Why do you travel?

by Melissa on June 5, 2011 · 0 comments

As a frequent traveler, I often get the question “why do you travel?”  so I figured I’d take a few minutes to address my own personal reasons, as well as address the real reason behind why I decided to go on a four month long journey to the other side of the world all by myself.

I have been traveling literally all my life.
  I am privileged enough that my parents took me on my first vacation (to St. Lucia) when I was at the ripe old age of 2.  Soon after, yearly visits to Disney World in Florida became a staple in my family (heck sometimes we went more than once per year!).  I visited Disney nine times between the ages of 5 and 13 thanks to a family time share with the Disney Vacation Club.  After the whole Disney thing, my parents started introducing all-inclusive travel to the repertoire of vacations.  By the time I turned 20 I’d been to Mexico four times, the Bahamas twice, the Dominican Republic and Italy once each and the travel bug was starting to really sink it’s teeth in me.

Once I became competent and confident enough to travel without parental guidance, I soon made trips to Nova Scotia, Scotland, Florida, Australia and New Zealand with friends.  And once I became even more confident in my traveling abilities I traveled to Sweden, The Netherlands, France and of course Australia and New Zealand (a second time) all by myself.

arc du triomphe
I guess to get to the real reason behind WHY I travel beyond the fact that I have been exposed to this lifestyle from a very early age; I think I do it to fulfill a hunger for experiencing life and everything that the world has to offer.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, traveling teaches you more than any textbook, classroom or university degree ever will.  As a traveler you gain knowledge of not only the place and culture you are visiting, but you generally tend to learn a lot about who you are as a person.

I think what gave me the swift kick in the ass to actually go for it, was the realization that I couldn’t just sit at home and hope that one day I’d be able to see these places.  A few years prior to my solo-travels I had been in a relationship and we often talked about the places we would visit one day.  We literally made a list – it was called our lottery pipe dream.  After breaking up, at first it made me sad that we would never be able to experience these places together – I thought I’d never be able to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower, or sit in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam.  Those were things that my ex and I had planned to do together, and if he wasn’t with me, how could I possibly do it on my own?!  One day, however, a lightbulb just turned on above my head.  I didn’t need him.  I wanted to truly see these places – not because WE wanted to see them together, but because I WANTED to go somewhere new, breathe in the life of a city so unlike my own, get a taste of life somewhere else, and most importantly to meet people.

new friends
While this revelation came to me, I also came to the sad realization that I was finding myself in a rut.  With my university degree and superfluous amount of intern and volunteer hours not being of any use to me in the job search in the Toronto film and television industry, I found myself waitressing.  Initially, after my last semester of school I told myself I was only going to waitress until I found a paying film or television job.  Three years later, there were still no job prospects, I had handed out hundreds upon hundreds of resumes and volunteered on a number of sets.  I was becoming discouraged and upset with myself and for the first time in my entire life, questioned if film and television was something I truly wanted to do.  Ever since I was little I thought I wanted to work in film – initially as an actress, but once I learned I wasn’t graced with talent when it came to that department, I figured the next best thing would be to take a creative standpoint and try to get into production.  Needless to say, it was starting to look like this childhood dream of mine was not going to come true.  And while I’m generally an optimist at heart, one can only sit around for so long waiting for things to happen.

Now we get to the part where my desire to go to the places on my “lottery pipe-dream” list, and the realist in me deciding that I had to come up with a new idea for what I wanted to be when I grew up collided.  I had had a few friends go to Australia on working holidays in the past and had heard nothing but good things about their experiences.  Having already been to Australia a year and a half prior, I knew it was somewhere I felt comfortable.  I spoke the same language and the customs and people are quite similar to Canadians so there wasn’t a whole lot of a culture shock.  I decided that I was going to take some ME time.  I was going to get a working holiday visa and attempt to figure out my backup plan while living a life sans the distractions and influences of people at home (friends, family, annoying jobs that you hate, etc.).

solo travel sweden
That was pretty much it.  It was me going to try to figure stuff out.  It was a time for me to reflect on things that are important to me and to hopefully gain new life experiences that may point me in a new career direction.

Hopefully this answered the question “why do you travel,” and gives you further insight into why I decided to do a working holiday visa.  Of course, lady luck wasn’t on my side in the figuring my life out department, so hopefully one day I can travel for an extended period of time and try to clear my head and figure everything out.  Till the time comes that everything has sorted itself out, I can always satisfy my hunger to travel by exploring new places and revisiting old favorites — I don’t think the travel bug is going anywhere fast.  It’s embedded itself into the core of who I am.

So my readers, I turn the question back at you, why do you travel?


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