Ever since I discovered that I ultimately had ‘the travel bug’, people have been commenting on my bravery for venturing off across the globe. Just recently I was discussing my upcoming year abroad with a friend:
“I wouldn’t have the balls to do that, go away for a year. Let alone to two countries,” they said.
But I hadn’t even questioned it. In fact, I’d chosen my degree because it let me spend a whole year in two different continents. Pretty amazing if you ask me…
However, I’m slowly starting to realise that perhaps there is some kind of courage attached to travelling. When I booked my trek across America at 18, the main response was shock. (Although this probably had something to do with the fact I hadn’t told my mum, I just came downstairs one day and said that I was off to travel the states for 4 weeks next summer. Oh and I’ll be missing your birthday) A few people (feminists look away now) even asked what my boyfriend at the time thought about me spending my summer across the pond…madness, I know. He was treated to the same surprise as my mum.
Even when I got to the states, my young age did not go unnoticed. Much to my surprise, I was the second youngest of the 10 trekkers. This shocked me – the purpose of me starting working at 16 was to save and save and save and save for every holiday and city break around. I had an itch in my feet and was keen to scratch it. As soon as I had enough money for anything, off I went! However it seemed for some, choosing to embark on a long trip with strangers is rather a big deal, hence the older (perhaps wiser – they surpassed the America’s 21 drinking age) age group.
It does take a certain type of person to uproot themselves, even for a small amount of time. Take my decision to do the split year option for year abroad, for example. So many people have said to me ‘but you’re going to have to leave new friends after a few months and leave for Australia!’ My reply – ‘Yes, but I’ll be going to Australia.’ Besides, I’ll be leaving after 8 months anyway, why prolong the goodbyes, however ‘cold’ that may sound?
Although I value my friendships and family alike (I can assure you I’m not a self-obsessed loner) it would never stop me from visiting a bucket-list destination and exploring new cultures, especially if (like year abroad) it is practically handed to me on a plate.
However – returning to my original question, ‘am I brave?’- I guess perhaps I am. Maybe every traveller is. I’d never regarded my passion or any trip I’d taken as courageous as such – heck, I’ve never bungee-jumped or sky-dived in an exotic location! Although maybe even stepping on that plane, alone with guidebook in hand, is guts in itself.