When you hear people say “I quit my job to go traveling”, people often have this distorted vision of a glamorous lifestyle of travel and adventure. You know, the kind where you stay in really nice places and eat the best food. However, most of the time, traveling isn’t as glamorous as what others make it to be. In Europe I was so poor, that most of my meals consisted of cheese and bread from a local grocery store, accompanied by a bottle of €1 wine. Not that I was complaining, after all, I was in Europe. However, after being on the road for almost three years non stop, whenever we hear people blurt out the words, “I want to go traveling” we know that it often just isn’t for everyone.
Traveling can be Uncomfortable
Traveling is the ultimate test to someone’s character. When you are hungry, cold, dripping wet from the rain, trudging along carrying your backpack while trying to find your hostel, you tend to rethink your choices. When you’re cramped in a crappy hostel room, sharing one bathroom between 10 people, you start to miss the comforts of home.
Traveling isn’t for everyone. It takes a special kind of person who can cope with sleeping in the same room with strangers who snore like a steamroller/ grizzly bear (true story) and still manage to chuckle a smile in the morning. I have met some people who called themselves “avid travelers”, yet complained about everything every chance they got. They complained about inefficiency, about discomfort, and more importantly, about how things were so different compared to where they are from. But, isn’t that the whole point of getting away? To experience ways of life, practices, and culture that are different from ours.
Traveling Forces You to Go Out of Your Comfort Zone
Traveling isn’t always easy. Everyday, you are faced with situations where you have to do things that you are not used to. It is going out of your comfort zone and facing your fears. Whether its a fear of heights or even just a fear of eating a meal all alone. Traveling takes an open mind and to be honest, a strong stomach. But to those selected few who are willing, those who are brave enough to take the first step, you are in for the ride of your life. For me, traveling was all about broadening my horizons. I challenged myself to do something new every day, and whether it was jumping off a cliff, or rappelling down an 18m waterfall, or merely approaching a group of strangers to make friends, I constantly found myself going out of my comfort zone.
Often, we live our lives too scared to go past the things that we are used to. We sit on the fence and stay within our limits. Let me tell you something, life is too short to live within the limits that you set for yourself. Constantly challenge yourself to be tougher, smarter..be a badass and live your life to your full potential. Even the great Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing that scares you every day.”
Traveling Changes You
Change is the one thing that is constant in life, but when you are traveling, this is even more evident. People come and go, you are constantly moving, and you are constantly adapting to different situations. To those that are afraid of change, maybe traveling isn’t for you. Because of traveling, I learned how to be street smart (unfortunately, my sense of direction never got better), I learned how to be independent, and more importantly, I learned how to open myself to people. I have met so many amazing people during my travels. Whether it was a random person I met on a bus, or a girl I walked in the rain with in Italy just to eat more gelato, I found myself meeting people from all walks of life. Students, a nurse, a carpenter, and even a 70 year old man who decided it was time to see the world. All these people I would have never been able to cross paths with unless I took that initial leap.
If you let it, traveling can change your life. Suddenly, a huge door of possibilities, cultures, new places, and people open up before you. You then realize that yes, the world is in fact huge! Even though I consider myself well traveled, I know that there is a lot more that I haven’t seen. Traveling has changed me in so many ways because now, suddenly, I realized how little I am compared to the bigger picture. Why does it matter that I can’t find anything new to wear when half way around the world, some people don’t even have access to something as basic as water?
Yes, during my travels I got sick, tired, and quite frankly, in dire need of personal space. However, looking back at all those moments where I questioned what I was doing, I realized that they were all quickly replaced by excitement, awe, and happiness. So to those that think anyone can travel, think again.
“Having said that, if you are part of the brave few who want to get away from the normal routines of everyday life. To those that want to experience something new every day, I urge you to travel. “
Take that leap, take that chance. Set off and prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime. If you let it, traveling can change your entire life. You will come out of every experience wiser, stronger, and more confident. Yes, it isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to challenge yourself, willing to sacrifice comfort and willing to accept the possibility of change, traveling is for you. I can’t promise you anything, but one thing is for sure. You will come back with friends from all over the world, a collection of photographs to make you smile, and memories to last you a lifetime.
Are you a woman and wondering if you can travel alone? Read Things I Learned from being a Solo Woman Traveler
Looking for inspiration? Read about our people of the world:
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