Why do we travel? To escape day to day life? To experience something new? To see the world? Yes, yes and yes. However, it does have it’s ups and downs, like anything!
I have to admit there are way more pros! Traveling doesn’t just provide us with situations we wouldn’t normally be in but sets us up for the most amazing adventure and life altering experiences. It’s ultimate freedom. You can really learn what you are capable of, how spontaneous you can be, how to be outside your comfort zone.
It isn’t like taking a holiday, where you go away somewhere for 2 weeks and sit by the pool or are pressured into seeing everything possible in that short time. You really have the chance to unwind. You are not bound to an imminent flight home. (Booking a one way plane ticket is the best feeling, ever!).
Which leads onto the first con, missing home. Yup, it doesn’t feel good to miss home. Which is why it’s important to bring a couple of things in your backpack to comfort you (for me it’s a necklace and my best friends jumper) and these days Skype/ Facetime is a blessing. I would of probably returned home long ago without it. Having said that, it does get easier! I would have random emotional outbursts when I saw a daughter hug her Dad or something as stupid as seeing a Marmite jar!! For me though, I think after the first few months it got a lot easier, you realize what you are experiencing and if you are lucky to have a solid support system like me, they just give you the nudge you need sometimes!
When you decide you want to take a gap year, go traveling for a few months or travel full time you are one step closer to changing your life. So profound haha! Joking aside you will feel uneasy at times. You might start doubting whether you can actually do it. The world is a scary place, true. But, there are precautions you can take to ensure your safety. If you are traveling alone you have to always be a little more aware, especially as a female. Like I said before you will learn more and more about what you are capable of. You will see yourself pushing through these boundaries and swating away doubts.
At first you will probably want to plan your trip down to scheduled toilet breaks but you will have to learn quickly to relinquish control, and just enjoy the ride! In my experience the more laid back and easygoing I am, the better experiences I end up having. Like I missed the bus from my shack in Cambodia I was meant to get at 6am and ended up being given a pass to a concert because the girl who lived next door couldn’t go, we ended up being great friends, even to this day. If I had gone, we would of never met. Another time I was on a bus from Vietnam to Laos and I realized I had forgotten my camera, (my most treasured possession at the time) so I traveled 12 hours back to go and get it and I ended up bumping into a friend I had met years before and we traveled together for 2 months! The point is, you’ll need to let go!
Someone I met once told me “The world keeps spinning with or without you, it will rain, there will be thunderstorms, so you may as well relax and soak it all in.” I didn’t understand this for a long time but now I realize it just means things will go wrong along the way but it’s up to us to seize every opportunity, problem solve when possible and not take life too seriously.
One of the best reasons for travel is the people that you will meet, and the friends you will make – for life! You will probably think no one will or could ever replace your friends at home, and you’re right. But, you will find out who your real friends are. I only keep in contact with 2 friends at home. This isn’t meant to scare you or make you think you will loose all your friends, that won’t happen. I have been away for 7 years and I only visit home every now and then. When you do come home though, that’s when you will see change in yourself. Friends you once thought were everything and very alike to you, now seem so far from the person you are now. The flip side is, the amount of fascinating people you will meet along the way. Some incredibly inspiring, some weird, some fun, some will only be in your life for an hour some will stick forever! Eventually you’ll see you have friends in almost every country in the world – pretty cool!
Sometimes the worst part of traveling can be the actual traveling bit. Long wait times, queues, sitting on a mini bus for 8 hours cramped with 30 people, 4 boxes with live chickens, a goat and 12 kids sat on the roof (yes, that happened!). Having said that, it’s not always the destination that gives you the best stories, sometime it’s the journey!
Another tricky part of being on foreign lands is the local cuisine. Most people enjoy their home cooked food from their respective country and possibly don’t often indulge in anything too ‘exotic’. From my experience some people are quite outgoing but quite a few like plain food or stick to what they know. Unless you want to eat at maccas everyday, you need to bite the bullet and let yourself experiment! It is a huge part of experiencing what the world has to offer and I wouldn’t be lying if I said you’d be missing out! (It’ll also make those roast dinners your Dad makes, or the stew your grandma stews (?), all the more special when you go/ visit home!)
You’ll see on inspo pages or insta, girls looking flawless, perfectly positioned on a beach or rock cliff facing into the distance. This isn’t reality. This should inspire you to take beautiful pictures and to see amazing places but know to travel can be ugly, sweaty, messy. Insta in particular sometimes paints an unrealistic image of travel (in my opinion). Be prepared for all sorts, not just the glamorous side. That’s not to say you can’t splurge, especially if you have the dough! For us slightly more on the budget trail though, it isn’t always this way. You can’t project the feeling you get from seeing a little girl from a tribe gasping at your blonde hair running toward you with pure joy and interest or watching a sunset in Fiji go from orange to pink to purple in a picture. You have to live it.
For me, I had no idea what to do with my life, and to be honest I still don’t really. The only thing i’m ever sure about is travel. Your 20’s are hard, trying to find out who you are, what your purpose is, trying to blend in but also stand out. It’s overwhelming and sometimes frustrating but by doing this you will be closer to what you can be. I will always encourage people to go and travel. It doesn’t matter what age you are, how long you go for or what journey you take. If you have the opportunity and means to go, do it.
It’ll be worth it, I promise.