Whatever you do, don’t become a traveler.
Traveling tears you apart, it destroys you and everything in your life.
Nothing has been the same since I turned 18 and I threw my life, my future, my sanity away when I decided to take the road less traveled. It all went out the the window when I joined a youth-volunteer program that offered no money (just an experience to remember and cherish for a lifetime). Or when I took the offer to clean toilets in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the true beauty of Northern BC wildlife. And the year I lived in hostels across the country, sleeping on peoples couches, too afraid to settle down in one spot, the fear of what would happen if the world stopped for one second. Also, from my latest adventure, the winter season I spent in a small resort town with a big city mentality
My life, my emotional and mental state, are forever fucked up. All because I met beautiful people from all over the world, people that spoke languages I’ll never understand, people that believed in different religions and/or spirituality, people that had different sexual orientation and views of love that didn’t match my own. But, nonetheless, I loved them all the same.
It doesn’t even matter how long I had known them. Whether they were that Puerto Rican guy I sat on a bus with that was convinced I was of the same nationality, or that Aussie girl in Starbucks that hooked me in a conversation where we bad-mouthed people that are tourists and not travelers, and how important the Backstreet Boys were to pop culture. Not to forget that British girl that had no filter for her brain and said everything that was on her mind, most of the time not even knowing she was saying it. Plus the crazy German dude that is unable to stay in one spot for too long, whether for a night, or long term, always on the go. These are people that I called my hostel family, and were strangers on the street. People that were my roommates, my boss, someone that I had fallen in love with. All of these people that I had met, short term and long term, have reshaped my life and how I view the world. They have unknowingly taken pieces of my heart – regardless if I wanted them to or not – and carried it with them to all corners of the world.
I don’t think I’ll ever be truly happy again, because my heart, my love is always elsewhere. I am forever stuck in another place. If I am here, I am there. I’ll be talking to someone and thinking of a completely different other person, or that one place I stayed/trespassed/go lost in. And that strange bar that led me to even stranger people that opened up their homes for me. I am remembering everyone and feeling everything. My one true love is that “flighty temptress, Adventure.” I miss it, I crave it, no matter what I do, where I am, or who I am with. I’m forever stuck on that dark winding road that leads to the beautiful and dangerous unknown.
It takes a lot to be a traveler – it’s kind of like selling your soul (so to speak). You give up everything you know in life, you trade in the safety and security of home, of your friends and family, of a stable job, of any chance of you having a normal life ever again. You are stripping your life to your most basic, primal-self. Your bed will transform into the floor of a friends place, to a tiny, worn out mattress, crammed in a 16 bed dorm. It can be anything from the back of a car, in a tent, on plastic seats on a ferry, over-packed buses, inside a McDonald’s, a noisy train station, a random rooftop you are trespassing on. Forget about eating three square meals a day. You could eat an apple for breakfast, half a sandwich for lunch, and the rest saved for dinner. Alcohol will be the most precious luxury you will miss and will experience pure bliss when you splurge and get your favorite pack of beer. After a while, the whole “club scene” will seem ridiculous too you. You see the amount of money goes into a night out and will calculate the price of a night of clubbing will equal to where the next bus can take you with life on the road, and the difference is absolutely shocking.
After a while, you realize how little you need to survive, living off of the basic essentials. You know exactly how to turn $50 into a weekend adventure; driving over 250 km and attending a rock show. It takes a lot, and it will get frustrating from time to time. But, this is where you don’t give up, you don’t let go. A lot of people struggle when traveling. They breakdown and want to go back home, hide and never do something like this ever again. I’ve been there quite a few times. Failure and Misery are very old friends of mine and we’ve always managed to have a good time (unfortunately). Except, I know what it’s like to give up and to come crashing down as a fiery mess, screaming my head off, running down the dark alleyway, strangers faces flashing by, no escape, blocked off from everybody. You don’t do it though, you don’t go back. Instead, you bite down hard on that last scream, grit you teeth, and charge forward. Admitting defeat is not an option, because you see yourself as a modern-day pioneer. Nobody is ever going to take this trip but you, this is your “unexpected journey”. Going back would be raising the white flag, saying you were wrong, that you didn’t have what it takes, that giving up now is condemning yourself to an ordinary life until the end of your existence.
The road less traveled will most definitely become a creepy, abandoned road, late at night, surrounded by barren trees. All of a sudden, your life has become a place for all the creatures of the night to come out and play and you can do nothing but wait for the sunrise. And that is the key to life on the road; things may seem dark and twisted right now, but it can turn on a dime. An opportunity you would have never dreamed of comes knocking at your door, sweeping you off your feet and into an epic adventure of a lifetime. The idea of giving up, of going home, seems ridiculous now.
I don’t know how tomorrow is going to turn out, who I’ll meet, how much money I’ll have, and if I’ll be in the same place in 6 months time. I’ve never known or ever will know. My life is a constant mystery, and I honestly don’t think I’d have it any other way.
So, I’m going to continue to live out of my backpack, constantly jumping from place to place, to meet new people and rip off fragmented pieces of my soul to give to them, to fall in and out of love, to continue to climb mountains, swim in oceans, sleep in dark forests or on overexposed city benches. I’ve destroyed my life by traveling, by leaving pieces of my heart with strangers and in unfamiliar places I called home. I’ll never be the same or “normal” (whatever that means). I’m going to continue to uproot my life and travel, make new friends, experience things I would’ve never thought possible, and I’ve never felt more alive because of it.
Believe me when I say:
You will never be the same again if you travel. It’ll destroy your life, it will rip your heart out and shatter your soul. But, at the same time, it will make something new and unexpected out of the pieces, it will reshape what you know and see, how you feel about safety and comfort and the world as a whole. It will be a jigsaw puzzle that you will spend the rest of your life trying to put all the pieces together again, and again, all the while, acquiring new ones along the way. And this will be something beautiful and unique, something completely and utterly infinite. You will never be the same again, and you have never been happier for it.