Recently I read a blog called ‘How travel killed my ambition‘ by another travel blogger and it made me stop and think, how I have changed since travelling. You always read conflicting blogs, where some would say that travelling has completely changed them as a person and their perspective whereas others would say it’s a load of nonsense; that you go back to the same job and act like exactly the same person. Well… I initially thought I was the latter but as I focus on the subject more, I’ve realised that I am different from the person who left England two and a half years ago. I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s such a long time or I’m generally changing with age or I haven’t gone back to my old life. However, I do think that if I just went travelling for six months, returned back to England, I would be a very similar person to how I left, adapting again to my surroundings and people around me.
Travelling is now my lifestyle and part of my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I thrive off meeting different people, constantly experiencing new cultures and places, as well as having challenges that go along with travelling. I love that no one day is the same and the excitement and adventure I feel not knowing what the next day will bring.
Let’s start with a bit of background about me: I was born and raised in England, got my teaching masters, worked a couple of years as a primary school teacher before deciding to pack up and start travelling. I had planned to be travelling for nine months. Over two and a half years later and I haven’t settled back in England, instead, carried on moving with my backpack to over 35 countries in 6 continents.
You might wonder how I afford to travel long term, read my blog to help you travel for longer.
As I reflect on the question ‘ How has travelling changed me?’, here are a few things that have changed since leaving England:
Travelling opens your eyes to world of new things; different people, cultures, music, architecture, foods, places and experiences. From seeing and being part of these things, my perspective on life has changed. I was quite closed minded; thinking money was the most important thing, holding on and letting past hurts rule my life and doing the things I was expected to do and follow the norms of life. Instead now for me, I think more like this: do things that make you happy; it’s important to stop, have a rest day and take a step back; appreciate every moment and the small things; do something that scares you every day; people will hurt you but just move on and focus on the people who want you in their lives. From travelling, I have become way more positive and content with my surroundings, not having the stresses I used to have.
I’m one of these type of people who loves learning and gaining new knowledge (even though I am also forgetful so I don’t remember a lot). However, travelling has given me the opportunity to visit many countries, where I have learnt about a country’s history and how the past has evolved them to the country they are today. As I grew up, I was taken to many museums and castles, but at the time I didn’t enjoy them or appreciate them. However, having the freedom to do what I like in different places, I’ve ended up going to different museums and tours finding out about the history. Not only have I found it interesting but I have learnt so much that wasn’t taught to me. Being in that country with the artefacts, photos and information, my knowledge has grown.
Awareness of the world
I think people who don’t travel and stay in their own bubble, are not really aware of what goes on the world. Yes, there is the media but often this is one sided or a smaller country’s news is not shown or people just aren’t interested. By travelling, I have become aware of what happens in different pockets of the world and how others live. For example, when I was volunteering in Zimbabwe, I was first shocked with the way they live as majority of the people’s don’t have jobs; families are squashed in a one-room hut to live; they eat the same food everyday; it’s common for people to be kidnapped or killed and if parents can’t afford education, their children can’t go to school. All of which, broke my heart. This as well as travelling to other countries have made me become more aware of the different things happening in the world.
Since leaving the UK, I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. As I travel solo majority of the time, I have had to have the confidence to make friends, ask when I don’t know the answer, speak a new language, believe in myself and know that the world is literally my oyster. I still have those times when I am shy or feel a little apprehensive about what is about to happen. However, I know now that I am able to conquer anything; face challenges and thrive from them; and feel confident in my actions, abilities and appearance.
When I was younger, much like the article I read, I always thought that my career was the most important thing in life. I was expected by society to do well at school, jumping through hoops to move onto the next stage in life until I reached a well-paid job then climb up the ladder within that job. And this is exactly what I did: I mostly tried my hardest in school and college, getting into university and completing my degree with a high grade then doing a master to get my qualified teaching status. I started working in a school but realised I didn’t want to be stuck in one place forever. For some people, this is their drive and a way at the end of their life to feel that they were fulfilled. For me, travelling has changed my focus and my ambition from being successful in my job. Obviously I work around the world and I’m fortunate enough to love my job but there is more to life than my career.
Before travelling, I always thought I was thankful for things and people. However, it was more the bigger things but now I appreciate the little things like having running water; warm showers; my own room; certain foods; the ability to work; thoughtfulness of others; sharing experiences; stories and physical things; walking around at night on my own; communicating to friends and the people around me. When you don’t have these things, which I have experienced in certain places, it makes you so much appreciative.
Sense of calmness
In the UK before I became a traveller, I used to get stressed easily, worry about about all sorts and have a mind filled with thoughts. Now, I’m probably the least stressed and worried I’ve ever been. As part of travelling, you soon realised that things don’t go the way you expect: transport may be late or not turn up; possessions may be stolen; accommodation might be a state; plans are always changing; you meet different personalities etc. All these things, just make you adapt, not worry about the small things and not stressing over things out of your control. Does it matter which bed you sleep in? Or if the next bus is full? You will get there when you get there and there’s no point in worrying about it. Even in my jobs, I don’t panic like before. Things will go wrong and not go as planned. What if a lesson is just unsuccessful? Or a work activity has suddenly sprung up? Living within different cultures and travelling around, helps you learn to adapt and become less stressed.
Basically travelling has changed many aspects of my being and lifestyle, which I feel has turned me into a better person. Have you changed since travelling? Can you resonate with these? What other things have changed for you?