Travel. There are endless things to love about the pauses in time when real life stops, temporarily, as we escape the mundane familiarity of day to day existence that’s work and relationships and the same sidewalks and cityscapes. Those times we break to climb mountains and watch Indian sunsets. Those days getting lost in the back roads of Slovenia. Roaming Parisian streets at day break when the soft light is just so in the white washed city. Or day after day island hopping in South East Asia, each beach better than the last. It’s no doubt that spending cents on this lifestyle is happiness rich, yet culminating in a less than impressive bank situation for most..
I say that, with the looming start of round two at uni and a graduation date somewhere in my early 30’s. I say that with minimal possessions and no real home. I say it with a certain deviation from my previous career plan that had me somewhere important by now, or so I’d hoped. And I say all of that with no single regret on how my life somehow has turned into an endless trail of destinations and adventures. At 26 I still can’t guarantee where I will be in 3 months time and I couldn’t be happier about it.
It is true what people and the endless throngs of half hearted inspirational and often identical internet articles say; ‘pack your bags, have an adventure’.
I did that. Not because I read an article that told me to. Not because I was fed up with my current state of life. I did that because because I finished the remains of a largely full bottle of pinot alone and found devastatingly cheap flights to India. It would have been a crime, if nothing else to not book them there and then in my somewhat less than rational state. So there I was, living in a beautiful city, working my dream job and residing in a house I loved; for 3 more months. I’d only booked for 6 weeks, but potentially sensed my inability to stop travelling, scattering my possessions to whomever would keep them safe until my return.
I spent 6 months away, accidentally so. After falling in love with India, I made a last minute decision at the airport check in to alter my flight, jumping off at my stopover in KL, rather than returning to Australia…I had no idea where I was going.
The next 5-ish months where a blur. I met people everyday and got caught up in there stories of the beautiful places they had been, making my way north up through Malaysia and into Thailand and Myanmar.
My last adventure started similarly to my first, although from memory the wine was swapped for rum. A late night booking had me headed to Amsterdam, venturing slowly to my new (brief) home of London. It was the Australians constant love of London that drew me there. The infectious, infatuated stories teasing me away from my sun drenched homeland. London life lasted 2 months. The disappointing reality of obscenely high rent, a constant lack of warmth and always definitely shit flat whites overrode any romantic notions I had of living in the Northern Hemisphere. So adventure yearned and a string of last minute bookings saw me dart across Europe in the most unconventional of fashions.
Travel doesn’t have to be planned. You don’t need to know where your going; it’s true that you just simply go. It won’t be the Lonely Planet trail of recommendations that hold as everlasting memories, but the haphazard moments of being stuck in a storm as darkness descends in Iceland with no idea where idea the next hostel is and almost no petrol in the car. It will be waiting endlessly at a dustbowl bus station in India alone for the bus that turns up 3 hours late, an unknown destination scribbled in Hindi as the only indication where you might end up. It will be desperately trying to find the right train to ‘somewhere’ in Myanmar at midnight, a train which procedes to rattle of the tracks and you become almost certain you will be the next tourist in a tragic train accident abroad.
Travel isn’t meant to be clean, neat and easy. It’s not just the good times, but also the bad that make the adventure. It’s those that you share the memories with, and knowing that those 2 days of which you quickly became best friends are immediately gone as you part ways and being completely okay with that. It’s the uncomfortable beds, the overnight busses and missed flights. The food poisoning and too much pasta. It’s the stories. The memories and the everlasting desire to do it all again. And importantly the ridiculously cheap rum.
Sometimes I wish I’d spent my money wisely. Now I struggle to see the value in putting all your money to seeing the same patch of land day after day after day when you could be constantly engaged by new landscapes, new sunsets and new people. Where moments are both temporary and beautiful, yet somehow everlasting.