Updated: Aug 28, 2019
“What does travelling have to do with the ‘real world’ anyway?”
More than you could ever imagine!
I recently wrote 7 individual blogs posts that all intertwine in one large blog. After some great feedback I thought I’d put it all in one place…….
Travel Tip #1 The struggles of the journey become insignificant when you reach your destination
Very often, we get tired with the journey on the way to our destination and forget that if we stay the path, it will be worth it. I’ve been there plenty of times, and I’m sure at some point you’ve been there too – literally and metaphorically! I can assure you that I’m no skilled mountain climber (not even close) but on a trip to Japan with my best friend, we decided to climb Mount Fuji. It’s not a climb that requires training, but it isn’t exactly easy, particularly if you’d spent the previous few months indulging in life and eating your way around the planet (Guilty!)
So on the climb, my boots pinched my feet, it grew colder the higher we climbed, my thighs were in agony, the mountain was uneven and rocks would wobble and roll away, which made it extremely difficult to stay balanced. We stayed in a mountain hut overnight, and left out again at midnight to complete the climb – pitch black! We reached the next base and I realised that I’d left my phone in the hut, so clambered back down, in the dark towards oncoming crowds of people. I then got my phone, and climbed back up, with much less enthusiasm than I had started with, and looking ahead at the queue to get to the top I began to question whether it was going to be what I had hoped it would be. Isn’t it funny how we do that? We had already climbed so high, so I couldn’t understand how by climbing a little further it would make that much difference, but of course I had no intention of turning back, so on we trotted.Two things happened as I made the final uphill step onto the mountain; the first was the sheer joy that we’d completed the climb, and still made it in time for sunset even with the phone dramas. The second thing was instant euphoria and emotion that rushed through every pore in my body! It was an incredible feeling, that caused my eyes to water and my heart to pound. The view was breathtaking! We were above the clouds, and the colour of the sky was vibrant and changing before my eyes. Usually you need to look up at the sky, by here I was looking straight ahead; I was IN the sky!
In life, we have unlimited moments like this. We can’t see if our journey is worth it until we reach the top. Had we given up whilst scrambling across the rocks, we would have saved our legs the pain, but missed out on something indescribable, and wouldn’t have had any idea on what we’d missed out on. How many opportunities have we missed because we found the first steps uncomfortable and difficult? There’s a mountain with your name on it, start climbing!
Travel Lesson #2 Be prepared to meet some of the best people in your life
This may actually come as a bit of a shock to many people, it did to me when I first figured it out. The thing is, sometimes our friendship circles don’t necessarily serve us as we grow and develop into the person we were supposed to be. Usually, as a child, teenager and young adult, our friendships develop from our geographical location or educational background. We’re friends with our neighbours, the friends we sat next to at school, the group of people at youth club, and these friends connect with our soul through commonality – we understand each other’s background, our upbringings are relatable and that will never change. It may be one of the strongest forms of friendships that exist. I honestly believed that this was the only type of friendship that I needed in my life; I was perfectly happy with friends and never felt the need to expand my circle.Then I went travelling.
And at first, this mindset continued. But before long, staying in hostels, and sitting on long bus rides, you have no choice but to get forced into and around new people in such a close and invasive manner, that it isn’t long before you realise that friendship isn’t just the people that you share history with, it’s the people that share the same vision and future as you. I grew up in a council estate and moved around quite a bit, many of my friends had a similar upbringing. All of a sudden I was sharing my space and the same dreams as people who’s educational backgrounds couldn’t have been further from mine, and who lived in places in the uk and around the world that I’d never be able to place on a map. But that wasn’t important, what was important was that I experienced FAFS (friendship at first sight ) multiple times on a level so powerful that it frightened me that I may never have crossed paths with these friends had I not travelled. I believe that everybody who steps into your life is either a lesson or a blessing – and I was fortunate enough to experience so many blessings from the people I met. (Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of lessons too!) But the experience taught me that what we think is our circle, our life or our future is just our perception because we don’t know any different. It’s so much bigger than we could ever imagine if we just take the time to speak to and connect with people who maybe we wouldn’t think to usually.
We’re social creatures and need all kinds of relationships to thrive, so never limit yourself to what you’ve always known Get out there and find those missing peas to your pod!
