You’ve heard it all before. You should travel because you’ll have new experiences and you’ll meet amazing new people. You should travel because you’ll pet a drugged up tiger in Thailand and it’ll “change your life”. Blah blah blah. You’ve heard it so many times before it’s become cliche. Its expected. Its boring. I think we’ve found some unexpected reasons to travel, that are infinitely more interesting.
We’ve been travelling for a while now, and found that while the boring reasons are true (maybe not the tiger), they’re not our favourite reasons to travel. Our favourites are the unexpected reasons to travel – the ones we didnt see coming.
You’ll Learn What’s Important to you
They say you don’t know how you really feel about something until it’s gone. When you travel, and you’re away from everyone and everything you know, you realise this is true. Even after a few months away from home, I feel like I can put everything I know either into a first bucket labelled ‘this matters’ or a second bucket labelled ‘this doesn’t matter’. Realise that you only miss the things you care about.
For example, my family and food (not sorry) fills up a massive amount of the first bucket (I’m writing this close to Christmas). Surprisingly, Newcastle United takes up a pretty large chunk too. Running a business is in my bucket too.
In the second bucket is weightlifting. I thought I loved this at home, but I actually don’t miss it at all. Nights out are in this bucket too. Yeah we’ve been on one or two here, but not once have I thought ‘man I really miss getting plastered and dancing to Pitbull.’
If you’re not sure what you really care about, travel for a while and leave everything behind. You’ll soon realise what you miss and what you don’t.
You’ll Learn Tolerance
One of the really unexpected reasons to travel for me. If you’ve talked to anyone who has ever travelled long term, they’ll tell you that they met the best people. True, you’ll make some great friends, but you’ll also meet some really bad people.
You’ll meet mean people, arrogant people (this is a huge one) and even smelly people. Perhaps most poignant though, is that you’ll mostly meet people who are very different from you. When travelling, if you ever want to talk to anyone ever, you have to learn to tolerate people who are different from you. They’ve got different perspectives, backgrounds and motivations.
Before I came travelling, I probably would have been quick to dismiss someone who I thought of as arrogant. Now I see them all the time. I’m starting to understand that a lot of people come travelling to be a better person. Sure, they’re arrogant and a bit of a so and so now. But what about in a years time when they’ve seen the slums of Mumbai and volunteered for 6 weeks in a school in cambodia?
I’m learning not to dismiss someone who is on the right path. Tolerate them, help them if you can.
Travelling is really freaking challenging. I had no idea. For me, of the three unexpected reasons to travel I’ve written about, this is the most important. I’ve written about some of the realities of travelling before, but I think it’s important to hammer home that it is actually hard.
And here’s the thing. That’s good. That’s what you should want.
Most travel instagrammers and travel bloggers lie. It’s a facade. And hey, I get it. They want to inspire people to travel. You can’t do that if you tell everyone that between your instagram shoot today, you were leaking from both ends into what can only be described as a festering hole in the woods.
Everyday there’s a new challenge. Mary’s challenge today is trying to figure out how to stop the kids shes teaching from hugging her every two minutes. Whereas a few days ago, our challenge was how to find our way home in the dark whilst being chased by a pack of dogs. Both worthy challenges to overcome.
There are unexpected reasons to travel all around. You’ll smile more and you’ll learn gratitude for instance. But these are three that I’ve been thinking about most lately.
You simply cannot travel without getting better at overcoming challenges. Are you finding it hard? Good, that means you live in the real world.