“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” – Miriam Beard
Somewhere along the way, the travel bug bit me. I couldn’t tell you what city I was in when it happened, let alone what country, or when. All I know is that I went from a girl who considering travelling as those week long family vacations to Hawaii and the weekend getaways with girlfriends as travelling, to being someone who wanted to see the world, and get lost in new cities, and try and learn new things.
I was never a particularly adventurous person, and definitely not spontaneous, but my love for travelling has made me more adventurous and more spontaneous. Travelling has instilled in me a desire to try and be a better person with every single day that passes. It’s made me want to learn more about the world, and the people who live in it.
In short, travelling has changed me.
People change as we get older, that’s a given, but travelling has changed me in ways that would have never happened had I stayed home. I had plenty of life experiences back home. Watching close family members suffer with dementia and cancer. Graduating from high school, and university. Hitting my rock bottom, aka academic probation. A year off university doing something that I loved. Different jobs. Losing friends, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends. All things in life that affected who I was as a person.
Somehow, despite all of these life experiences, good or bad, happy or sad, I always felt stuck.
I will always remember my first trip abroad. A friend and I threw on our brand new backpacks, got on a plane to Europe, and backpacked around for six weeks. I was still the same person, but I felt different. “Same same but different”, a sentence I picked up in Thailand but is exactly how I would describe myself. As someone who usually ranged from a little bit anxious to very anxious, that anxiety dissipated while I was travelling. Getting lost or stuck in a massive crowd were once triggers for my anxiety. Instead, I embraced getting lost in a city (to a point), and I learned how to breathe normally and enjoy being in a crowd.
A year later, I threw on that backpack again and set off for a month abroad in Thailand. I had been reluctant to go. I felt like I should stay and do a few classes in the summer semester so I could graduate a semester early. I was convinced otherwise, and that is something I will always be grateful for because it was a trip that I will never forget. I remember a professor once saying to live your twenties fully, because when you’re older, those are the years you will look back on and remember. I will be recounting my days in Thailand for the rest of my life.
I will always be a little more paranoid, a little more cautious, and plan things a bit more than my friends. (Sidenote – they can thank me for that because otherwise we would have been sleeping in beds with bed bugs.) But their spontaneity and adventurous spirits rubbed off on me in the best way possible. In Thailand, I learned to let go, and go with the flow. I may still think before I leap, but I wasn’t making a pro/con list first anymore.
And then, I stopped travelling. I graduated, got a Monday to Friday, nine to five type job. With a new job comes low seniority and zero luck for vacation bidding. I considered it a “win” when I was finally granted three days off in a row. I wasn’t going anywhere far with three days. Eventually, I was done. I felt stuck again, doing the same thing day in, day out, when all I wanted to do was see the world.
So, I did something that the old me never would have done. Travelling had taught me to be brave, independent, spontaneous and adventurous, and I took everything travelling had taught me, and I moved halfway around the world for a new job. Now I get to see the world with my new job, and enjoy everything it has left to teach me.
“To travel is to evolve” – Pierre Bernado