic tomb – inside of an Egyptian pyramid! This experience solidified why I will forever be a YES traveler.
Since I was a teeny bit dramatic in that intro, let me rewind a bit and give you the full story. It was my first year as an NFL cheerleader and I was one of 12 lucky ladies to be selected for a Mediterranean American Armed Forces tour. For those who don’t know, traveling to military bases is something that cheerleaders from many professional sports teams do in efforts to help boost our troops (and their families) morale while deployed. It is really cool for us because not only do we get to honor those who serve our country, but we also get to travel the world at the same time! On this particular month-long tour we got to travel to various cities in six different countries with Egypt being our first stop. During one of our free days we were able to see the Pyramids of Giza, which had me completely thrilled! I had no idea that I would be given the opportunity to actually see the inside of one until we were already on our way and the tour guide told us we could; however, in the same sentence that initially excited me, he nearly scared me away from even thinking about venturing in.
You see, before this experience, while I may have visited other countries, I never let myself be immersed in the full experience. For example, I may have gone to a local restaurant, but if French-fries and fruit were on the menu (or anything that I recognized for that matter), that was my chosen meal. Noodles with eyeballs in Japan? No no, I all too loudly turned that meal down and ate cherries and pocky sticks for dinner. So when our tour guide described the unpleasant experience awaiting those who wanted to venture inside the pyramid, my mind started shutting down, as did my peers. In fact, out of twelve cheerleaders, only one other person was even considering making the trip. If it hadn’t been for my friend, Sarrah – who is still my travel partner to this day because of this trip, I would have missed out on a seriously great, once in a lifetime opportunity. She showed me how to be a yes traveler, and I haven’t looked back since.
I thought to myself, “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?”
Our hike through the extremely close quartered, dank, smelly and unbelievably hot tunnel was something you cannot even imagine. The conglomerate of unfavorable scents paired with the thick, muggy air and no airflow seriously had me screaming “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING” in my head. I’m not going to lie to you – it might not be that bad for some, but for me, a semi-claustrophobic person who is stomach-sensitive to a multitude of smells and who is also a devout germophobe…well, I’ll just say that the whole thing gave me a serious mental workout. As my mind was tiring out, all I could think about was getting out of there ASAP, but I was already too far in to bail. Additionally, I didn’t want the only other person who went in with me to think I was a total wuss, so I kept pushing forward, and eventually the room opened up! While the airflow was still nonexistent, I at least was able to stand up again after being forced to walk the tunnel in a stooped position. It was so cool being inside an actual Egyptian tomb – inside history! Sarrah and I loved every moment of it. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to snap photographs inside, but the memories she and I made in there were invaluable. I mean, what were those other ten ladies doing on the outside of the pyramid? They were sitting on a bus, waiting for us while we were busy dancing in a sarcophagus of a freaking Egyptian tomb! (Side Note: I do not condone this and have learned since this experience that while this was wildly fun, it was also totally inappropriate). After we got our fill, we made the trek back down through that same tunnel. Even though I still had to prepare myself mentally, the hike back down didn’t seem as horrible or long – probably because I was on cloud nine from crossing off unlisted bucket list items. When I came back out of the pyramid tunnel, at that very moment, I was a new person. I was a ‘YES’ traveler. The fresh air rushed to my brain and I felt like I was ready to try anything and everything. Becoming a ‘Yes’ traveler has since shaped every single travel experience of mine since this trip.
On this very same tour, I can remember eating AMAZING food from various different countries with my traveling buddy while most of the others ate…well for the most part salads and fruit. I still can’t believe that I used to travel that way – limiting myself to only experience what I was already familiar with. Now as I venture out more and more, I try to be open to the various possibilities of travel. I find myself being up for almost anything. In fact, now when I vacation, I purposely plan days with nothing on the schedule so that I can be ready when Tom Cruise invites me on his boat or when a Sultan has us over for dinner at his palace. I’m just saying – anything can happen, and I want to be ready to say “YES!” when it does! This type of outlook has lead to multiple once in a lifetime opportunities and provided me with some of the most fun and cultured experiences, including a really fun, Italian inspired night on my latest trip to Italy.
Life provides us with so many different opportunities, even outside of just traveling. Allowing ourselves to be open to the world of possibility makes us well rounded, well versed and stronger people. I personally believe that it increases our understanding and our passion for others and honestly, our world could use heaping ton of that right now.
So, I charge you with the task of opening up your experiences and making yourself a ‘Yes’ person. Co-workers want to go out for an Ethiopian cuisine? Say Yes. Significant other wants to take you to a third world country verses a beach vacation for once? Say Yes. Someone has offered you tickets to a sporting event, and you’re not that into sports? SAY YES! Call it FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) if you want, but you never know what opportunities, cool experiences and lasting friendships will be afforded to you if only you would – just. Say. YES!