Travel Lesson #3 It’s ridiculously easy to take things for granted
As much as we try our best to be grateful, I hate to say it, but we are really awful at maintaining that gratitude. We want something so bad, for so long, and when we finally get it, the value of it in our head diminishes. This happens ALL THE TIME! And the scary thing is that it happens so subtly that most of us don’t even notice! We feel as though we’ve just arrived at a place of ungratefulness, and once we’re there, it can be tricky to get it back.This happened to me while I was in New Zealand on an extreme scale. And I had absolutely no idea until afterwards! I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to New Zealand, but the only way I can describe it is like the movie Avatar (maybe a slight exaggeration) but very close to a fantasy world. Particularly the South Island .
Plush greenery and turquoise lakes that look so incredible that your brain just can’t understand the beauty of what you’re looking at. Brightly coloured sunsets that showcased almost every colour of the rainbow and thousands of stars in the sky at night, caves inhabited by glow worms looked like the entire underground caves are decorated with fairy lights. Landscapes of rolling hills as far as your eyes can see, snow-capped mountains surrounded by glaciers, cliffs and mountains with waterfalls bursting through them. I now can completely relate to those cartoons where the character rubs their eyes with their fists and lean a little closer just to see if it’s real. New Zealand is just on another level!When I arrived, I was constantly so overwhelmed with happiness and disbelief, that I would look out of the window of the bus for hours and hours on end as we travelled across the entire country. I never wanted to stop seeing what I was seeing, I even found it difficult to sleep because I didn’t want to miss anything! I literally felt like I was constantly on the verge of happy tears. Basically, an absolute hot mess – in a good way.
I don’t know when I stopped noticing the views, it happened so gradually that it wasn’t even detectable. I just know that over time the bus became more and more uncomfortable, the stop-off photo opportunities became more inconvenient, the cold breeze began to irritate me and I craved hostel bars more than I craved scenic walks through rainforests and jumping into waterfalls. Somehow I’d forgotten to be grateful, and the beauty that surrounded me became my “new-normal”.
This happens in all aspects of our lives; our new shiny career may seem too good to be true to start off with but soon we can’t stand the long days and increasing pressure of targets, we meet a guy and an explosive romance can soon dwindle into a pathetic flickering candle, we move into our dream house but then then the reality of paying the bills and fixing it up soon brush the novelty of our achievement away.Thankfully, the beauty of NZ was so “in your face” that it demanded me to be grateful and I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. But just think if I had become ungrateful, it would be a metaphor for how many of us go through life. Ignoring all of the things that made us fall head over heels in the first place.
I learned that if I started my day with gratitude and ended it the same, I could never forget to be grateful. Travel lesson #4 You might just discover a bad-ass braver version of yourself
I’m always that person in the group who insists on holding the bags while everybody else is getting strapped into a rollercoaster and getting catapulted around a shuddering steel track. I didn’t admit it for ages because I wanted to seem like I could handle anything, but the truth is, I really just don’t like rollercoasters! I can’t handle the anxiety that builds whilst in the queue and I can’t say I’m exactly a fan of plummeting towards the ground at speed, and let’s not even go there with that feeling in your stomach!
No thank you!
Anyway, because I don’t like them, I’ve always found it so bizarre that there’s an entire theme park industry full of rides that are specifically designed to scare the living s*#% out of you. How is this FUN!?!! What is wrong with people?
I’m sure you’ve guessed it, but I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a rollercoaster wimp! And I eventually came to terms with that, as did did everybody else. So naturally I became the “bag lady,” and discovered a new-found passion for scoffing donuts down my throat whilst my friends got twirled around in the sky like spinning-tops. (Best hobby ever by the way.)I liked it in this happy medium of my safety zone. Occasionally I’d get on a ride, which always shocked the living daylights out of everybody – myself included! I even cried on Disney’s Tower of Terror ride in Orlando three years ago!
Moving on…….I’ve spoken to a few people about this, so I know it’s not just me, but once you touch down in a new environment, it seems that a braver version of yourself appears! It’s almost like your level of courage raises to be in alignment with where you’ve always wanted it to be. This is where you can do the things that you usually wouldn’t dream of doing – and on top of that, you’re surrounded by other people who are experiencing the same thing, so they help validate it!
