13 Reasons Why We Travel
Choose to Live! [...] Life is a pretty spectacular thing – Clay Jensen
Early in 2019, the third season of the tv-series 13 Reasons Why came out. At that time, I was having a blast living in Mexico, working at the bar of a hostel. I had come such a long way since the show had premiered. I had won. And the reward was life. So, I posted on Instagram a 13 reasons why to travel-post, where I wrote down the most important reasons from the people I encountered while working in the bar, and those I worked with. The response to this was incredibly positive.
When the first two seasons of 13 Reasons Why came out, I was too sick to be able to watch it. Since then, I have won over my suffering. I won because I got the help I needed, and it led me to discover what fulfilled my desires as a human being; the life of a wanderer. Last year my dear friend Esteban Lionel gave me his biggest reason for traveling; Because the most beautiful thing about traveling is to know that you are alive, and this is so very true! This year, I have asked my very good friend, Lizzy Sallos, that I’ve gotten to know here in Australia, to help me out formulate our reasons for why we travel, how we choose to live our life.
To get outside my comfort zone
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – I would be willing to bet you’ve heard that phrase at some point before, whether it was from some hippy-dippy backpacker who won’t shut up about their gap year, or printed on a travel journal. Although the quotation has become an over-utilized cliché, there is a reason why it is such a common phrase in the travel community - it’s true! Removing yourself from your familiar settings and community can serve as the spark that starts the fire for many when it comes to making positive changes in their lives. Perhaps after experiencing the freedom that comes from exploring a new place, people gain the confidence to create the same sort of atmosphere in their daily life; one which involves challenges such as talking to strangers, navigating a transit system in a language that is not your own, or familiarizing oneself with a new grocery store. Once you return home, you might unconsciously find yourself taking small steps out of your comfort zone just in your daily life!
To meet new people from all over the world
As a self-declared “people person”, one of the most attractive parts of travel to me is the social aspect. I find it hard to think of another circumstance that lends itself better to make friends than when you have just checked into a hostel in a busy city, with numerous fellow travelers, who are also scoping the room for somebody to spark a conversation with. Especially if you are brave enough to travel solo, it is comforting to know that you are not the only one who is looking for some human connection! It’s truly a unique experience to be able to say you met some of your closest friends because you said hi while having a smoke or because you were cooking dinner in the hostel kitchen at the same time. In regular life, it can feel like people are not as open to expanding their circle, but backpackers are always looking to make friends they can go visit on future trips!
To make memories for when I am old
Often I find myself daydreaming about the future, wondering what sort of circumstances I will find myself in at various ages - “where will I be on my fiftieth birthday?” Those thoughts can only go so far, as it seems to be impossible for me to predict at this point. However, something I know for sure is that the older I get, the more I will be reminiscing on the past. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to look back on times when I was young, free, and lived life to the fullest!
So that I have something to look forward to
Travelling can serve as somewhat of an escape from the mundane parts of the day to day life. While one is putting their nose to the grindstone at their 9-5, planning to take a trip can serve as great motivation to save your money and live a simple life. I have often found myself in seemingly “in-between” periods of life when I am working to save money for my next trip. In those times, I try to live somewhere that is not too expensive, reduce my bills as much as possible, keep my impulse spending to a minimum, and deposit all extra funds into my savings account. The love of travel and the zest for life it gives me is my biggest motivation while I am working.
I feel most myself when I am traveling
There is something about touching down on a continent you have never been to before, all by yourself, that really strips you of any ego you had previously. Any sort of front you were putting on at home - forcing yourself into a grueling desk job because it pays the bills when you would rather be doing anything else, keeping up appearances for friends or family, any of the soul-sucking circumstances you generally find yourself in - all fades away once your adventure begins. All that matters is the loose agenda you have in your head and the map in your hand. Because of this, I find it impossible to be anything other than my authentic self. There’s not even a point in resisting it.
It is something I can justify saving up for, as it is not about materialism
Here’s another cliché for you - “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”. I know, I’m rolling my eyes too. I think I can speak for many travelers when I say that this lifestyle comes with unique sacrifices. While having brand new ski gear or the latest technology can be tempting, it’s important to keep in mind how much more you will appreciate that nice chunk of cash once you are across the world by yourself! Furthermore, traveling the world benefits you as a person in a way that no material object can.
To learn new things about myself and grow as a human being
For me, the greatest, most challenging, but also the most interesting journey happens within myself. From the moment you leave your home country, you are on your own and you are solely responsible for yourself. This is a unique opportunity to get to know yourself as if you were your own best friend. What do you need in different situations and circumstances? You get to know your reactions and why you have them. You will discover the values that you hold on to no matter where you go, and the morals you follow in any situation. It is a journey towards discovering the definition of your identity, and the self-confidence that comes with it.
