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I was recently asked: “What has traveling for six months been like?”
There you go. End of article. Let’s move on with our day.
Kidding! I will put forth a bit more effort to explain, although explaining my true experience in words seems like attempting to explain water to a fish.
Do you know what I mean?
It’s that kind of experience where…
You feel different.
Life looks different.
Something has changed.
Yet, it seems easier to solve a Rubik’s cube than to articulate what you are sensing, feeling, and thinking.
Well, I’m going to give it a go.
I’ve never solved a Rubik’s cube, but hey—why not?
I like leaning into my edge. Trying the things that make me feel like I have no idea what the hell I’m doing, but doing them anyway.
What I’m saying is, this is a somewhat complicated answer that I want to make simple. Or as a colleague of mine would say, “simplexity.”
In September 2018, I made two of the scariest conscious decisions of my life.
1. To leave my corporate job that I was quite good at
2. Sell almost everything and start traveling the world
Well, here I am.
Seven countries in six months, and light-years away from the guy I was when I took off from Austin at the beginning of the year. Or at least, that’s my take.
I’m currently sitting at a cafe in Zagreb, Croatia, attempting to answer this loaded question. There’s no time like the present to attempt to explain, and to do that, I’d need to talk openly about the highlights of my adventure, such as:
Attending a reception at a castle in Ireland
Traveling across Portugal with a man from Brazil and woman from Sweden
Meeting an old friend from across the globe in Madrid
Crossing the straight of Gibraltar from Spain to Morocco
Snorkeling in the coral reefs off the coast of Egypt
Riding a horse around the pyramids of Giza
Mountain bike riding down a bobsled track in Bosnia
Taking private Bachata lessons in Croatia
But as I read the above examples, they don’t even scratch the surface of the experiences that mean the world to me.
There is is so much more.
Each country with unique experiences I will forever remember.
Each country and experience having taught me something.
Each country with its own unique, but similar beauty.
Each country containing memories of the people I met and connected with.
People who taught me more than I can begin to express in any depth in this one article.
So when I attempt to answer the question about my experience over the past six months, I can look at it from a few angles.
The places I saw
The things I did
The people I met
The lessons I learned
And, how I’ve changed because of it.
It’s a lot, right?
That’s why my escapist response to the question was, “Dynamic!”
Because each “angle” possesses its own intrinsic value to me, and my life. That said, if there were two that stood out in my mind the most, it would be: the people I met and the lessons I learned.
I could talk about how I changed, but I won’t, because it’s one thing for me to say I’ve changed, and another for the people I know to see that I have.
I like seeing cool things. I like hiking, and new food, and trying local favorites, but for me, the enjoyment of those falls short of the love I have for getting to know people from each place I visit. Because it’s through the people I meet that I learn the most about humanity, and myself.
Think about being in a relationship with a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Regardless of how many relationships you have been in, if you really listen, you will learn something.
You may learn what scares that person.
You may learn what makes them smile.
You may learn what makes them the same as you.
You may learn what makes them different.
You may learn what makes them beautiful.
Take it even deeper and notice how you interact with them—what makes you happy, mad, or sad when you talk to them, or even think about them. From that place, you will learn more about yourself.
This is what has made my travels so rewarding. Learning what keeps people up at night, what puts a smile on their face, what they truly want in life, and what gets in the way of creating it. All this, and so much more.
And all the while, I’m seeing how I respond or react based on the content and context of what is being said.
If I were to answer the question—What has traveling for six months been like?—with a different, one-word answer, it would be this:
I set out to travel for about a year, and over the past six months, I’ve learned a few things. Here is what I know for sure:
1. We often find ourselves in one of two camps when it comes to control.
a) We think we have more control over everything than we actually do.
b) We think we have less control than we actually do.
I set an intention to travel the world, and while some elements are missing, I’m doing it.
It took me getting clear on what I can control versus what I can’t. Asking “how can I make x happen,” instead of living in the world of “I can’t because” changed everything.
2. Be kind and patient when things don’t go as expected.
And, when moments like this arise, I recognized how having rigid expectations often holds us back. Then I focused on having an idea of what I would like to happen, without freaking out if it didn’t go exactly as I’d planned.
3. Learn to receive acts of kindness, love, and support.
I do well at giving and supporting. Yet, when it comes to receiving love and kindness, and at times, asking for what I want, I stumble.
Learning to receive kindness has been the largest area of growth for me over the past six months. Anyone who has met me along my travels, or been a part of this trip, knows what I’m talking about.
4. Have fun!
This is huge for me. Many times over, I have caught myself trying to create a dynamic like I had back in Austin—work all the time, so much to do, and no time to play.
Many times, I’ve had to cut myself off from working to enjoy myself a bit, whether it was for more eventful things like mountain bike riding, dance lessons, or snorkeling, or something as simple as sitting on a park bench for awhile.
Making this change helped me decide that travel will be a part of my life for years to come.
Do I know exactly how I’ll make it happen? Nope, but I will make it happen one way or another.
Don’t forget to live a created day!