Why I Love to Travel
People who aren’t long-term travel-obsessed the way I am often ask me why I love traveling so much. When I meet people on the road, there tends to be a common understanding that we all love to travel, but we rarely ask each other why. So, I decided it would be fun to get to the root of it and question myself as to why I do, in fact, love traveling so much.
Often times traveling can be a complete headache, especially with the way I travel. I’m constantly unpacking and repacking my bag, dealing with bus schedules, taxi drivers and shop keepers in languages I don’t speak, and sleeping in beds that are only slightly comfortable at best. Because I prefer traveling in underdeveloped countries as opposed to developed ones, places I come across are rugged, dirty, and often lack infrastructure and fairly basic necessities like water and electricity. This means I deal with power cuts, cockroaches, and on a rare occasion rat turds in the guesthouses I stay in, unsanitary tap water, old mattresses with mystery stains and rusty springs, and overall general filth. Am I making world travel sound appealing yet? It seems that staying in the comfort of my own home would be the much more sensible, safe, and sane alternative… So why on earth am I so passionate about traveling?
Because I’m not looking for safe and comfortable. I can be safe and comfortable when I’m dead. Don’t get me wrong, in a way I love nothing more than snuggling up in a big comfortable bed knowing that a hot shower awaits me as well as a grande vanilla latte just around the corner. But there is nothing surprising or interesting about this. It’s too easy. I’m looking to be shaken to the core, to experience life raw and unfiltered, and to prove that all these small comforts I’ve grown up accustomed to are unnecessary. They distract from the true essence and fragility of life. When you remove all of these luxuries and comforts, what you have is real, rugged and untamed life.
Because it’s exciting! Everything is unexpected. Each day is unknown and full of promise, and I never know what awaits me at each turn. One moment I am climbing off a bus in a town I can’t pronounce, and the next I’m sharing beers and engaging in interesting conversations on the rooftop of my guesthouse with a couple of like-minded souls from the other side of the world. It’s fun to spend the days wandering and exploring, trying local dishes, speaking with the locals, seeing some beautiful nature, and trying to find my place in all of it.
Because it is a bittersweet condensed version of our life events. Everything is constantly changing; nothing is permanent. People drift in and out of my life just as they do in the “real world”, but quicker and unapologetically. Friendships are formed faster and more intensely than in the “real world”. When I meet people on the road, we spend so much time together and see each other through many ups and downs in a relatively short period of time. Because we are all far from home, we depend on each other and lean on each other more than we would have the need to back home. We see each other through frustrations, sicknesses, happy moments and confusing moments. And then the day comes when we depart from each others lives, as stealth and seamlessly as we arrived. I have surprised myself by saying goodbye with tears rolling down my cheeks to amazing people who I had known less than a month. It’s bittersweet and beautiful.
Because I love to eat. One of my favorite things about traveling is tasting the local cuisine, especially if the region I’m in specializes in some mean hot chilis. Some of my absolute best meals have been from street vendors on the streets of Bangkok and Yangshuo, which I’ve enjoyed on a little plastic chair in the midst of traffic fumes. Luxury at its finest.
Because it opens up my eyes to different ways of life and different perspectives. It takes me out of my bubble from back home and pops it before my very eyes. I get to experience extreme cultural differences, values, traditions, beliefs, and even different senses of humor. It yanks the veil off my eyes and opens me up to ideas and perspectives I hadn’t had before. It also puts things back in place for me, making me realize how short and precious life is.
Because it tests my limits and challenges me. Whether I’m trekking up a steep mountain with gear in tow or climbing off a rickshaw in some remote village, my limits and patience are continuously being tested. It can be physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging, and with this, very rewarding.
Because it makes me realize how incredibly grateful and blessed I am. No matter where I go, I always miss home when I travel. I miss my supportive family, my friends, and Chipotle. There is absolutely nothing like coming home after a good-sized stint on the road and realizing how lucky I am to come from where I do and have the freedoms that I have. Many women I meet do not have those freedoms. Many people I meet do not have the means to travel. But I do. I am grateful for that, and I am grateful for the place that I always get to call “home”.
Because I feel it’s what I’m meant to do right now. Some people are content working 9 to 5 in their cubicles, going to the same bar every Friday night, and having their life laid out before them like a road map- which is completely fine it makes them happy. But it’s not for me. I want more out of life. I embrace change and thrive off the unknown. I love not knowing what is going to happen next, and being the mastermind behind my next move. I become inspired through travel, and most of my best writing comes through travel. I get to test my courage, independence, and become a better person with each passing day, on my watch. To me it is complete and ultimate freedom.