So that I can experience freedom
Picture this: You are far away from home, you have no obligations, no pressure put on you aside from what you put upon yourself, no responsibilities besides self-care, no restrictions on where to go or what to do. “The world lies before your feet”, they say, and yes, it really does. It can be hard to feel this sort of radical liberation in everyday life. However, I think that a massive benefit from going on a trip across the world alone is that it alters your mindset into taking more control over your life, even during the “boring” parts. Suddenly concepts like where to get coffee or which bus to catch hold so much weight because you are only focussed on the present moment. Once you return home, that feeling of self-determination doesn’t fade. Hopefully, it will catapult you into making more big decisions, taking larger risks, and chasing your happiness!
It’s only your own restrictions that limit your freedom, and the truth is that you are in control! To feel free gives you the gift of perspective on all the opportunities there are in alignment with your goals. It opens your eyes to how much the world has to offer you, and how much you have to offer the world.
To gain a new perspective on life and it’s meaning
After living my entire life centered around school, having more or less the same routines, with the same things I did in my spare time, the same people around me, I truly had no clue what more was out there. We all hear stories about and from people that have traveled, it’s on television, the internet, and in movies. But until you see it and experience it for yourself, you truly don’t know what it’s really going to be like. Once many people get a taste of what this lifestyle has to offer, they get hooked. And the reason is simple; life is good, and it’s meaning is only that it deserves to be lived to its fullest.
To become a better global citizen
When you are traveling far away from home, it is nearly impossible to avoid the question “where are you from?” It is interesting to hear the response when you tell people your citizenship (for example, being Canadian I am often met with a joke about the cold or a gentle poke at how I say the word “sorry”), and maybe even more fascinating to dissect your own biases about others’ home countries. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to find yourself in a group where not two people originate from the same place. Naturally you start comparing your lifestyles back home, what sort of foods you eat, what activities you can do in your hometown, how you grew up. It makes you realize how similar we all are at our core, and that despite our initial expectations or stereotypes, there is a commonality and connection between us all as members of the human race. As well, knowing somebody personally who lives in a different country than you is all the more reason to go visit that place and see all the beauty there for yourself!
To be exposed to things that I would never be able to experience at home
A phrase that I often repeat to myself when I am traveling is: “Do the thing you are meant to do in the place where you are meant to do it.” This can mean drinking a beer at Oktoberfest in Germany, camping in the bush with a swag in Australia, or eating escargot and frog legs in France. Yes, these can be stereotypical experiences to have, but sometimes that is why you have to do them! However, I recommend that you do not just follow a guide book! Some of the most valuable information and connections you can build while traveling is with the local people where you are visiting. They will be the ones who can show you the secret beach spot, help you learn their language, tell you stories about the area, and their experiences there. These conversations are often the most memorable because they are the ones that remind you just how far you are from home and how different this place is to what you know.
To fall in love
Love in itself is a privilege. The feeling of love is a privilege. You can know you love someone or something, but to really feel its presence in your heart, mind, and body, is something that is unique every time. We don’t really have the time to love properly in our daily lives, not people or situations. Our minds are often everywhere else than in the present. It is in the present, and only there, that you will be able to both feel and give love the most. As Jessica Davis said so perfectly; “It’s easy to hate. It’s easy to fear. But it’s goddamn hard to love”. Out in the world, in the intense situation of meeting new human beings all the time, many of the fellow travelers who are also seeking connections, love is everywhere! You get attention as much as you give it, and together love and happiness are being made.
I can’t help it, I just have to!
Lizzy: A couple of years ago while I lived in France, I visited Santorini, an island in Greece that had been on the top of my travel list since I was a young teenager. It didn’t turn out exactly as I was expecting. The weather didn’t cooperate, it was off-season for tourism so most storefronts were shut, and lastly, it’s an extremely romantic place (people go there for honeymoons for a reason!), but I chose to go alone. Still, I made a friend from New Zealand who was also staying at my (fairly deserted) hostel, and we decided to explore together. It was him who finally put into words the thing I had been feeling through all my adolescent years. He talked about his “itchy soul” and how even in the best of times, there was always the thought in the back of his head that he should just scrap the whole thing and run away to travel. He also gave me the advice, “If you’re not happy, change it”, and that has become one of the most powerful mantras I hold onto.
I realized that I was part of this unique group of people - the backpackers, the travelers, the nomads, the ones who look at a map and see it as an opportunity instead of a source of fear for the unknown. It all made sense suddenly - I don’t travel just because I want to or because I enjoy it. I travel because I need to. It’s part of who I am as a person.
Everything in life is a choice, even when you feel like you don’t have any options. So make the choice to live in a way that is right for you! Lizzy and I appreciate the gift of life through our travels, but maybe it’s different for you. If that’s the case, then I encourage you to figure out what enriches your life, and where you can flourish and grow as a person. Life can be a pretty spectacular thing when you have a forward-thinking perspective. And on your way to your destination, remember to “Love each other. But do it better. Now and every day”.