We convince ourselves that this is a once in a lifetime experience, we’ll never get this opportunity again and we sign up for something crazy! It could be jumping into a waterfall, bungee jumping, diving with sharks – anything! For me, it was skydiving with my best friend. She experienced this enhanced level of courage I’m talking about, and it rubbed off on me, and before I knew it, I was booking tickets. It was ridiculously out of character!The experience itself is something I’d never repeat (it can be one of those once in a lifetime things) however, the things I told myself to convince my brain that it was a good idea have been repeated over and over again ever since. So let’s think about this, if we can muster up the mental strength to convince ourselves it’s a good idea to jump out of a plane with 90 seconds of free falling before any sign of a parachute, do you think that we could maybe tell ourselves it’s a good idea to wake up a bit earlier and go for a run? And if you can keep it together when the hatch opens on a moving plane and your instructor tells you to literally step off into the sky, do you think that maybe you can put together a PowerPoint presentation and speak in front of a room of people? I thought so!
So here’s what I’ve done, I’ve borrowed that artificial courage when I’ve been faced with something that terrifies me. I speak my brain’s language, and remind it that I’m in no physical danger and if I can put my body through a skydive, I sure as hell can make it through a spinning class, or do a live video, or smash it in an audition, or even go on a date! (The scariest of them all)!The bottom line is that we are all so much more courageous than we could ever imagine. It sometimes takes these extreme situations to test what we’re capable of!Ask yourself, if you could always be the bravest version of yourself, who would you be? Travel Lesson #5 You don’t need a lot to be truly happy.
We live in a world that evolves so quickly that the planet, quite literally, can’t keep up. I can’t even imagine how advanced we’ll be by the time we get a few generations down the line. It always poses the question “how did we used to cope without all this stuff?” The stuff that we use everyday, the device that you’re holding as you read this blog, all of it seems so necessary.
When we think about what we’d like to achieve in life, I’d be surprised if it didn’t include some materialistic items; In the world we call home, material goods are how we measure wealth, security and stability. It’s the modern-day currency. But I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s not enough. However, do we really know what we need to be happy?I know myself very well – I’m the most social of butterflies and I’m happiest when I’m around people, laughing, connecting, sharing stories, getting to know people and more laughing. I thought I did plenty of this at home, and I do! But our everyday life is overflowing with distractions and that’s how we live, so that’s all we really know. We’ve adapted and evolved to this lifestyle of juggling a million different things and spending our time trying to find ‘balance’ but never achieving it.Rewind to 2015 when I found myself smack-bang in the middle of one of Queensland’s largest farm regions, my city lifestyle seemed to be a distant memory, and very quickly I replaced my Melbourne-chic wardrobe for Wellington boots and oversized t-shirts. This was not a transition I took lightly There are endless things I could tell you about my 4 month break from “reality”, but one of the most precious of all is experiencing life with no (or very few) distractions. This left space to share incredible moments with people that in the real world we may have been too busy to have. We were pulled into a community that was held together primarily by relationships – not technology.
It made me notice and appreciate the little things, I mean super tiny things! We made whole events of cutting up old clothes, cooking as a whole group of 20 people, playing word association games for hours on end, talking about the most random of thoughts and still finding common connections. It’s like deep down, when you strip back all the layers, we all think exactly the same things!Everybody had a part to play within our community and when any one person left, it was a ceremonious event. It taught me not to take relationships for granted, and reminded me that we all need people around us to grow and thrive in our lives.We don’t need a lot in life to be truly happy, so try not to concentrate on all the “stuff”. The most important things in life, will always be based on our relationships with other people. Travel Lesson #6 You can tolerate more than you even know
In life, we will be tested. This is inevitable in all areas of our life. But whilst travelling, I experienced tests that made me truly question whether or not it was worth it, and they started from day one!
I like my sleep, and I like being comfortable – and without these two things being checked off my little mental list, I find it extremely difficult to be a nice person. Please tell me I’m not alone in this, I can be super grumpy and snappy if I don’t get what I need!
