In a world that increasingly preaches for you to travel, to spend on experiences, quit your job, leave your 9-5 hell, I thought I could share a little perspective on what the actual experience is like.
Travelling does not make your problems go away
There are two ideas that can make you want to leave to travel for long term.
The first idea is that travelling makes everything better, simpler, by taking off to another country. You might imagine that you’d “find yourself”, but in reality you are escaping your life at home. The thought of going home scares you, when you can’t see a long term solution to a major life problem because of the “the pressures of conforming to society” and having to go back to your old ways.
These problems continue to haunt you and stick to the back of your mind like an annoying splinter. And you can’t help but feel anxious even when presented with the most beautiful views the world has to offer. I’m sorry to tell you this, but what you will find If you were unhappy with your life before you left is that you will continue to be unhappy if you don’t change your habits or start making things while you travel or after you’re home. Do what you need to before you leave so you can enjoy the journey.
The second idea is that you travel for the sake of travel, for the love of the adventure, experience, the rehabilitation of the mind and soul, regardless of the good and bad of it all (because there will be bad days). You find ways and means to sustain your lifestyle because your love exploring and do whatever it takes by starting businesses, teaching others how you can do it and sharing whatever you have learnt on-the-road with the community. You travel to create yourself, not to find yourself. You seek out like-minded individuals and tribes, so that you can connect to a wider network, pick on other people’s brains and build interesting projects wherever you go. Travel becomes more fulfilling this way because you are working on something bigger than yourself and focusing on your own needs.
I think most of us swing between the first and second idea, but it’s important to keep in mind that travel doesn’t make you problems go away.
The world is a beautiful, indifferent place
When we went star-gazing in Chile and saw the milky way with our bare-naked eyes, I realised something. Our planet is amazing, and if we taught ourselves to give more time to admire the stars at night, I think we could really start to appreciate how minute we are in the scheme of things. In everyday life we try to make ourselves seem important, wanted, needed, busy individuals, but really – the world gets on perfectly well without us. Everyone is dispensable, and that is both a good and bad thing.
Indifferent, because I also saw how poverty could rob people of their chances. So many times on my trip I kept thinking to myself, “I’m so fucking lucky to be able to do this.” There are no excuses to not pursue your dreams if you live in that percentage of the world who can afford to travel.
You don’t own anything. Nature owns everything.
We hoard things for status, for security, but in truth, mother nature owns everything. Nothing really belongs to us. In fact we belong her. In Bolivia, there is a respect for nature, and the indigenous Quechua people call her Pacha Mama . We stamp a flag on it and claim it for ours, when it’s never for us to keep. Everything is transient and we are at her mercy. The perks of travelling is that it will teach you this. That you don’t need much to survive on. That it’s important to connect with immaterial things.
There is a time for everything and each experience is different.
Travelling is like reading a book. At different stages of your life you experience it differently. At different times you seek for different outlets. For pleasure, for solace, for creativity. But I think what most people want is to feel connected with something. In our 9-5 life, we act like robots, drones, that follow the beck and call of the rat race. So disconnected. That urge to connect as a human being, be it to strangers or nature, makes us feel alive again. The best part is that a place changes according to your needs. There are different ways to experience it even if you are at the same place.
If you can’t travel, read.
Strangely, with the newfound time I seemed to have and not having to check emails 24/7, I started reading more books than I had any other year before. Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-fiction books about writing fiction books. Everything. It was beautiful and it gave me a rush that I experience whenever I saw a new sight or had a new realization while travelling. So if you can’t afford to travel. Reading does it too.