Wanderlust; a word defined to describe a strong desire to travel. Many perceive travelling as an extended holiday or a motive to escape the responsibilities of adulthood, but is there more to travelling that is made out to believe? Cliché phrases such as ‘all those who wander are not lost’ and ‘finding yourself’ are used, as well as describing a person to have caught the ‘travel bug’ after one adventure. Are these overused phrases creating an annoying stereotype, or is there more substance behind such expressions?
e are all guilty of scrolling through social media comparing our life to those we see online. We are saturated with people getting engaged, pregnancy announcements, job promotions, buying a house… All these images influence our beliefs that this is the ‘correct’ way to live, where certain life achievements should be metaphorically ticked off an age associated timeline. It is a structural routine that has played out over generations leaving the notion that everyone should follow suit. In contrast, we see photos of adventures shared by a minority of people who have instead skipped the settled life and chosen to travel the world. I don’t consider life to be one specific rule book compromising of a checklist; a conventional life classifies as a dream for some, whereas others prefer a more adventurous one. No one is right, no one is wrong; ultimately we are all individuals who seek our own version of happiness. However, many will constrain themselves to this routine life solely because society tells us to, but if travelling is on your mind, I encourage you to take that plunge.
Watching others travel the world may leave you questioning how that could ever become your reality. It may seem completely out of reach and the understanding of making it a possibility seems too farfetched. Commitments at home prevent you from leaving, and how anyone could ever afford it becomes baffling. However, it all comes down to priorities and how badly you want it. Shifting your end goal to ultimately be to travel will be the driving force to succeed; only you can make it happen. This implies sacrificing items on that metaphorical timeline, for example a mortgage. Purchasing your flight ticket and informing your employer that you are quitting to go travelling is when it all becomes real. The build up of emotions before leaving is a mixture of excitement and worry as you get closer to the unpredictability of what’s to come. A fear of failure is inevitable, but even if you decide travelling is not for you, there is still a great deal of pride in having had the courage to even try.
Unlike a holiday, travelling gives us the ability to learn more about a country by truly understanding the locals and embracing their culture. People might travel by backpacking for several months, whereas others implement a work and travel lifestyle. I chose to live in Australia for two years by adopting a nomadic lifestyle. What does this mean? I don’t have a specific home in Australia and lived out of a backpack. I have never stayed in one place for longer than three months, but instead, I have used the last two years to work in different parts of the country and then used that money to travel again. I have often resorted to living in less than luxurious circumstances, such as sleeping in the back of my car, on sofas, in fourteen bed dorms and free campsites with no amenities. This alternative way of living will allow anyone to incorporate a very minimalistic and cheaper lifestyle which means you can afford to travel for longer periods of time.
The fear and challenge of travelling on your own can be daunting. However, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! Although scary at first, you really don’t need someone by your side; the independence you gain is so rewarding. Personal growth and newfound confidence comes from travelling solo as you have only but yourself to rely on to plan and make every decision – you soon become amazed by your own capabilities. These are all attributes that would never have been achieved by staying at home. On a day-to-day basis we unknowingly conform and compromise ourselves, often rendering our own happiness to please others. As a solo backpacker, you are able to put you first. I don’t imply this as a means to be selfish and escape responsibilities, but instead it teaches you more about your self-worth and value. Travelling solo enables you to choose your own path and live a life that you consider to be fulfilling. If you start to feel unhappy, having no obligation to remain in that location means you have the power to move on. This is extremely liberating and having such freedom is the foundation of a nomadic lifestyle. Additionally, being by yourself forces you to talk and meet new people. Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travellers and the friendships made are often lifelong. The travelling community is special as you find yourself constantly surrounded by like-minded people to talk to and share experiences with. In reality, you are never truly alone. It is also important to acknowledge that sometimes you do fail to make any friends, but you quickly learn how to enjoy your own company and have the self-assurance in being alone.
I consider Gibraltar a fortunate and great place to live. However, it has become apparent through travelling that we live a very comfortable and sheltered manner. This can make the rest of the world seem like a much scarier place and in turn makes it harder to leave as a solo backpacker. Learning about different cultures and how the world functions beyond our home walls is important as it provides the gateway in being more consciously aware and open minded. At times I have missed home, but during those moments it is crucial to remember why you initially chose to travel and reflect on everything you have experienced by being away.
I would highly recommend Australia for any first time solo traveller. Being a first world, English speaking country occupied by a huge backpacker community makes meeting people and travelling very easy. Australia further offers a vast variety of landscapes and diverse settings. The East Coast varies from big cities to small beach towns consisting of beaches, waterfalls, rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. The West Coast and The Red Centre offer a remote, outback adventure where gorges, red sand and wildlife are in abundance. Tasmania also serves to be one of my highlights as the nature and hikes are incredibly beautiful.
I believe there is a misconception to travelling; it exceeds beyond the beautiful photos but rather entails of a lot of hard work physically and mentally as you constantly challenge and push your own limits. Nevertheless, the journey of self-discovery and personal growth is irreplaceable, along with all the memories, experiences and friends made. Underestimating your own capabilities and fear itself are often what stop people from travelling, but you can certainly do it. If you never go, you will never know.
BY GIANELLA BALDACHINO