I love to travel. And I love the unknown. I didn’t always love it though.
Up until I was 19, I was such a home girl. I didn’t go anywhere without my family. Yes, we had moved and travelled a lot but it was always together.
The idea of going away to university (which was only a few hours away from where I lived) terrified me and it felt like I was moving to the other side of the world. I struggled being away from home and found an excuse to come home all the time during that first year.
My First Adventure Into the Unknown
It was the first summer after my first year of university that a friend and I planned a trip to Australia to visit my sister who was a studying at the University of Queensland for a year.
I still remember the few days before I left. I said goodbye to my boyfriend and my best friend as if I was never going to see them again.
The tears just kept flowing! I just couldn’t understand how I was going to have any fun.
Even though I wanted to go – no one was forcing me to go – it still felt like a ridiculously hard and crazy thing to do because it was something I’d never done before.
On top of it all, it was literally on the other side of the world from where I grew up in Canada.
I packed my things into a giant backpack (how does a 20 year old girl pack everything that she needs in life into a backpack?) and got myself ready.
My mind was all over the place. The nerves. The anxiety. The excitement. The fear. The sense of adventure. It was overwhelming.
Little did I know this ‘little adventure’ was going to change the course of my life.
Australia, We Have Landed
We were flying into Brisbane and then directly into Adelaide where we were meeting my sister and her boyfriend. They had rented a camper van and we were venturing out into the Outback.
I arrived safely in Adelaide…but my backpack did not. We didn’t have a forwarding address where my backpack could be sent to (they wouldn’t accept white camper van somewhere in the desert as an address – go figure).
They didn’t know where my bag was or how long it would take to arrive so off I went to start the adventure with nothing but my passport, my journal, my camera (yes, not a camera phone, a real camera as decent mobile phones weren’t a thing yet – imagine what a primitive life that was!) and the clothes on my back.
I traveled into the outback, my friend was disappointed to find out that there wasn’t a vending machine at the top of Ayer’s Rock, we explored life in the middle of nowhere, worked our way up the coast and back up to Brisbane.
It Took Three Weeks to Change My View on Life
This first trip was only about three weeks long. It took three weeks for me to change a fundamental part of how I would forever look at life and embrace the unknown.
Traveling had opened up something in me that I had never even known about. The day that I was leaving Brisbane, I cried so hard because I would have given anything to just stay there forever and continue to travel.
It’s not that I didn’t want to go home and see my family and friends. I would have loved to take them along with me but the addiction to new places and adventure was planted.
I just didn’t want to go back to a life of predictability. Go back to university. Go back to studying during the week and getting sh*t faced on the weekends. Go back to seeing my boyfriend only once every few weeks. Go back to feeling like I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. Go back to looking forward to the summer and then dreading September again when this pattern would repeat.
Clearly, travelling took me out of my comfort zone but once I got out of it, I didn’t want to go back in!
This would also prove to be a turning point in my parents’ life. After this trip, they didn’t see me very much anymore. I was gone, off to some random country every chance I had. I know I’ll have to deal with this one day too when my kids grow up. But I can’t bear to think about that just yet!
Learning About Yourself is Fundamental
I’ve learned a lot about myself through travel, through meeting new people, learning about new cultures and through simply just being me in different places. Learning about yourself is the most important thing you can do at any stage in life, especially one you’re younger.
It’s all in the mind what you can and cannot do. I once was scared, uncomfortable and just wanted to be around what I knew. I now thrive in new situations, new places and new experiences. The unknown brings a sense of welcomed excitement. While I say no to things that I don’t want to do, I say yes more often to things that genuinely excite me.
Don’t get me wrong. It still makes me a little nervous – but it’s the good kind of nervous that helps me keep life exciting and open new doors.
What I still haven’t succeeded at is figuring out just how my backpack ended up in India instead of Australia so many years ago and how my travel mates put up with me in my same B.O-ridden clothes for so long!
My memories of that trip will always look like it all happened in the same day!
And, of course, taking serious photos of my face is still a work-in-progress. But I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to fully embrace that challenge!