The Traveler Stories Series. Each month we feature a story written by another fellow traveler, who shares with us their own travel experiences. This month, meet Sam, a fellow traveler who is travelling the world full time. She shares with us her story and some lessons she learned along the way.
As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to travel. So, when I turned 22, I packed up my belongings and prepared myself for a year long travel adventure. Little did I know at that point in time, that that would would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the world.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to continue this love affair to many destinations across the globe. I have lived and taught in both Singapore and the US. Volunteered with women and children in Africa. Snorkelled in a remote island around Malaysia. Celebrated Oktoberfest in Germany and bathed in hot springs in Iceland.
Just to name a few.
Back in 2013 however, I decided it was time to move back to Australia and settle myself back into the ‘real world’, landing myself a job at a prestigious high school in Melbourne. And whilst, for the next couple of years, I enjoyed my job, I definitely wasn’t jumping out of bed each morning to get there. Quite simply, after only 7 years as a teacher, I had reached the point where I wasn’t sure that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The passion and love that I had once had for my chosen career, simply wasn’t there anymore.
So…. what next?!
After many hours of soul searching and trying to reflect on what I really wanted to do; what really made me happy, it was travel that kept coming up over and over again. I couldn’t shake the voice within me that was relentlessly telling me it was time to pack up my things and head off on the next adventure. And so – I quit my job! I realised that I needed to give myself the space to step away from teaching for a while and see whether it really was what I wanted to be doing FOREVER. Because let’s face, ‘forever’ is a long time!
Fast forward to 2016 and I am now five months into a year long quest to discover the world – and, so it seems, myself!
I am currently sitting in a café in Florence, enjoying my third espresso of the day! Taking the time to write this piece has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on what I have learned so far. And whilst, that’s hard to narrow down, because quite simply every day I am learning so much, here are the top 5 things that come to mind:
1. I am capable of much more than I give myself credit
Every day I continue to surprise myself with all of the things I am able to do on my own. This opportunity has allowed me to stop and appreciate everything I am truly capable of achieving. Which, so it seems, is A LOT!
2. YOLO is not just a saying – it’s a way of life
Ok, so maybe my past as a teacher has seen the teenage lingo wear off on me a little too much, but there really is a lot to be said for adopting a ‘YOLO’ attitude. When it comes to traveling I truly believe it’s important to say ‘YES’ to as much as possible. You only live once after all – and I for one am determined to make it count!
3. Live in the NOW
When we travel, its very easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the amazing things we have in store. It’s important not to let the anticipation of next months’ adventures hinder you from enjoying where you are right now. I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion and am slowly learning to live in the present more and more. It really does make a big difference!
4. Appreciating other cultures is so important
When going to any country it’s always important to try and embrace and appreciate the culture as much as possible – The saying, “When in Rome” didn’t just come from anywhere! Get off the beaten track, ask the locals where the best places are, take a traditional dance class, learn to cook some native cuisine, stay with a local family, learn the language. There really is no limit to what you can do. Immersing yourself in the the culture provides a whole new viewpoint on the places and people who live there.
5. I am blessed beyond words
More than anything, travel has taught me to be grateful for what I have. There are so many people in this world who are much worse off than I am. It’s not that this trivialises anything that I may have been through in my own life, but it certainly puts a lot of it into perspective. Travel has allowed me to be more thankful for the things I DO have – starting with the fact that I’m now experiencing the world firsthand!
One of the comments I hear most often when I tell people that I am traveling for a year is, “Wow! I’m so jealous. I wish I could do that!” To which my response is, ‘You can!”
I understand that it’s not that easy for everyone to just pack up their lives and set out on a year long adventure around the world, BUT, and it’s a big BUT…If it’s your dream to do so, then you can find a way to make it happen.
I am not a millionaire by any means. I worked my arse off and sold a lot of my possessions in order to make this trip a reality. Why? Because I wanted to. I was sick of going to work every day feeling unsatisfied with my life. The general feeling driving home each night was that there ‘has to be more to life than this!’ And, quite frankly, from my point of view – there is!
If you yourself are unhappy with your current situation and thinking about making a change, my advice would be – GO FOR IT! And that doesn’t have to mean traveling for a year. For you it might mean changing careers, or ending a relationship or buying a new car. If that’s your dream; if it’s something you really want to do, then find a way to make it happen. Because life really is too short to spend unhappy. And from where I’m sitting, you have a whole lot to gain in the process.
Sam is the beautiful Founder and Blogger at People in Our World, a blog that celebrates the uniqueness and diversity of the people and places around the world. Follow along on her journey through her Blog, Facebook, and Instagram.