Feet to move, places to roam
I wish I could explain the high that comes along with travel well enough to make you feel like you were experiencing this roller coaster of a journey with me. I just returned home from my second escapade to Europe and this time around was a completely different whirlwind of emotions than the last. An easy answer to why this experience was greater than the previous is simply because I did it alone. In the past eight months, I have set off on three separate adventures that each taught me various valuable life lessons, most of which all came from myself having the courage to venture off enough times that the world has taught me something beneficial. At the beginning of 2015, I could tell that this single year would be the one that changed my life for the better, that would help me uncover who I am as a person and help me learn more about those around me. In April I turned 21 and noticed that when people would ask what the craziest or most exciting thing I have ever done was, I never knew what to reply with or realized it really was not worth sharing. Once I had this epiphany, I wanted to create moments from here on out that were jaw-dropping and riveting, the kind of stories that would leave people wanting to hear more, leave them jealous, speechless, or inspire them to leave their comfort zone in order to create their own unique stories. As soon as 2015 quickly started to unravel, all I wanted was to feel like I was living my life in the most fulfilling and satisfactory way possible, so I knew a solo adventure would be the finest way to accomplish that. I didn’t have to persuade myself into travelling alone, I always knew one day it was something I wanted to try and the rest became history. At the beginning of August I packed up my suitcase and wandered off on my first ever solo journey, and here is what the world taught me:
1 .Once you learn how to be on your own, nothing else really matters: Before I departed for Europe, when people would ask who I would was travelling with this time around, once I replied with “I’m going on my own” countless individuals would say that I am brave, or I am crazy, or I will get lonely, whatever it was, it didn’t faze me in any way what so ever because it was what I wanted. I wanted to isolate myself for several weeks. I wanted to experience new countries on my own, only to appreciate travel and myself more. I knew before I left that there would be a chance that I didn’t like my roommates, or I would get lonely, however the truth is, out of the three weeks I was away, there was maybe a total of 5-10 hours when I was completely alone. I met so many incredible groups of people in ever country I entered that I never felt afraid, scared or alone. I honestly believe that people love solo travelers more than the ones that travel in pairs or larger groups. Although I made friends, I still made the effort in every country I was in to still do something just with myself. I would go for walks alone or have a meal by myself just so I would have the time to sit in that moment and soak everything in by myself without a distraction of another person. I found it necessary to appreciate the moment I was in with myself every once and awhile, and I have to admit it was absolutely refreshing. I traveled to Europe alone to discover what it was like to do things for myself and by myself, to prove that I could live on my own. I have learned how to deal with situations that didn’t go the way they were planned and how to fix it on my own without the help of another person. I have never wanted to be that person that depended on someone else to do tasks for me, and I never will be that person. Traveling alone showed me that whatever life throws my way, I can survive and handle it, whatever it may be. I was not forced into solo travel, no one told me I had to go alone, I chose to do it this way. I proved to myself that I can do whatever it is I want, if I want it badly enough and it feels incredible.
2. Home is everywhere and no where: When people would ask if I was ready to head back home once my travels were quickly concluding, the answer was always and easily, without hesitation, “Noooo”. Whenever I am off gallivanting the world far from home, I never miss it. Sure, I stayed in some hostels that made me miss my own shower and bed, however this would always remind me that staying in crappy accommodation is part of the experience because once I return home, I would give anything to be back in those 10 person, mixed dorm rooms with no air conditioning, in the middle of a European heat wave. Although the classic, overused, phrase “Home is where the heart is” might apply here, I have left my heart in multiple different locations now that everywhere is considered home to me. The comfort of returning to city and being capable of navigating myself around the area without Siri or a map, makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside. To know that I have been somewhere enough to pin point all my favorite restaurants, parks, and places that hold memories, and to know I can go somewhere and meet up with people in these certain areas, there is nothing I can think of that makes me happier. I don’t define home as a place of where I grew up or where all my family and childhood friends are situated, I define home as somewhere that has changed me, somewhere that I have discovered myself and grew as a person; a place that holds potential for me. I don’t ever get homesick and I never miss individual people from home while I am abroad. When I am in classes back at home, I daydream and crave the freedom of being able to go wherever, whenever with nothing holding me back. I miss the people I met in countries that taught me how to feel alive and those who taught me that there is more to life than always having a secure plan for the future. I live for last-minute adventures and being spontaneous but I also enjoy the security of knowing what will happen when the high of the escapade comes to an end. I cannot define home as a specific place at the moment, I just know I feel more comfortable living out of a suitcase than having a place to store all my clothes in a closet at home. Home is roaming constantly just because I want to, I can and I will.
3. The travel bug never leaves: I cannot even try to list on both my hands how many people I encountered that were on their travels for the long haul and let me tell you, it absolutely ripped my heart out. I also cannot even begin to explain how hard it was to come home once the invitations kept rolling in for me to join others as they continued their journeys to the south of France, Spain, London, Scotland, Greece, etc. It took a lot inside of me not to switch my flights home after days of contemplation wondering if it would be the reasonable decision to do in that moment. If you had asked me a year ago when I had more money to extend my travels, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now and would be wandering the coast of Spain. I have written and mentioned before how the travel bug cannot be cured; I honestly believe you can die from it, it is that deadly. There is no pill, no medication and no cure for the travel bug which is why I believe you just have to keep wandering in order to stay sane. The travel bug never leaving is also correlated to the other disease “Fear of missing out” (FOMO). Now that I am back home, I am living vicariously through all those I met abroad who are still travelling. Meanwhile, I am considering removing them from Snapchat, Instagram and Faceboook feed because every time I view another snap or picture, I am tempted to get up and leave again (Not that this is a bad thing, just even more inspiration to work hard and leave again soon enough).
4. I would pick up and move at any given time: I get attached to destinations more than I get attached to people. Countries, cities and towns have a different way of stealing one’s heart than people do. I do however still fall in love with people, but I fall in love with the memories that we shared in those countries that I left my heart in. Either way, if it is people or cities I am drooling over, I was still lucky enough to be introduced to so many fascinating people while abroad and listening to each individual story, they all inspired and educated me on how simple it is to pack up and move when there isn’t anything but opportunity holding you back in a new destination. Other than the fact that I am currently working on finishing my B.Ed degree back in Winnipeg, there is not a lot that is leaving me attached to living in Winnipeg the rest of my life. When I write and reminisce on my travels, I miss being in specific places with the people I met in them. While I am currently writing this post, I have certain people in mind that I met this year that have changed the way I view life. They taught me how to be more relaxed, not to worry about what is happening a week from now but to live in the moment. Although I am always reminded when I scurry off on these escapades not to fall in love with someone who lives half away across the world, I realized this time around that the world is a lot smaller than we make it out to be. It is as easy as boarding one flight and being anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. There are 196 countries on this planet, and nearly 2.5 million cities, how am I expected to sit still when there is so much left to uncover?
I have come to the realization that I would rather be poor and have seen the world than be rich but have never left my work desk. If the truth is we are all going to die eventually, why should I stress about the stupid, little details if they won’t matter a year from now? I am 21, perhaps now you may think I am a bit naive after getting inside my mind, however, I think I have figured out at a young age what I want and until I change my mind, I see no signs of my life slowing down.