Everyone has different priorities – saving for a boat, paying off the mortgage, shopping… Mine is travel. Whether it’s the islands of Greece, the forests of Western Australian, the highlands of Scotland, or the street tables of Vietnam – I’m in. Although I haven’t, in fact, been around the world, I have spent a lot of time and effort (and money) getting myself to various corners of our little planet and I’ve had innumerable experiences that couldn’t have happened if I didn’t own a passport.
Getting off the plane in Zurich last week, seeing signs in languages I don’t understand and facing the prospect of ten days on the road made my stomach flip with excitement. It also brought to mind the following excerpt sent to me many years ago by a very good friend (who I met because of her decision to travel):
We need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown our senses dull, our world becomes small, and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to our horizon, our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. Our experience is restricted, as we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and we find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances a traveller has to take. But if you take them you will never regret your choice.
Sure, there are moments of doubt when you stand alone, on an empty road, in icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But, as the pains will come, so to will they fall away. In the end, you will be so much stronger, so much clearer, and a so much happier person, that all the risk and hardship you have endured will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge you have gained, and the life you have lived.
-Kent Newburn ‘Letters to my Son’
I hope that this passage rings true for those who have been down to their last penny, struggled with illness in a foreign land or done manual labour on a rural farm for little pay; who haved shared a laugh with a complete stranger on a bus that ran four hours behind schedule, spent hours on an overcrowded train through the mountains or crammed themselves and their backpack into a tuktuk; who have woken at dawn for an ANZAC Day service or danced under the stars at a Full Moon Party on Hat Rin; who have shivered through a northern winter, sweltered under the heat of tropical sun or shrieked with surprise after jumping into the freezing cold Adriatic Sea.
To those who haven’t shared any of those experiences (or other similar ones) – what are you waiting for?