I always knew I wanted to travel.
I boarded my first International flight alone at the age of fifteen to go to Italy on a two month student exchange program. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, though I was so nervous that I imagined leaving the gate and sprinting to find my mother, then apologising profusely but I just can’t go. Instead, I held back the tears – except for the first two which had fallen rebelliously – and boarded the plane.
This was the start of my father’s grey hair. It was also the start of my life as a Solo Traveller. I join the odd group, tag along on day trips, and occasionally find a friend who helps balance out the cost of travel (which tends to have extra charges when you’re Alone).
I always knew I wanted to travel. It’s one of my “forgotten loves” because I do it so often that it has simply become a part of my life. Some people move countries for their careers. Some people move countries because they have no choice. Some people move countries for love. In a way, that’s what I did. I moved to another country purely for the purpose of travel. I have travelled with a backpack on a budget and I have travelled with a suitcase and private car. I spend time and money travelling because it’s one of the things I love.
It is often said that it takes courage to do what you love. Travel is one of my loves, and some days I am surprised to realise that it took great courage not to run back to my mother when I was fifteen, just as it still takes courage to arrive in a new country Alone and not spend the entire time hiding in the hotel for fear of getting lost. I have been told that I have a life others want. I am often asked how I do it, but sometimes this is a question that isn’t about money or time but strength and confidence. My mother once told me I am brave. I didn’t feel brave when I stepped off a cliff in Turkey and spent the entire time I was paragliding screaming “Put me down!”
I’ve never had a job I’ve really loved. When I get caught up in the boring details of the job I have but do not enjoy, I am told – usually by my mother, because she is my mother and she tells me a lot of things in a way that only mothers can – to do what I love. She means I should write. And I should. But not yet. Why? I’m still travelling. I write, certainly, but not as often or as consistently as I should. And I’ve been hard on myself for that, but now I realise that I’ve been working to fund my travels, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. One day I’ll give Writing the time and money I have given Travel. First, I have to collect stories. Soon, I’ll write them. Really write them.
Sometimes I forget that I am already doing what I love. I always knew I wanted to travel. I always knew I wanted to write. I’m already doing what I love, I just forget that sometimes. Travel has become such a significant part of my life that it simply is. One day, writing will be like that, too.
Are you doing what you love?