I’ve started to inquire within about why I personally choose to travel, so I’ve also started to ask everyone I meet the same question. Why do you travel?
As you can imagine, I’ve heard all sorts of answers. There are some outliers here and there, but I typically get a version of one of three options: someone is running away from something (or someone), they are chasing after something (again, or someone), or they just want to see what the world offers.
At different points in my life, traveling has meant different things to me. When I studied abroad in college, I was still on the because-that’s-what-everyone-does train. I subscribed to that shiz with a three-year auto-renewal contract, man. I loved drinking the Kool-Aid – I even spiked it – especially if that’s what the cool kids were doing—err, I mean drinking. Not to be a total cliché, but isn’t it [a. funny b. sad c. ironic or d. insert preferred word here] how we spend so much of our lives trying to be exactly like everyone else, and then we have that come-to-Jesus-moment, perform a complete 180, and work as hard as possible to stand out? But either way, it’s in the name of being seen and heard, amiright? I digress…
When I made the move to Aspen (to-date one of the most important decisions I’ve made) it was to get the heck out of Dodge, if you know what I mean. I grew up in Minnesota, I went to college in Minnesota, and I got (more like continued) a job in Minnesota post-grad. I was antsy as heck and I needed a change of scenery, so I applied for a job in a place I had never been to before and didn’t know a soul, and moved my life there.
Now I’ve found myself in New Zealand. I’m not running away from anything or anyone, and I’m not chasing after or searching for anything in particular, either. I guess you could say I chose to travel this time because I want to see the world – because yes, that’s true – but there’s more to it that I haven’t been able to put my thumb on until I started to really noodle it. And that “more” is what I’ve been working on putting into words. I have touched on this subject in previous posts in my travel journal, but that’s just surface-level material. This stuff is soul purpose GOLD. Something I can fiercely own and share with the world. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
It’s the people. Oh, the people. Since I’ve been in New Zealand, I’ve met countless humans from all over the world. Mostly Germans and Brits, because they seemingly comprise about 86% of the New Zealand backpacking population, but also people from Australia, Korea, China, France, Canada, Brazil, The Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, and more. It’s truly extraordinary, the fact that I came to a place not really knowing a soul and (almost) instantly felt like I was apart of something bigger than myself. And that I belonged. And that I was exactly where I needed to be. It is a truly beautiful thing – something far too many spend their entire lives trying to find. I have been so inspired, humbled and filled-to-the-brim with gratitude during my time in this extraordinary country filled with extraordinary human beings.
I like to meet people – but I l-o-v-e to connect with people, and oh man have I connected with so many different souls during this adventure. Not via email, not through text, and not by way of screens. Just up close and personal, quality face time. With lots of eye contact and big, hardy belly laughs. (Although I’ll take a Skype date or snail mail any day if I can’t physically be with someone!) I was really sad to leave beautiful, sunny Nelson this past week not because of the white sandy beaches or the mountains that surround the town (although those didn't suck), but because of the people I met at my hostel. I wasn't too keen on moving on - and honestly I'm still a little down about it - but I know that I'll meet even more rad people everywhere I go.
In my time in New Zealand, I have been in constant awe of peoples’ bravery, kindness, passion, compassion, creativity, hospitality, sense of adventure – you name it. The vulnerability that I’ve seen in others while I’ve been traveling has in turn given me the strength I needed to address my own issues with vulnerability and the courage to identify and own them for the sake of cultivating real, authentic connection. Talk about putting yourself out there, man. How scary! But people are doing it all the time, every damn day. All these people – so many on a solo journey – out in the world, rocking their awesome and doing big thaaangs. How freaking COOL, yeah?!
Rather than looking at my vulnerability – such a raw, crucial, and utterly unavoidable human emotion whether we like to believe it or not – as a liability or weakness, I’ve come to see it as an opportunity, a gift. When I allow myself to be daring enough (can you tell I'm a Brene Brown fan yet?) to open myself up to another person and share a part of myself with them – in any way, even a simple hello – I’m making magic. I know, I know, but I’m not sorry. As cheesy as it may be, I stand by my decision of what I just said – it’s pure magic. And each and every time I meet someone new – whether we make small talk or we really dig in and get to know each other – I am reminded that at the end of the day, we’re all more alike than we are different, which is so easy to forget in this big, crazy, wild world we live in.
When we start to recognize and focus on the similarities rather than the differences, that’s when shit gets real. That’s when friendships, big ideas, collaborations, and communities are formed. And from the collective of goodies created when people from every corner of the world, all walks of life come together, that right there is not only magic, but just so fucking cool. Excuse my language. Moral of the story: I like to travel because connecting with other people is - I'm going to revert back to my sixth grade self - really, really cool and fun. Simple as that.
But enough about me and why I travel, I want to know more about why YOU travel, whatever the reason. So, let’s hear it you guys. What inspires you to travel and wander the world? I’d love to know. Let’s get this conversation started! Feel free to use the comments section below.
Stay curious, stay wild, and never stop exploring.
[P.S. if you ever have any questions or would like to chat about traveling solo, exploring New Zealand, or anything else I've blabbed about on my blog please reach out. I would be more than happy to share my experiences and knowledge with you. I mean it.]