August 3, 2019

How to be a Traveller All of the Time.


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I love who I am when I travel.

I’m more myself, more carefree.

It was a Sunday evening, and I was sitting in a dingy pub in South Dublin with a Guinness and an empty plate of sweet potato fries. I took out my travel notebook—black, moleskin—and flipped through the pages of travel days past.

As I read through, I noticed the same line scribbled at the start of each journal entry: I feel like I am myself again.

Something about home makes me feel trapped. Whether that’s trapped by commitments and competing priorities, or trapped by the person I feel I have to be when I’m in this normal routine. Or whether I feel trapped by a society that pressures me to live in line with Western values—be healthy, be fit, go to bed on time, work this kind of job, achieve this one kind of success, do and don’t talk about certain things.

When I am away from all that, I feel empowered to make choices that fit the kind of life I want to have and the kind of person I want to be.

But, I realized something. I can’t continue to run away and expect my life to change. The onus is not on the external world to adjust to my way of living—the onus is on me.

I am on a different kind of trip this time around; I’ve moved my life halfway across the world to live in a city where no one knows me and where I know no one. This idea doesn’t scare me, but in fact, the opposite: I am, for the first time in a long while, full of excitement for all the possibilities that life has to offer.

As I sat in that dingy pub, I wondered, how could I learn to “be myself” and enjoy all the aspects of travel while also settling down somewhere, away from home? When I think about the parts of travel that I love, I know that they are things I can incorporate into my everyday life regardless of where I am.

These are the things I want to embody, each and every day—no matter where I am:

Say yes to opportunities that arise (even if you have work the next day). Back home, I often turned down possible plans and dates because I was worried I’d be tired the next day, or because I needed to save money. Sure, these things are important to think about (we’ll burn out if we go out every night and we don’t want to spend what we don’t have), but we need to learn how to enjoy our lives too.

See the world through childlike eyes.
When we travel, we are experiencing the world as if we’re seeing it for the first time. We look at basic things with this wonder that brings so much more fullness and joy to our lives. When we’re at home and stuck in routine, we forget to look for the beauty in the little things. I want to walk through my days as if I was always a tourist—reminding myself of the things that made me want to live here in the first place.

Do things alone.
As a solo traveler, aloneness doesn’t scare me. I go to pubs alone, I eat out alone, I go to events alone, museums, art galleries. When I was at home, I often held myself back if I didn’t have anyone to do things with. If my friends were busy, I would sometimes pout and feel sorry for myself, This sucks, everyone is busy and I have nothing to do this weekend. Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Go out and live the life you want, with or without a companion. I want to date myself, and fall in love with my life all over again.

I like who I am away from home. I like who I am when I’m in a new city, soaking in all it has to offer and remembering that—yes, life has its stresses, but life is also meant to be lived.

I know when we’re travelling, there’s a certain amount of freedom that we just don’t have when we’re at home—friends who depend on us, families, rent or mortgages to pay, jobs to go to—but I do believe that if we could all incorporate the traveller’s mindset even just a little bit, we’d all be a whole lot happier.


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