Usually, I’m all about quality and experience over everything! However, when it comes to travel, I seemed to flip that on its head. I always preferred quantity over quality so I could have as many adventures as possible in my lifetime and not need to save for 25 years in between! So when I was searching through the internet at all hours of the night to find the cheapest flights, accommodation and transport it didn’t occur to me that maybe a 18 hour bus ride through desert-land or a rocky overnight boat ride with no working toilets would irritate me. When booking these things, I thought my future-self wouldn’t care about the inconvenience of it and could hold a pee in for 5 hours no problem because I’d just be so grateful that I was on my way to something amazing.
Note to self, we can’t predict the future! That all went out of the window and I was absolutely fuming at my past-self for thinking it was a good idea to book these forms of transport. But then something weird happened after a while of experiencing this. I’d get so fed up with the uncomfortable long journey or so fed up of some backpacking monster who would snore all night long, and I would be teetering on the edge of some sort of dramatic, explosive breakdown. And a little switch would go off in my head and change the direction of my emotion – usually to a state of humour.
I have never laughed so much at unfortunate events as I do now since going travelling. There’s countless moments I can remember it happening, like the time me and my friends slept in the stinkiest room in the world in a budget guest house in Thailand. The smell was so awful that the toilet would gargle in the night and the smell that was released instantly woke us all up. Another “hysterical” moment was chasing a flying cockroach around our flat until it flew straight into my backpack and was never found again even when we carefully emptied the contents (whilst screaming). And I can’t forget the time I was on a mountain bike in Bolivia on a tour and came face to face with a landslide, we had to carry our bikes down a partial cliff. Instantly my “nervous-laughter” kicked in and now whenever I think of it, I find it difficult not to smile (or burst out laughing in public).
The truth is, we can tolerate so much more than we even know! And yes, whilst situations that we find ourselves in may not be the best, you have to remember that pain and discomfort is temporary. This applies at the gym, with a difficult customer, when you’re having a bad day, when you’re stuck in traffic. Eventually it will be over. So what can you do? Not much, but try to make a mental note that this is one of those painful moments that just happens, brace yourself and try to see the funny side. Laughter will save you from a lot of pain. Travel Lesson #7 You’ll miss the things that you wanted to get away from
British weather is so ridiculous that it’s an ongoing, worldwide joke. It’s all in good humour, and we take it on the chin, but sometimes it just isn’t funny. One of the main reasons a lot of us book holidays is to escape our drizzly, grey weather and find the sun – (we know it’s out there somewhere). So we go in search of somewhere as close to the equator as we can and bask ourselves in those gorgeous rays of sunshine (smothered in spf30 of course!) That was what I wanted anyway, sunshine, blue sea, sand between my toes, eating al fresco without the worry of torrential rain wiping me out, being able to leave the house in the evenings without a jacket, waking up to sunshine, long evenings with bright sunsets – the lot!!So off I go on this adventure, and it was incredible. Not being tied down to a “job for life”, travelling here there and everywhere on a whim, no plan, just living in the moment. And the weather! I can’t express in words how great it is to see long, summery days and live everyday like it‘s an adventure. I have a sneaky feeling that’s actually how we’re supposed live.
Being in a routine is a bit like a never ending treadmill, and occasionally we need to shake it up a bit. It doesn’t have to be any drastic, but any change in routine will make a huge difference.
I regularly asked myself, if it was possible to live this life of adventure while I was out of my home country, why couldn’t I do it whilst I was back home? That really got me thinking. Especially when Christmas came around and I spent it on a beach with a huge group of new friends, turquoise waves crashing into the sand a few metres away, we even built a sandman to help us get in the spirit. As much as I loved and appreciated this experience, there were no comfy Christmas socks or pigs in blankets in sight; no big festive build up, no Christmas songs or wintery surroundings that made you crave a hot chocolate with whipped cream! It was kind of just like every other day of my adventure. I never thought in a million years that I would miss our terrible weather, but on that day I did. I missed a lot of things. And it reminded me that sometimes you need to take things away and change your routine to help you remember how much you loved what you already had.
It’s helped me understand that you don’t need to be abroad to live a life of adventure. We all create our own adventure, but somehow when we find ourselves in a routine, we forget that we’re the ones in control and it feels like life is dragging you along.
Get back behind the steering while of your life, put your seat-belt on, pick your lane and enjoy the ride.