Now firstly, this isn’t some sort of let’s make myself feel better post. As you can see from the picture, I’m pretty darn happy already. I’m writing this because in this day and age people don’t seem to give themselves enough pats on the back. When you travel, often you’ve made sacrifices and overcome fears to do something that is completely out of your comfort zone. So in this post are some reasons why you should be proud of yourself for travelling.
You’ve done something pretty brave
When you travel, it’s a big step for anyone. Often you’ll need to break the news to your family and loved ones, and/or boss at work. For some, you may be unemployed and have parents who are funding and supporting the trip, but this isn’t the norm. At the time I chose to I travel, I had a good job, a great boss, and parents who did not think long term travel was a good idea. So I needed to tell my boss and parents of my decision, which for any of you that have travelled, is always tough to do. For some reason I felt like I was letting my boss and company down by leaving. Whereas actually, after I’d handed my notice in and told him of my plans, he and all of my colleagues were extremely supportive saying either they’d travelled themselves and absolutely loved it, or that they had always wanted to.
Then there’s telling your parents… The dreaded conversation where you essentially say: ‘so I’m quitting everything and spending all my money to go thousands of miles away on my own, to places that might be dangerous’, what every parent wants to hear right? Well, when I told my parents, it was more of a drip fed thing subtly planting the seed that I’d wanted to travel and breaking the news slowly. But actually the main thing that helped was the fact I was 100% certain in why I wanted and needed to travel, and they of course were very supportive of it all. So even though in the end you’ll likely be supported, it’s still hard breaking that news, and putting yourself and happiness first is sometimes a scary thing to do.
You’ve stepped out of your comfort zone
Obviously there are going to be some people who ‘travel’ but stay in 5 star hotels and go to places similar to home, and if that’s what you want to do, it’s your trip so go for it. But I’m talking about what is probably the majority of travellers. Those will usually be people who go far away from home to completely different cultures and live in completely different ways to what they’re used to. I actually think this is a huge barrier for most people, and why they don’t actually want to travel in the first place. They are happy in their comfort zone right where they are and don’t want things to be scary and different, and if so that’s also completely understandable and fair enough.
But for those who choose to leave their home comforts to go somewhere completely alien and new, with different food, people and culture, I think that’s pretty awesome and something you should be proud of. I think it’s only when you do things that are different, scary and outside of your comfort zone, that you can learn and grow to be a more well rounded person. By pushing your boundaries you’ll realise you can do things and live in ways you never realised possible, and also appreciate what you have at home all the more.
You’ve taken an interest in the world and what else is out there
I’m not going to go all political, but sometimes in the West we can be a bit guilty of only being concerned with ourselves. For example certain world crisis only become relevant in the news when they affect western people, or we only care about things that affect us personally. I’m no saint and I’m not trying to be preachy, as this is of course natural and doesn’t make you a bad person. But my point is, when you’re travelling you’re spending time and money to actively go out there and experience and learn about other cultures and ways of living. Just by doing so you’re not only supporting those cultures by the tourism you bring, but you’re also becoming more aware of social, historical and political issues going on in the world. By travelling you inevitably gain a more holistic view of how the world works, which I think is something you can definitely be proud of.
You’ve made it work financially
Money money money. It’s often a big barrier to being able to travel and a big stress while you travel, it definitely was for me… But, we often don’t actually give ourselves credit for being able to manage our money during our time travelling. When you travel, you’ll need to save money, look after your money, negotiate with people, work with different currencies, and budget. It’s actually a pretty good introduction to managing money in general and in life. When you’ve accidentally overspent on the third roung of jagerbombs for your group the night before, and as a result have to live off pasta for the next week, you become a bit more savvy. Travelling is a great education in different aspects of money, and coming through the whole process of keeping afloat financially throughout your travels, is something you can definitely be proud of.
You’ve come through it
Most people that have travelled have experienced the highs and lows it can entail, homesickness, running out of money, getting ill, missing western food, not having a proper toilet, to name a few examples… Coming through the other side you should reflect and think, ‘you know what, I’m proud of myself for that’.
On my trip in the space of less than a year I: bungee jumped; sky dived; ate snake and rat; camped in the Serengeti with lions, hyenas, scorpions around; braved the 40 degree plus African heat on bus journeys that were over 14 hours; went on my own to stay for a week in a remote village in Fiji with locals I’d never met before who had never had a foreigner stay before; sat on the edge of the Victoria Falls; had nothing but a hole in the ground for a toilet where you had to go in pairs because of elephants; bravely introduced myself to countless new people in different continents; patiently (and sometimes less patiently) lived in close quarters with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters; and generally did a lot of ‘putting myself out there’.
When you actually list what you’ve done and achieved travelling (and my list could have gone on significantly!), this list actually turns out to be pretty damn awesome and you realise that travel takes balls. So today, why not do a bit of reflecting on all you achieved through travel, give yourself a pat on the back, and think ‘you know what, I’m proud of myself that I travelled’.