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In today’s world, with social media taking over our lives, we, millennials, usually find ourselves scrolling through our newsfeeds, stumbling upon meaningful quotes that make us stop and think about what’s happening in our lives.
I’m no different than the rest of the crowd doing such things—only, I’ve chosen to live a little differently than others.
I once read an article by Anthony Bourdain, where he said, “If you’re 22, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel—as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on the floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them—wherever you go.”
It didn’t take much time for me to realize that a nine-to-five wasn’t my cup of tea, and while I had a knack to express myself in words, I knew my book of life would never have the best stories if I lived a monotonous city life.
My journey has just begun, and there’s a lot still to be discovered. But I would love to share some of the most inspirational travel quotes that have become intertwined in my life and helped me feel the joy of living the life I’d always wanted.
1. “If I’d learned one thing from traveling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.” ~ Alex Garland, The Beach
Most people are busy making plans that will probably never work out. They spend days convincing others to join their journey, wait until the price of the flight tickets drop, scroll through the endless articles of “Things to do in…” and, in the end, they sit back at home, complaining how others ditched at the last minute, or maybe, they couldn’t manage to take leave from work to make things happen.
One thing I’ve realized over the years is that you don’t really need to plan too much—once you hit the road, you’ll eventually figure things out. I remember back in 2016, I signed up for my first high-altitude Himalayan Trek without even knowing what I was actually getting myself into! There were endless challenges on the way, but when I got back, I knew that I was in love with the mountains.
2. “It is always the same with the mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.” ~ Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas
These lines kept echoing in my ears for months after I got back from my first trek. I knew that I had left a piece of my heart in the Himalayan trails, and the desire to run back to the mountains kept tickling me from time to time.
I longed to listen to the flowing river and feel the breeze blow by; I wished to sit for hours looking at the snowcapped mountains, and how the sky changed colors throughout the day; I would walk through the valleys and lie down on the grasslands, which were drenched in dewdrops and smell the freshness of the earth.
With time, I realized that happiness lies in these simple things that we are blessed with when we are away from the chaos and cacophony of the urban jungles.
3. “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ~ Jack Kerouac
I have a Polish friend who traveled to India to do her Master’s, and she played an important role in encouraging me to travel and explore this beautiful world. Before I met her, I longed to travel, but I lacked the confidence to break free from the regular (secured) life for something uncertain.
As I got to know her better, I realized that all the fears we have are just in our thoughts, and if we can control our fears and step out of our comfort zone, there’s no looking back.
4. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.” ~ Freya Stark, Baghdad Sketches
Indeed it is beautiful to wake up to nothingness—to sip on a morning cup of tea without having an agenda for the day, to be away from a network zone where nobody can disrupt your peace, to feel free and wander in a land where no one knows you and you know no one!
I remember when I was hopping across South India, spending each night in a different city, and every morning I would wake up to see new faces in the hostel, talk to people from all different parts of the world as we shared our breakfast, and then, go explore the city by myself. I made friends with random people during the bus rides, chai wallahs (roadside tea sellers) and autowallahs (autorickshaw drivers), and got to know that the world isn’t as bad as we think while sitting at home, binging on TV shows, or reading the news.
5. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” ~ Mark Twain
After endless trips with my partner and a couple of trips with a few of my closest friends, I’ve realized how true these words are! To be honest, you’d never get to know a person over a cup of coffee or at a dinner date. Traveling, as it might otherwise seem, isn’t a smooth cakewalk. It does have its own challenges and only when you dive deeper into the unknown with another person, will you get to know how much you value each other in life.
Your time together on the roads will let you know more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses—it’ll let you shed your facades and open up your real selves. You’ll probably have the heartiest laughs and the worst cries, you’ll dance like mad on the beaches or try to grasp your breath on the mountains, and once you return, you’ll know how much the other person matters—or if they matter still at all.
6. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
When I planned for a month’s trip to Kenya, there were several frowns that I noticed and a lot of questions came my way—I knew some people were concerned about whether it was safe to be there for such a long time, while others were wondering what I was really going to do there for a month. My partner and I signed up for a childcare volunteering project in Nairobi where we would be spending our days with the infants and toddlers, and those days turned out to be one of the most beautiful times of my life.
It taught me that there’s nothing called “culture shock” or a “language barrier”—you can easily connect with people over emotions and smiles. We realized that there’s more to the country that we could’ve known from our schoolbooks or blogs on the internet. Every day unfolded in the most unique manner—whether it was at the children’s home or amidst the wilderness while we were spotting the animals in their natural habitat.
The journey helped us to realize that not everyone in this world is born lucky, and all we can do is be a little compassionate.
7. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” ~ (Attributed to) Saint Augustine of Hippo
It was only when I started traveling that I realized there are a lot of things they don’t teach you in the classrooms.
It’s only when you travel to a particular place that you get to know the history and the people, the geography and the diversity, their culture, and heritage. While exploring the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, which is also considered to be one of the hottest places on Earth, I learned that the earliest pre-human hominid fossils was excavated from this area.
During my journeys across Spiti Valley in Himachal, India, I came across people who usually hibernate for six months a year, since the entire valley is covered with snow and there’s barely anything to do in that time. These are only small examples—and you’ll find your own once you hit the road and start exploring.
8. “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” ~ The Dalai Lama
It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to see a different state or travel to another continent. What this quote means is that you should see a place that you’ve never explored before even if that’s within your own city.
For most of us, we never make an effort to wander in our own hometowns. Often, I’d be talking to friends about their native places, telling them things that they’ve never cared to explore, in spite of the fact that travelers from across the world come to see those places.
I think it’s more about our ignorance, or more likely, about our desire to see things that are far away, rather than appreciating what’s closer. Now is the time to make a change, and see that old mosque near your house or visit the food street selling local cuisine.
9. “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” ~ Susan Sontag
From hiking along the ruins of Machu Picchu to deep diving at the Great Barrier Reef; from getting drenched at Niagara Falls to feeling the chills at the Everest Base Camp; from walking down Times Square in New York City to binging on pho in a tiny shack in Hanoi—I’ve done it all from my bucket list.
And it’s never-ending. While most of my friends are busy focusing on their career and setting goals for how to get promoted, I’m reading about the Yellowstone National Park, the Trans-Siberian Railway, the islands of Raja Ampat.
From my experiences, I’ve known one thing for sure—you can never grow while you’re stagnant, so it’s important to look beyond that cubicle and step out of that comfort zone. Find time for yourself and make an effort to explore the unknown trails.
Trust me when I say this, you won’t return the same!