On this very day, many moons ago aged 22, I embarked on my first travelling expedition. I’d been on holiday prior to that, but never for longer than a week, and Greece was the furthest afield I’d gone.
I had recently passed probation in a new job, and they had to make my role redundant. They had a different position they wanted me to take on instead, and rather than negotiate a pay rise I got them to agree a three month sabbatical. I’d been living in a party house for a few years with a bunch of wild antipodeans, and my trip to Thailand and Australia was with some house mates.
We all have our own agenda in life of course, and travelling isn’t for everyone. I’ve met people over the years that had zero desire to do anything more than holiday in swanky resorts. That’s great for them, because they wouldn’t be happy to slum it in backpacking guest houses or rooms in Asia that cost less per night than the price of their morning coffee. Other people hate flying, so don’t go anywhere that will take more than a few hours to get to.
For me however, I know with absolute conviction, that going on that trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It sparked off a different mind set in me, and ultimately I know that travelling the world in my twenties has made me a better person. Wow, that’s a big statement right? Here are the reasons why.
Made me more adventurous
That first trip was a very gentle introduction to exploring the world. Jungle trekking in the north was good fun, and Bangkok is a full on assault on all senses, but even a decade and a half ago, the southern Thai islands weren’t exactly full of local culture. It felt more like club hopping than island hopping at times, and laying around sunbathing on beaches certainly doesn’t qualify for hard travelling. Australia has always been first world, and my only shock to the system was how expensive everything was (bloody GST)!
The first trip whet my appetite though, and less than eighteen months later I returned to Thailand with a more intrepid outlook. Less than a year after that, I headed out there all by myself and had the time of my life. I met my husband on that trip – third time lucky I guess. There are so many countries still on my must-see list, I don’t think the travel bug ever leaves your system once you catch it.
Opened my eyes to the wider world
Although I had been living independently since I was 15, and had met a large variety of people by the time I was 22, my views on the world were still rather blinkered. I don’t think it’s possible to truly empathise with poverty until you see it with your own eyes. I didn’t properly ‘get it’ until witnessing entire families living in a rubbish dump in Cambodia.
Made me more accepting of other people
I met some awesome people on all my trips, but taking the third one solo meant that unless I wanted to be on my own day in day out, I had to meet others. Some of them I gelled with immediately, and they are still a part of my life, others not so much. I didn’t feel compelled to spell out all their flaws and fall out with them though. I got into a fair few heated debates, because of differences in opinion, but no proper arguments. I learnt many lessons in when to keep schtum – something I wasn’t very well versed in at all back then.
It was lots of fun
Travelling was many things, but more than anything else, it was a whole lot of fun. My experiences on the road have given me lots of useful tools to help me succeed in life, and if I could give just one piece of advice to a teenager after they finish education, it would be to travel the world before settling down. This is the main thing that I hope to see my own kids following in their parents footsteps on.