I travel to feel alive, to detach myself emotionally from what I see on TV, what I read online, what I experience every day. I travel to stop thinking.
I travel because I need to…because my wild, adventurous spirit can’t live according to the ‘norm’. I travel to regroup, to reinvent myself, to be the best I can be, to find joy in the ordinary and peace in exploring. I travel to be.
This is what I had last answered, when someone asked me ‘why I travel’ some time ago.
But then Patagonia happened.
I met a 75-year-old lady while in survival mode, trekking the W trek. The W trek is a must-do for trekkers, I’d been told. You must wonder why it’s so special. Think National Park, soaring mountain peaks, glaciers and ice fields, wilderness, and natural beauty. But on the flip side, winds blowing at 130 km/h, so strong that you had to crawl on the ground to keep going, sleepless nights in a tent due to torrential rain, blisters like you never had before and Snickers bars that had suddenly become the healthy recommended snack for energy drops, insect bites you could not count, 4 seasons in one day…should I continue?
The thing is, you don’t just decide to do the trek and go right for it. You train before. I wish I had known. I was pretty happy with my fitness level before I went there and suddenly I was facing the harsh reality that there was so much more training I should have done before going. I was not prepared at all. There was no way in the world I could finish the trail—was what I thought halfway.
But there she was, an inspiring lady walking with a smile, through rain and sun, which made me rethink everything. She told me that she had started trekking a long time ago. She said that it made her realize that in the end, everything is possible. She had simply made a deal with life agreeing that trekking would not just keep her fit, but sane as well. As long as she was healthy, and as long as her legs could carry her, not doing it was not an option. What do you answer to this?
Often I don’t do simple things out of tiredness. Or, I make excuses or postpone them. This beautiful encounter made me realize I had only myself to blame.
I realized that traveling was proving me wrong. It showed me that I am my own limit, that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. It was not about trusting life, but trusting myself.
So my definition of travel changed.
Long back, when I was a student, I travelled because I loved talking to people, openly, freely, asking where they are from, what their dreams are, and their fears. It made me realize that I was not alone. I was not the only one going through life’s constant questions and doubts.
Sometimes, work is overwhelming, handling way too many things at once and losing the motivation, the intention. And one day I realized: what if being successful and doing a job I like were great, but not my purpose? What if they were only a means to travel more?
What is ‘travel’ was my purpose?
The wilderness of Patagonia spurred this epiphany.
I simply felt blessed and grateful when I witnessed the Machu Picchu, my husband sitting at my side, speechless. It was more than enough.
I felt humble, and so lucky when I met local people. Their awe-inspiring attitude and living conditions were so different to mine, but still, they were curious to know all about me without judgment or expectation. I was their biggest adventure and I felt special.
That’s when I travelled because this was my purpose and once I realized this, everything was so much simpler.
Travel is my purpose because this is where fears disappear, doubts are nowhere to be found. I travel to be in the moment, to be totally happy without an agenda, and despite the challenges and a 130 km/h wind.
I travel because I like to finish what I start—like finishing the W trek and coming out stronger, after a week’s camping in no man’s land.
I travel not to prove anything to myself, but to explore myself deeply.
I travel to reflect upon where I am coming from and where I am today, with no mention of tomorrow.
So my advice to you is, travel more, each time you can.
You don’t even need a plane ticket.
Step out of your comfort zone, of what you think you know, and change your mindset.
Travel to prove yourself wrong, and do what you can’t.
The wilderness of Patagonia was a realization for me, but you don’t have to go that far [unless you are super fit :)]. You can ‘travel’ in your old neighborhood, talk to a stranger sitting close to you. Like the lady I met on the road, people may surprise you with the stories they have to tell and the adventures they have to share.
You may ‘travel’ for a moment, to a part of the city you don’t know, just because you heard of a cute café, or their unique breakfast.
You may travel for a night, just for the excitement of packing your favorite tote bag, getting on a bus and spending a night elsewhere.
You may travel for a weekend, to explore a new way of living…for a week, for one month, for 4 months on a sabbatical like I did, forever in your everyday life…
Just travel…and see where it takes you!
Share your most memorable travel story with me. I would love to hear from you.