Stop looking for happiness in travelling

It’s so much more than that…

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve joined a number of Facebook groups full of people who decided to hit refresh or left their jobs to travel. I wanted to know what their motivation was behind it. Did someone have the same experience as I did? Meaning, did they also hit a wall in their career and life and didn’t know what to do next?

In most cases people want to ‘find themselves’ and are tired of the routine they’ve fallen into in their everyday lives. They want to have a blast and find their happiness while travelling.

Reading through all those comments about how people decided to quit, sell their stuff and travel is kind of thrilling .

The freedom you could have, the possibility of seeing the world…many of these people ditched their past life without a backup plan and haven’t looked back since.

But there were a few things I noticed that people weren’t sharing.

So, I’ve decided to share my own travel experience and get the conversation started. I commented that although leaving a job that makes you unhappy to start travelling is pretty cool, you still need to be ready for what will come your way.

Yes, there will be many, many incredible moments during your trip, but you might encounter some obstacles along the way, some of them unexpected. All these ups and downs make for an emotional rollercoaster.

There were people who ‘liked it’ but there were also those who disagreed with what I wrote. I was offering up a more realistic point of view but there were mixed feelings about it from the group, myself included.

Was I wrong? Was it better to simply sugarcoat the whole thing and say, leave your job, travel the world and you’ll find yourself? Or did I do the right thing by being honest about the not-so-nice things/feelings you can experience during your travels?

I love travelling…

It exposes me to so many new perspectives and the opportunity to learn so many new things along the way. The crazier my trips are, the more stoked I get for my next globetrotting adventure.

However, for the majority of my life, my travels were only short-term. I would go somewhere for 2–3 weeks and then return to my comfort zone and the safety of my full-time job.

Even though I got to travel often, travelling consistently for a few months had always been a dream of mine. I had to leave my job because there was no other option for me. I had some money saved up so I thought everything would be okay.

I naively thought my solo travel adventure wouldn’t be so different from shorter trips. I’d already done a month of travelling so I thought a few more months would be fine. Yes, it would last longer, it would require more planning than usual, but that should be about it.

I was so excited about finally exploring the country that had been at the top of my bucket list. So when the day came, I got my backpack ready, boarded the plane and made it across the Atlantic to Canada.

However…

“Silhouette of a woman against a pink and purple sunset, hair floating in the wind” by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

The past four months of travelling hasn’t been entirely about ‘my happiness’. Believe it or not, the number of unhappy or uncomfortable moments I’ve experienced so far is probably equal to happy moments.

When I realised this, I started freaking out and felt like I was failing. Why? Check YouTube, travel blogs, Instagram, Twitter etc.. How many people are sharing super funny and amazing moments? How many are being real about the struggles and obstacles along the way?

There was a moment during my travels when I realised I constantly felt lonely and wasn’t enjoying the ride. On top of that, I felt like I failed in traveling itself . How is it that everyone else’s travel seems always so cool and amazing, while mine had many moments of sadness and discomfort?

While I was thinking about all of this, something else had crept into my mind. Doubt. I started thinking that this whole solo travel thing was a mistake. It was not at all how I imagined it would be. For a long time, I couldn’t understand what was happening.

Until one day, I sat down and started writing a diary, capturing all the thoughts and feelings I had these past 4 months. It’s good to empty your mind and give it a space to refresh.

Reading through my notes I realized, travelling is not only about happiness and it’s not only about travelling itself. I also realised I was looking at it completely wrong.

Travelling is so much more than just happiness

  • It’s about doing things that push you out of your comfort zone and shape you into the person you are or will become.
  • It’s about dealing with all kinds of emotions and learning how to handle them without being afraid of how you feel.
  • It’s about not being afraid to show your emotions.
  • It’s about being open to all the moments you experience on this journey — happy, sad, hilarious, crazy, a little bit dangerous.
  • It’s about the adrenaline you feel pumping through your veins that makes you feel alive, that makes you a human being.
“Young woman leans out car window to feel the fresh mountain air” by averie woodard on Unsplash

So what is travelling really about?

It’s driving through the summer night in Vancouver with the wind blowing in your hair and half of your body sticking out of the window. It’s about friends who fly across the world to meet you in New York and then spend days looking for the best hot dog in the town.

It’s about giving your number to someone knowing they might never call back. It’s about feeling lonely but brave enough to reach out and meet new people. It’s about early morning hikes and late night poutine dinners. It’s about breaking the speed limit on a highway while police car is passing by in the opposite direction. It’s about realizing what your values are and live up to them.

It’s about finding balance in yourself. It’s about expecting unexpected.

So when you travel, stop looking only for your happiness…

I enjoy researching different topics, occasionally, I’ll turn them into articles.

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