Travel is the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.
Not so long ago I was sitting, stagnantly, in my own life. I had nearly everything I was supposed to want. I wasn’t unhappy per se — but I was bored (and I was boring.) That’s almost worse than being sad. I wasn’t an active participant in my own life.
The only time I felt really, truly alive was the few weeks a year I visited friends out of the country. There was the way I wanted to feel about life. There was the girl I knew I wanted to be. That was my authentic self.
Was that girl real? Or was she merely escaping, thriving in an unsustainable lifestyle? The quest to merge the travel lifestyle with the life I want at home is how Part-Time Traveler was born.
It’s a funny thing, waking up every day, working hard and hustling to make things happen — but also arriving at some understanding that life works in mysterious ways that we often can’t control. The journey unfolds in ways we might not anticipate, and cannot plan for or work towards. Some would label it individual agency versus destiny, others effort versus surrender.
I’ve hinted about the massive life changes I went through just about a year ago. About getting hit by a ton of bricks after my breakup, though I expected it. About moving back in with my parents, though I never expected it. I think I’m almost ready to write about them here.
For now, I’m reflecting on the many gifts travel has given me. So many travel blogs focus on the important ‘how’ questions behind travel…I want to focus on why we travel. I’m sharing so that you might embark upon your own journey and receive the same.
Made me feel small…then pushed me to grow and stand taller.
Gave me perspective — on the lives of others, and on my life….past, present, future.
Changed how I interact with others. Made me friendlier, kinder, more trusting.
Helped me learn the value of experiences over things.
Deepened my appreciation for diversity and affirmed my belief in tolerance.
Opened me up to embrace new experiences, at home and abroad.
Restored my self confidence.
Sparked a flame of curiosity, wonder, and excitement that I carry with me at home.
Gave me the ‘a-ha’ that I don’t have to live like everyone else.
Brought new flavors into my life (both literal and figurative.) Gave me new cravings.
Helped me realize that my appearance doesn’t define me.
Helped me learn the difference between expectation and hope.
Allowed me to confront and overcome my fears.
Affirmed the power of our own intuition.
Granted me the space and mindfulness to realize my significant other wasn’t right for me.
Restored my health — mentally, physically, and spiritually — when I had lost my way a bit in all three.
Helped me see that we can start over again when we need to, no matter the limitations we perceive.
Made me unapologetic about pursuing my passions.
Made me realize we don’t have to accept being unhappy, uninspired or “lost.”
Let me know that it’s possible to almost love a place as much as you love a person.
Helped me live in the present.
Made me less restless.
Made me more restless.
Illuminated…that so much is possible.
I don’t travel as much these days — because now I’m standing, walking, even dancing in my life. I know that if I start to passively sit and watch the days pass by, if I begin to feel like I’m living someone else’s life and not my own…I can turn to travel like an old friend. I can trust travel will get me back on my feet and skipping down the right road again (if there is such a thing.)
Don’t idly by as years pass without you taking your vacation days. Don’t refuse the chance to challenge yourself and chase a dream on a false perception of security. Take risks knowing that though you might fall, it is the only way you can fly. Don’t be paralyzed by fear.
Perhaps finding this is the greatest gift travel has given me.
Like a moth to an old flame, I’m headed to Guatemala today. I don’t know what I will see, who I will meet, what adventures await…but I know it’ll expand my view of the world, and of my true self.
What has travel given to you?