Feet to move, places to roam
What made you decide sip on Sangria in Spain? Or free fall through the sky in New Zealand? Or tackle the trek of Machu Picchu? Was the selling point the stories you heard from your best friend, co-workers or scrolling through Instagram photos? Plenty of those aspects make traveling already more tempting than simply just booking the flight out of your city because you crave a change of scenery. However once you have caved and spent more than you would have liked on airfare, accommodation for when you arrive and all the other bits and pieces you will need to stuff in your suitcase, the pre-made scenarios you have drawn out in your mind are about to get a lot better than you could have ever predicted.
Once you have landed and collected your baggage, you begin by being ambitious and wanting to explore all your surroundings. You breathe in that new air and photograph everything in sight. Perhaps you are jet lagged, starving because you avoided eating the suspicious looking ingredients in your sandwich during the in flight meal, or maybe you have landed somewhere where the culture shock is immediate and you do not know how to react yet. However, you have arrived and despite the fact you are tired, you are pumped with adrenaline because hey, nothing is better than landing somewhere you have never been before.
You begin rummaging through our bag looking for the list. The list containing all your”Must do’s” while in this new city. Look at you, so cute thinking that you will actually tackle all of them. Wrong. You check into your hostel/hotel (or pitch your tent if that is your thing) whatever it is and you begin to make conversation with the person right beside you that has also just arrived. You exchange the common questions where are you from, what do you do, are you traveling alone? And within 2 minutes you start to wonder how you have gone so long without knowing someone this incredible. Oh and look at that, you are also roommates.
You and your new best friend begin to discuss the activities you both want to check out and start to plan your whole day start to finish. The second you step out into the city/the woods/the markets, whatever, your day has already been altered. If you have not learned by now, nothing ever goes as planned while traveling. Something better always comes up and you say “Yes” to it because being spontaneous cancels out whatever trip advisor suggested. You thought you were going to take a train to Belgium alone for the day and go eat a waffle? Wrong. You end up meeting two other fellow Canadians, sit at a cafe overlooking all of Paris throughout the morning, rent bikes in the afternoon, share meats, wine and cheeses at a restaurant you cannot pronounce the name of and then end up staying awake until 5AM when you have a flight to catch at 9AM. You don’t end up changing your clothes and fly home in the same outfit you have been wearing for 2 days. Classy.
Maybe what I am trying to get at is that having the opportunity to pick up your life and embark on a new adventure no matter how near or far away would not be the same without the people you meet along the way. If you are reading this and have never done it before, I encourage you to travel alone because I guarantee you will participate in more enriching conversations with other people when you are alone rather than traveling with 3 other friends. The people you shake hands with on planes, trains, buses, ferry rides, whatever the transportation may be, are some of the most fascinating people you will encounter. They make layovers and long train/bus journeys more interesting. If they are someone who rambles on and you would rather just stick your headphones in, listen to them anyway and plug into your “Thailand 2016” playlist later. They may be irritating at the time, however I am sure it will make a good story or perhaps they have some really good advice jumbled into those 1000 words per minute. Take the time to get to know your roommates if you are staying in a hostel. Even if you feel like being alone that day, invite them out with you. Grab a meal together. You may never see them again, so why not take the time to learn about their culture, why they are here and where they plan on going. Without taking the time to know other travelers, your travel stories would not exist. How cool is it to have an inside joke, or a secret you will take to your grave with someone who lives on the opposite side of the planet? I have a lot of things to thank the people I met while traveling for. Some of the deepest conversations I have had were with people I did not even exchange my name with. Some of the best advice I have received was from an old man I asked for directions from on a bus in Victoria, BC, and we talked for no more than 5 minutes until I got off. Sometimes the only person who can make me feel better when I am upset is on the other side of the world. To each and every person I have met throughout my 22 years of life, thank you.
Thank you for being my pen pal:
Thank you for loving me enough to continue writing long e-mails, texts, and letters that contain the contents of what is happening in your current life. Thank you for sharing your stories with me that your friends at home wont listen to, for asking me for advice, for checking in on me when you know I am sad, for taking the time out of your day to write down your thoughts and hear my opinion on them. The people we interact with on a daily basis at home dont simply ask “How are you doing?” because they see you everyday or the assume the answer is “Good” or “Fine.” The people who live a 15 hour time zone away do not get the opportunity to walk a few blocks over to your home and give you a hug when you need it most, so for them to skype, call, or write to you on the regular is something special. Treasure it and don’t ever cut off contact with them just because you “Don’t have the time to write back.” Make the extra effort and do your best to meet up with them again somewhere in the world.
Thank you for reminding me that we all suffer the same problems universally:
Thank you for sharing with me the stories of how you had your heart broken and how much it hurt. It reminds me that (most) relationships suffer similar kinds of issues and it does not just occur in your hometown, but everywhere. Some people are just that, mean and you will encounter them wherever you move or wherever you travel too. Thank you for reminding me how school is struggle no matter where you attend and we somehow push through it until graduation just to receive a degree that comes in a fancy envelope.Now the real world can commence and the real travel.On that same note, to all the people I have met that have not tried post secondary education or dropped out of it, thank you for reminding me that there is more to life than wasting hours and days slaving over mediocre grades and reading bad textbooks. Thank you for reminding me that sibling feuds are inevitable and we are stuck with the brothers/sisters that we have forever and sometimes we just have to suck up the differences when they do come up. Thank you for reminding me that we have to fight for the things that we want most. Sadly wishes don’t fall from the sky and we cannot scrap them off the bottom of the Trevi Fountain, we have to make things happen for ourselves.
Thank you for being spontaneous:
There is nothing like waking up in the morning in a new place and having no concrete plans, just going with the flow. Thank you for attending music festivals with me last minute, thank you for arriving at my hostel by surprise and then participating in a really bad hike in the rain with me, thank you for attempting to rent a car with me just to drive to a tulip field, thank you for hitchhiking to Winnipeg after only knowing each other for less than 10 minutes and thank you for always keeping me guessing. Thank you for taking on whatever challenge and opportunity comes our way with no going back. Thank you for doing whatever makes you happy and taking on new tasks you usually wouldn’t. Thank you for trying new food, drinks, going off the beaten path, staying up until morning and taking on another new and unpredictable day with me. Thank you for leaving your comfort zone and breaking through mine.Sometimes the people who know you for five minutes can already read you better than yourself.
Thank you for allowing me into your life:
Traveling solo already makes you look like a more approachable person than someone who is very obviously traveling in a big group. Thank you to the people I have approached or who have approached me and decided they actually wanted to pursue something off that one sentence encounter. Thank you for cooking me dinner before you even knew my name, thank you for giving me directions that I would have never figured out alone, thank you for coming along when I invited you out, thank you for allowing us to take care of one another and thank you even after traveling home still being the greatest friend. This list of thank you’s could run on forever but for now, I will finish off with saying I do not know what I would do without you. xx