Beyond the Daily Routine
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. —Mark Twain “
You probably have come across this ol’ saying. Part of you knows how true it is or will be. And to me, when it comes to travelling, I’d say make no excuses, just go.
What You’ll Learn ...
It depends a great deal on the way you travel, and your attitude to what and whom you see on the way. Some tourists see nothing but something which will give them a great thrill and look super-cool on Instagram and Facebook. Some take their culture with them in a protective mental bubble. The most amazing travelers I've ever come across were a couple from Australia who were in their mid-sixties; they began travelling when they retired and haven't stopped. It’s not just for any particular-aged people, it depends who you are, what your priorities are and what stage in life you feel you can "afford" (in more ways than one) to travel.
Moving to different countries has taught me to live life like it’s an adventure. You eventually learn to observe little things, start developing a different perspective and to taste the fullness of life. Travelling is not about being a tourist, but to experience true risk and explore life. In a way, it allows you to move out of your comfort zone and teaches you to not live in fear for the rest of your life. It will form you immensely as a person. You won’t always come home feeling greatly inspired with an amazing new outlook on life, but you may learn not to sweat the small stuff. Because very often nothing really goes according to plan. You become incredibly accepting of others as you realize that everyone is ultimately the same and since you’re constantly meeting people from all walks of life you can relate to many of them. This is a fraction of a fraction of what you’ll get out of travel, but in my opinion it’s all worth more than any university degree. Ultimately, it will change you like nothing else can.
What You’ll See ...
If you go to Asia, you may witness the slave trade, sexist problems; if you go to certain parts of Europe you may see the effects of genocide and religious persecution, if you go to Africa you may find out the ugly side of western paternalism.
All this will break your heart.
But, it will also allow you to value material things or money or people, better than you did before. Whenever you see or visit a beautiful place or wherever you settle down, you should be thankful and feel blessed. You will feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way. You will learn to care.
There are days, when in the midst of a journey, I will just settle down somewhere, in the corner of the street, or in a park, or at an airport, take out my moleskin book and start making a quick sketch of the people or perhaps a particular corner of the area. Some days I wish to get lost in a forest and take along a canvas and along with it some paints so that I have plenty of time to make an art piece out of such beautiful surroundings. To capture things is something that I have always been passionate about and it is also a hobby of mine. I see photographs everywhere I look. I am not always in a position to take the picture but it does keep my mind working. As Daido Moriyama, the great photographer once said, “For me, capturing what I feel with my body is more important than the technicalities of photography. If the image is shaking, it’s OK, if it’s out of focus, it’s OK. Clarity isn’t everything in a photograph. “
I can totally relate to this. In fact, I think we have similarly important moments when travelling, that aren't just about nature. There are world-discovery moments when we see new things, self-discovery moments when we learn about ourselves and kindred-spirit moments when we meet good people, too and this is what keeps us inspired and our mind-working.
“The art of travel is twofold, the art you create on your travels and the art of travelling; comfortably, safely and always with a hint of the unknown and surprise around the corner.”
It’s never too late to become cultured. The world is filled with magnificent people. Wherever you go, you will discover an energy that makes our world a buzzing pot of humanity; a place full of diversity, rich with potential experiences, too vast to comprehend, filled with millions of stories. In many places people will be delighted if you attempt to learn their lingo. Even if you can only say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’, ‘goodbye’ and count to 10, they will rave about your linguistic abilities. And it will make you glad you made that small amount of effort and keen to learn a little bit more.
I could write an essay on what’s it like to stand in front of the Eiffel Tower; the peaceful and serene feeling you get upon entering the Golden Temple in Punjab (India); being able to see the Mona Lisa painting; how good the Italians are at making pasta and pizzas; to walk by Raphael’s painting at MOMA ; to view the Golden Bridge during sunset; to eat the world’s most yummiest cupcakes; to sit by the waters and have a cocktail on a fine summer day in Hawaii; to enter the Taj-Mahal; to sit in a jazz venue and listen to the music played by amazingly passionate musicians or to enter the Arabian bazaar and smell the spices being sold and the coffee being prepared somewhere around the corner. YET, it will be nothing compared to when you go and experience it for yourself. Sure you can surf the Lonely Planet site on the net or watch the Travel & Living channel on television and see what these cities look like. But being there is a completely different story.
Don’t travel alone. If you can, go with a friend, or else meet up with other trustworthy travelers. If you leave home with $2000 in your pocket you can survive for a long time. I'm talking months. Almost every hostel in the world will let you work in exchange for room and board (it’s not really work, more like hanging out with friends all day). Work on a boat in exchange for passage. Go to south-east Asia, India, Nepal, or Bolivia and your money will stretch very far. Get cash jobs in bars and restaurants. These will be some of your most memorable experiences and will be with you forever. Learn quickly how to save your money while on the road and it will last a surprisingly long time. One thing I have to say is if you want to make it happen you will make it happen. And once you do take the plunge you might very well become addicted. I'm currently trying to design my life so I can live location-independent and travel indefinitely. I was and still am a wanderer. Still a journeyman (or woman) in search of answers; still a pilgrim in a foreign land.
Just GO. There are always reasons not to leave home and as you get older obstacles present themselves to you more often and appear more profound. The truth is, the longer you leave it, the harder it will become. Don’t wait any longer. Get on the road, take your time and most of all - enjoy!