Over the time I’ve been away I’ve been pondering the things that I think are great about travelling.
The main one is time. Having loads of it. It’s not until I started travelling that I realised how much time is taken up by work, having a house and other general life stuff. Although, I’m a person that generally likes to be busy. It’s not that I can’t be (remember my 10 day silent retreat in India?) but it’s just how I like my life. So, when you have all the time in the world, sometimes it’s hard to fill it, or feel guilty at just having so much time to relax. But, it’s something I know is precious, and I know I’m lucky to have the chance to experience it, so I’m making the most of it while I have it.
Then of course there’s the obvious. No having to work! No having to get up at a certain time every day and put on those clothes that define you as being part of the corporate rat race. No having to deal with office life, politics or just the mundane day-to-day. No bits of challenging stuff to think about or have to deal with and no stuff to get stressed over. OK, granted, travel brings it’s own challenges and stresses but, well, they just don’t feel like work. Oh, and yes, no work does also mean no money but can’t have one without the other…!
So no work generally means no routine, as I guess so much of daily life is structured around work. What time you get up, what time you have your lunch, what time you go home etc. Travelling means you can pretty much do what you want when you want. All the time. Maybe not when there is a bus/plane/rickshaw to catch, or an event to go see though ;)
One of the best things for me is to not have an alarm clock. I can probably count on one hand (OK, maybe two) the amount of times I’ve had to set my alarm. The rest of the time, I just wake up when I wake up. Do not underestimate how great this is. It means that generally, even if I’ve had a crappy nights sleep (which, is most nights – I can’t actually remember the last night that I slept the whole way through without waking up) I wake up feeling quite refreshed, and don’t really get that mega-tired feeling during the day. Must be because I don’t wake up during a deep sleep cycle. And of course hand in hand with this is the fact that when travelling, you can always have an afternoon nap if you want (circumstances permitting). Not that I do very often, but every now and then, usually after either a night out or a particularly shit nights sleep.
Freedom and flexibility. When you travel you have it in spades. Especially when travelling alone. If I want to do something, I do it. If I want to change my plans, I do it. If I want to spend all day surfing the internet eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon then I can do it.*
Doing/seeing/experiencing Cool Stuff. Well, goes without saying really. And by this I mean generally everything. The sights, the people and the little things. Pretty much everything is Cool Stuff when you’re travelling. You have time to really see and experience it all. So, from the big sights like the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal, to the people watching in a coffee shop in suburban Melbourne. Or the cooking with a local family in India, and experiencing life with a local family in rural Zambia.
The people. I can’t not mention the people, because that’s made a lot of my trip. All the people I’ve met along the way. From the brief encounters to the friendships made, they’re all great. Even just people watching. Watching how they interact with each other, watching how real life is lived right in front of your eyes. I think I’m a naturally chatty people person, so for me it’s been awesome to meet all these wonderful people and see what life is like in so many different places. It’s opened up my mind and I’ve seen how other people live, which has inspired me and made me think about how I want to live my life. And yes, it’s not quite the same as before.
And last for now, but not least, there’s the education. I’ve learnt so much in these last 9 months than I have over god knows how many years before. About so many different things. About history, war, culture, religion, countries and people. About myself, who I am, how I deal with things and how I view life. I’ve learnt about life and living in general, sport, nature, children, kindness and generosity. Whoever said that travel was the best life education was spot on. At least for me. I could never have learnt these things from books or TV or the internet.
There’s probably loads more great things, in fact I know there is, but these the main ones on my mind right now. I really didn’t know what to expect when I started my trip. I’d read travel blogs, and read posts similar to what I’ve just written, but it’s hard to relate if you hadn’t done it yourself. And now I have. And now I agree. But everyone will be different.
And yes, of course there are downsides to travel. It can be stressful and a hassle. Busy and exhausting. Hot and grubby. There are times when I miss home, friends and family. But they’re few and far between. The great things rule above all.
I wouldn’t change this experience for the world. I can safely say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve only got a couple of months left now, and I’m going to make the most of it. Make the most of all these great things.
But one last thing. By writing all the above, I don’t mean that there aren’t great things about not travelling. Life, however it is lived, is by it’s very nature, great. So, when I get back and settle in one place once again, I still will have a life filled with Great Things. They might not be the same, but I know that however I live my life, it will be awesome. Because I will make it so.
*Not that this actually happened, oh no