While I was travelling there were many-a-time when I absolutely despised having to drag around a huge backpack that seemed to be bigger and heavier than myself. Trying to pack all my belongings up each time I moved somewhere new was a drag too. It was always a struggle to make everything fit, no matter how clever my tessellation skills had become.
Yet, I also remember the times I looked at my red and grey, borrowed backpack, propped up against an airport wall, and thinking to myself, ‘This is all I have right now, I’m thousands of miles from home with nothing but the contents of this bag to survive on.’ What a wonderful feeling. Absolute freedom. No house, no car, no wardrobe, just this bag, a polyester sack, securing and rounding up the items that would help me along in my journey.
I think any traveller will tell you that it’s the people you meet, as much as the places you go, that make the trip what it is. I was fortunate enough to meet some incredible, inspiring people on my travels, each of whom I will never forgot. Young homeless adventurers, budding film producers, European surfers, hopeful rock stars and, of course, the avid party animal.
I’m a strong believer in fate and serendipity and positive thinking, so I believe I met all these people for a reason. They were all meant to be on the same path (if only for a little while) and that they were all supposed to play a part – big or small – in the whirlwind that was my trip.
Those people were genuinely some of the most interesting, warmhearted, pleasant and likable people I’ve ever met. I wouldn’t have met these types of people staying put in my home town. Don’t mean to come across harsh, but I just wouldn’t have.
This may sound strange, especially when being on a budget is usually the bane of a backpacker's life. But, looking back on it, it was fun.
Deciding which instant noodle flavour to have for dinner. Choosing between a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps for lunch. Staring into fancy restaurants (or ANY restaurant for that matter) and hating those rich non-travellers inside for being able to buy a proper meal. Sorting out communal dinners with your fellow hostel roomies (a particular favourite was beans, eggs and toast with a cup of tea between five, $3 each. BOOM).
Not to mention, the rush of excitement when you find out your hostel does free meal vouchers and contemplating what the infamous ‘backpackers’ meal will be like in this place. Debating on EVERY single thing you buy, even if they were essentials ("Shampoo for $4?! I’d rather go without!”). Driving around in circles mindlessly trying to find a ‘Target’ or ‘Woolworths’ or just any supermarket. Searching down a Maccy D’s for the free WiFi while pretending you’re looking at the menu knowing full well you will not purchase anything as you have no money! Hmmm. Maybe I don’t miss it that much actually.
LA, San Fran, NYC, Melbs, Sydney, Nadi… there were times that I had no idea where I was anymore! Being constantly “on the road” left me feeling like I was going slightly insane – but in a good way!
I think it's the amount of freedom, the break from routine, the sheer knowledge that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, go wherever you want and explore places you only ever dreamed of going. I'd get a sudden feeling of power when I was at an airport thinking that I could go literally anywhere my heart desired.
I didn't really comprehend this fully until I was waiting for the plane back home. I was sitting in Brisbane airport about to board my flight back to rainy old London. “I have my bag, I’ve been doing this for months, there’s no reason why I can’t just skip terminals and jump on a place to NZ!”
There was a reason, of course. I'd run out of money. But I could have.
I had dreamed of going to the US for as long as I can remember. Landing in JFK was one of the most overwhelming and physically powerful moments I have ever experienced. I spent the entire the taxi journey from JFK to Manhattan Island, thinking “I can’t believe I'm in America!” Yep, I was that excited.
I felt exactly the same way going to California. Visiting LA was the big one for me. Every year since I turned 16 I had announced to anyone who would listen that I was going to LA. I know I will never experience that same “first time” excitement of being in the States ever again, but I will with other places. It's magical. If I could box that feeling and sell it, I'd be a millionaire...
Well, let’s be honest. No-one likes working!
What do you miss about travelling when you're back at home? Tell us in the comments below.
As the title of her blog suggests, Marie-Claire believes that life – and the world – is out there for the taking. She believes that travel is the best way to 'Live in it.'
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