Travel is one of the greatest pleasures of my life, not only am I a nomad at heart – unable to settle – I get this utter thrill from experiencing new places, from familiar third wave coffee shops to the most unfamiliar cultural customs. Flying to Tokyo tomorrow, I am sure to be stocking up on both.
Way back when, 18 years of age, I went on my first big trip (well, I had lived alone in Australia the year before, but that was another sort of experience). We (my travel companion and I) had scored Interrail tickets for the summer, and for thirty days we crossed Europe with only a backpack on our backs, and a fold-out map to rely on. No guidebook in sight. Although we did carry an old-school mobile phone we couldn’t afford to use. To my 30-something-self, looking back at that experience, it appears totally reckless, to such an extent I almost have trouble believing it actually happened. But not only are the stories real as day – being hustled in Tangier, and sleeping on Spanish beaches being chased by old men with sticks, were experiences that helped form me. Even if not realizing it at the time.
To this day, I still don’t like to plan (much), but I do my research and loads of it. Of course, there’s no way I can possibly get around to drinking at all the cafés and speakeasy’s; eating at all the michelin star restaurants and street food trucks, that I pin to my maps. And while, at times, the chase of getting through them all can cause me to stress out, instead of properly enjoying myself – at least I no longer waste time, or money, at those tourist sucking leeches that tends to pop-up at the exact same time as my rumbling tummy. You know that feeling, when your feet are aching, your vision is blurry, and you’ll settle for any free table in the closest 100 meter radius. Nine out of ten times, those are the worst. Better be prepared! I even had the most magnificent culinary experiences in Prague (a city not known for it’s foods, to put it mildly), just because I had done my homework.
Sometimes indulgence like this makes me nauseous, this obvious privilege of me. I studied International Development Studies to make the world a more just place, not so I could savour the grapes while others suffer, not having enough to eat. But after having encountered life’s darker sides myself, I am currently on a small quest for my own happiness. It might be selfish, I totally get that, but I have also discovered that I am no use to this world being down and out either. And travel, travel, it gives me this sense of freedom that is utterly thrilling. It gives me a sense of there always being something worth while around the next corner. And right now – that feeling, and that feeling alone, is the most precious thing I have – so I clinch on to it with all I’ve got. And while not having that stable job, relationship or any of those other things that makes people stay put, I instead have this time – right now – to do what I love the most, and I am not apologizing for it.