The Highs and Lows of Travel
Travel fucks with you. It really does.
Travelling makes you confront how lonely you truly are in this world. It unforgivably tosses you into some of the most uncomfortable of situations.
Like when you are in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road, making you beg for your life each time you cross. Or, when you’re sitting on a public toilet reaching out for paper, only to realise that it isn’t always provided. So, you end up sitting there half naked, pants scratching your ankles, as your self-hate grows exponentially.
The most painful situation, for me at least, is when a big plate of sizzling, fried fish is served to you because it is considered vegetarian. So, you’re left contemplating whether to eat it, fucking your morals and diet, just to be polite, as opposed to calling the waiter back to repeat that you’re vegetarian and consume absolutely no meat.
For a moment — in these uncomfortable situations — you become the most ignorant person in the world. At times, you’ll even have to relearn the basics of life, just to survive in a foreign country. But it is in these very moments that transformation begins to take place.
You start to open yourself up to new ways of living. They force you to appreciate the little things back home. Like being able to read the labels on cardboard packaging so you can wash your clothes with laundry powder, like a normal human being, instead of accidentally using actual washing-machine cleaner, like a moron. You appreciate the type of socket plug you have in the wall, which understands all your chargers, so you never worry about converters.
You understand that maybe you take your loved ones for granted. As they say, you never know what you have until it’s gone — you miss your family and friends while you are away, but you’ll cherish them that much more when you return.
Travel also gifts you with new relationships — ones that may linger in your heart forever. Perhaps it’s a beautiful someone you met and decided to spontaneously travel on with, or maybe that gelato man who brought you joy as he served you your fourth scoop for the day.
After a while, this new way of living becomes second nature. You get so used to the routine of how the foreign land operates, including having alien things down every street and in every store, and having different people around you.
You become so open to the world; you begin to grasp new ideas, make meaningful connections and learn so much more than you would have thought. You witness so many new things that make every fibre within your body explode with creativity, all the while dipping in and out of existential crises and self-development.
This, my friend, is where it gets ya — because to be completely anonymous in the world is an empowering feeling like no other.
When your travels come to an end, however, you get an unwelcome fear that you might never again experience that feeling of freedom and wonder. But now that you are older, wiser, more inspired and grateful, you beat this sad and spikey feeling by forcing yourself to believe that you will find it again, soon enough.
You believe this because you know first-hand, travel draws people the way the moon draws the tide. So, you surrender to this peace, knowing there are still so many more new opportunities and experiences that are sure to come.
A fair warning though: once your plane lands and you set foot back home, you’ll look like a right mess. Stomping through customs with your luggage and a heavy heart. But also, so much more. Because ultimately, travel shows you that in this great life, nothing is worth half-heartedly settling for. Yes, travel fucks with you, but in all the good ways. So, go chase the world.
Cover by Vin Stratton; inset of the author