Why do I travel? The ultimate unanswerable question. . .
I travel for that feeling, the feeling you get when you walk out of the airport, taxi, train. Whether it’s the heavy humidity lapping at your temples, or the rush of nerves at the recognition of a lack of familiarity. I love that. I am not what I would pin down as the assumed ‘traveller’ stereotype. I am not an entirely relaxed, go with the flow kind of girl, in fact I love structure, order, planning. Yet it is breaking that routine and forcing myself out of my soapy bubble of comfort when I truly feel alive. I know this sounds like a god awful advert for Thomas holidays or something but it is the truth and my truth.
‘Travelling’ is an extremely broad term, people can ‘travel’ to the Caribbean and stay at a five star resort. Yet I observe travel as an adventure, an exploration not just of a country but of myself. When you travel, I believe it is an opportunity to push and test yourself, to meet new people, to expand your mind-set.
An example; I get hot. I’m not just one of those people who go a pinkish tinge in the sun. Nope. My body just can’t handle the heat, I turn into this sweaty, crimson, panting mess. So when I go to hot countries, I obviously struggle slightly. Yet (slightly alarmingly for some) I honestly thrive on it. When I volunteered in Tanzania, we had to do manual labour in the parching, throbbing heat of the midday sun. Pickaxing rock ridden, bone dry soil is hard work for someone who has as much muscle mass as a small flea. Yet as we were working hard, the pain was a reminder of why I was digging. The children at the Himo-Korona school had one meal a day consisting of rice — no vegetables or fruit in sight. So we were digging holes to plant fruit trees so they could get some nutrients into their limited diets. My pain was a reminder of what they must feel every single day, these young children finish a long day of school and immediately have to walk and fetch water, or complete long arduous chores, all fuelled by one tiny meal a day. My ostensible pain was a pin prick compared to their plight.
I’ve travelled far for my youth, and experiencing different ways of life from the Iban tribe in the dense Borneo rainforest to the tight knit families in Tanzania has helped me grow into the person I am today. Travelling allowed my mind to open up to the world of empathy. When I came back from my longest, hardest, best travel to Tanzania I honestly looked at the world differently. When I walked into my bedroom at home I expected to be happy yet I was disgusted. It was the size of my host-family’s entire home. Why was I granted such luck, such good fortune when my students in Tanzania couldn’t even afford a new pencil, they had to use a splintered stub to complete their homework. Yet I had to comprehend that there is no use feeling bad, or guilty about privilege as ultimately what is that going to do? Travelling taught me that it is how you act that matters.
So I set up a charity with people on my trip called The HK Project (http://thehkproject.wix.com/site) and I opened my mind to the world of volunteering. Now I have realised that even when I am not travelling I can still help people. I’ve begun an array of volunteering, I work weekly at Riding for the Disabled, Alzheimer’s Society and teaching children to read in a local school. I have honestly never been happier, I love helping people and making that slight difference in someone’s day. I am privileged now not just in what I have but in what I do. I have seen how when that child gets on a horse you can observe this calm, this change overcome them, or how a dementia sufferers eyes light up just from the sheer simplicity of conversation.
I see travelling as a window, an opportunity to discover parts of yourself you have never understood. Observing the beauty in different dialects, cultures and land has been for me, enlightening. So I guess this is me answering the question, this is why I travel. To understand people more and to understand myself more.
There is no feeling quite as daunting yet quite as peaceful as travel.
Seventeen, London. “I have recently started up a travel blog in the midst of probably the most important exams of my life, logic. But I can’t escape my true passion of writing, travelling and volunteering. I hope you enjoy the brief insight into my messy brain.”
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