Are you ever asked: why do you travel? To Travel is to Live – Hans Christian Andersen
Have you noticed that when you let anyone in on your secret that you’re taking off again for a while, a barrage of endless questions flow through effortlessly?
How long are you gone for this time? When are you back? Don’t you miss home? How can you stay away for so long? And so, it goes on…
I haven’t quite understood if this Spanish inquisition is a guilt trip for leaving behind loved ones, or whether it is just intrigue around why ‘on earth you would want to leave home?’
And yes, earth is the reason…
It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville
Sometimes growing up in a small semi-rural town can feel as if you’re lost to a world that’s far larger and greater than your own.
But continual exposure to the BBC, ABC, 4Corners, et al, and sitting through several News’ editions each evening, has to expand your mind and influence you in some way, right?
And this exposure has to show you that there is so much more out there to explore than the town in which you feel secure and grew up in. This made me think how insignificant we are to what’s really out there…
This global exposure opened a larger world than the one in which I knew and lived. Not happy just to watch this world on TV or read about life experiences in books, I had to see it for myself.
I made my mind up at an early age.
Maybe another influence whilst growing up was being absorbed in the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s brilliant Dark Side of the Moon. Especially with the song Time, which planted another level of anxiousness that turned into wanderlust. This nagging feeling could not be shifted – even today.
Leave Time running in the background whilst you read my blog.
And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
David Gilmour and Richard Wright’s most pertinent lines above from Time, still resonate…
In the old days
Back then, there was no FOMO (fear of missing out) label that graces our lives today.
Actually back then, there was no social media. Surprisingly, we still survived. I’m starting to sound like a dinosaur…but don’t write me off just yet!
I didn’t feel as if I was missing out, but just hungry to see everything I could during my lifetime. As let’s face it, none of us know our path in life, or how long we have.
A lingering urge to experience life to the full? Maybe. Coupled with a silently creeping desire to explore.
The number of times I listened to elderly (and not-so-elderly) lamenting on what they wished they would have seen during their life: but now it is too late.
To sit and do nothing is just like stagnating, rotting, wasting valuable time – almost as if you’re waiting for death to arrive.
A tad melodramatic? Perhaps.
But it sure is an impetus to get off the couch, leave your safe surrounds, plunge into travel, the unfamiliar, and then some.
If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal – Paul Coelho
Work to travel
With a magnetic pull to see the world, I decided that I would work hard to travel hard, so I saved hard. A couple of years’ later and finally, I saved enough money to leave Australia and travel for 12 months. It takes a while when you live away from home and have to pay for all of your own bills.
Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul – Jamie Lyn Beatty
Not sure why I gave myself 12 months, but this sounded like a good start, unless the money ran out sooner, or I just didn’t like travelling – it happens.
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving – Lao Tzu
With my 12-month around-the-world ticket booked, I now had to break the news to my parents.
Returning to my sleepy semi-rural town to let my parents know of my good news and that Africa would be the first country of landing, was greeted with disbelief, and a barrage of concerning questions.
Their 22-year old daughter would be solo-travelling the world. Not assisted. Without friends or relatives to help. Dangerous times in Africa at the height of AIDS, especially for a lone white female.
No internet. No social media. No mobile phones. Only landline phones with prohibitively expensive reverse charges, when desperate. Only snail mail. Think about that for a bit…
Not as easy as solo-travelling these days, where every scrap of information is at your fingertips within seconds.
I could understand the concern and of course, my parents tried to talk me out of going.
But adamant I had to travel, I argued that I did not want to be on my death bed regretting that I’d never been to a country, shared an experience, or to just feel alive. They still thought I was mad!
Was this to be my path in life for a while? Or forever? Who knows, but I was pretty excited.
Another person I had to say goodbye to was my partner of 18 months. Not once was I stopped from going and he understood that I had to do this – as selfish as this sounds, saying goodbye, was hard.
Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret – Oscar Wilde
The 12-month drug
I had no idea that I would thrive on travelling as much as I did and that it would become my drug of choice, for life.
You just never know.
Not knowing whether I would last one week, one month, let alone 12 months, I could have stayed out much longer, but that story is best saved for another chapter…
Live your life by a compass not a clock – Stephen Covey
I went where I wanted, when I wanted, and the 12 months was nothing short of incredible!
Of course there were times when I wondered what the hell I was doing on my own whilst hitching in north Scotland’s isolation, or getting lost with a storm brewing on the sparse hills of the desolate Orkney Islands. And then there was hitching around South Africa for a few weeks – just two Australian females and a few dubious rides.
The things we do when we travel are things and situations that we would never dream of doing at home. Risks we would never take.
With the seed firmly planted, the drug now was an addiction.
Well, still travelling after 30+ years whether on short or extended trips. The lust has never dissolved.
The only time I stop travelling is to return to work to earn more money, to then take off again.
Let’s face it, with only 60+ countries over 6 continents visited, I still have many more countries to explore…and only a lifetime to do it all in.
Not all those who wander are lost – J.R.R. Tolkien
You may be thinking travel is not for you and that I’m crazy giving up stability and a well-paying career for uncertainty, potential danger, and the unknown. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s your life, live it as you feel best.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign – Robert Louis Stevenson
All I say is that if you’re not happy with your life, then why not try a little travel?
You can always return home. But you never know, it may become your choice of life.
So, why do I travel?
Just a few reasons, in no particular order…
- Be free
- Experience life
- Be inspired
- Teaches gut instinct
- Adrenaline rush
- Not to conform to what society dictates
- Absorb disparate cultures
- Connect with people, bond with strangers and become long-life friends
- Makes me stronger
- Push my own mental and physical boundaries
- Emotional gratification
- Awe-inspiring experiences
- To respect the world in which we all live and to not take anything for granted
- Hold a head full of exquisite memories with no regrets
- Exotic and amazing cuisines
Why do you travel?
Now this is your turn to tell me: why do you travel? What made you take that first step? Do you travel short-term or long-term?
I’m eager to hear your thoughts and start a travel discussion…