Why do we travellers always want to travel more?
I read an article this week by Kellie Donnelly “The hardest part of travelling no one talks about”. I never really thought about the reason why I want to travel as often as I do. Leaving home at 18 to travel only for a couple of weeks in a year to now, 22 travelling every 3 months for 1-2 months at a time. I guess I always thought it was because I wanted to “explore” more of the world. After reading this article I can now truly understand why I get up and go so frequently.
I like to think i’m most comfortable in surroundings which are familiar and consistent rather than new and always changing, but how when I travel to new places 3-4 times a year? In Donnelly’s article she writes that “… its the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English, or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.” So how does this makes sense if i’m always out of my comfort zone? Simple answer: I understand a language only people around me in my situation understand.
I started travelling to prove to myself that after failing miserably once I can do it and it doesn’t define who I am but it happened to teach me more importantly what I now know about myself. Over the last 4 years, travelling has allowed me to be the person I am today. Prior to travelling I was very closed minded to the outer world, how people who weren’t in my life lived and how others around me thought and behaved based on their life experience. During high school I would say I was fairly quiet in new surroundings, I didn’t try things out of my comfort zone and I stayed with people and environments I was comfortable in. I have always been outgoing but had very little confidence in my actions and appearance as well as always second guessed what others thought of me and how they perceive me. 17 year old me wouldn’t be able to comprehend what I now know about people and places. 17 year old me would have followed social norms and expectations of a university lifestyle and consequently getting a full-time job. I’m so glad I was the black sheep.
Travelling is a blessing and a curse. Leaving home and have travelled so much in the last 4 years, I’ve become aware of the types of people around me, the types of lifestyles people i’m close to have and how much i’ve grown mentally while others who didn’t travel haven’t. I see it in my everyday life.
Most of my friends now and I have no doubt in the future are people who don’t permanently live in Australia. People who understand how the world actually works, people who have experienced certain cultures and differences and most importantly people who don’t see a race or nationality as a difference but as a way to bring people together. I feel more comfortable with a stranger who i’ve met on a tour or day trip rather than people who live and have been in the same city their whole lives.
I absolutely love travelling, being immersed in culture, landscapes and the people who have built them. Now reflecting on what Donnelly wrote it’s not only that, it’s the people that made my experience what it was. The constant positivity, sense of adventure and unknowing from other travellers that really makes me want to travel. Learning about peoples past experience while travelling, understanding what they learned from certain experiences and growing all together. These people for the time you’re away are your family, your brothers and sisters.
Overtime I understood how certain situations effected my mood and behaviour, how being out of my comfort zone affected my mental and physical health and how much I really knew about myself and how others perceived me. Travelling as a backpacker isn’t about seeing new places and exploring cities, it’s about who you explore those cities with. Travelling down the east coast late 2018 I met over 100 people, all of which have impacted my behaviour in some form. Whether it be positive or negative it’s always going to teach me something I didn’t know about myself or others. I learned how to appreciate people who I normally wouldn't, how to understand someones perspective even when it’s completely opposite to your own and most importantly to accept everyone who surrounds you for being their own.
Being back ‘home’ in Sydney I am constantly reminded of what I could have turned out to be if I didn’t have the life experience I do now. Although travelling near and far you do feel anxious, sad, as a massive pot of negative feelings at times, it’s the unspoken language that others around you have the capability of talking that helps you get through it. Your friends and family can help but don’t have that ability to understand exactly what is making you feel that way. When I return home i’m always looking forward to sharing my experiences but never able to fully tell the whole story because they weren’t there. I always look for that sense of acceptance and understanding with others who don’t understand what it’s like to be in a hostel where you know no one, you have $5 to your name and no plan for how you’re going to get out of it. That sense of needing to have someone to depend on and having something who depends on you when they are pushing their limits with new things everyday. The emotion when you become so close to someone and you eventually part ways, and understanding that it’s not only you that misses their company, yes some day today events can be similar but again you don't fully understand what we are feeling until you've been in our shoes.
We all travel to find that acceptance where we all understand each others emotions, both positive and negative experiences and how much we grow, building knowledge everyday. I would never take back my failures or bad memories because for all of those I made memories with someone who understood exactly what I was feeling and taught me how I now deal with them.
When you come 'home' know you're not alone, although sometimes you feel out of place and misunderstood there is always that language you are so lucky to have to use. That language that you aren't alone and that you do belong somewhere.
I want to hear about how you've grown and what you think makes you travel more. Has this helped you understand it's not always the physical draw card that draws you back to traveling?