As a child, it never occurred to me that travelling around the world is a gift. Only as a teenager, I realized how lucky I am and how very grateful I am to my family. I have been flying to countries that for many only appears on Instagram or, on their Google search while dreaming about their upcoming honeymoon. I was too young to understand what it really means to travel. But growing up to be a young adult, I know now: I never want to give up on wandering around our extraordinary planet. But perhaps I have to. Perhaps, I am too late. Perhaps I am not.
Decisions vs. dreaming
There comes a time, or better say, somewhere along the growing up process, when you need to realise your responsibilities in life. You have to decide what you want, or you can simply keep on dreaming about the future that never comes. Whichever you choose to do – travel for a month with a backpack, see the sunset in Mexico, breathe the fresh air in Finland, or start a new enterprise at your home country-, you have to remember: the present never comes back. So focus on the things that you can do now to get the future you dream of. Be selfish – it’s your life! It’s not your friends’, not your family’s, not your partner’s. It is yours, so decide or keep on dreaming!
Know your priorities
No doubt, one of the most exciting and valuable things of the 21st century is travelling. It has never been so simple and fast to pack your clothes, grab your passport and chase your dreams. On the other hand, our generation faces a great deal of pressure to find a job in a jobless market, decide what to do for the rest of our lives, get independent and be successful. So, the pressure comes from many sides. And we end up asking: how can we expect from ourselves – and be expected – to build a career, spare money, and be the free-spirit generation that we are meant to me? How could we travel as freely as Jack Kerouac and his friends in his famous book, On the road, when we need do decide about our future? And we need to do it right now?
What I learned from travelling solo
“You are exceptionally independent and brave” – I can’t even count the times I’ve heard this sentence while traveling and having fun in foreign countries. A young girl who likes to travel alone is still a bit odd in the 21st century. Of course, if I were a man, it would be all great and OK and bon voyage. I want to be a published poet. And there is nothing more inspirational for me than the colours of building in far away places, the similarities of the cultures, or the wild wind by the seaside. If I were to be less poetic I would tell you this: you can never fully know yourself until you haven spent a week with yourself in a country other than yours.
What you will not get from traveling
Imagine that you are in your dream country. You visited everything that you’ve wanted, you feel satisfied, wild and free. But still, something is missing – and it isn’t the people you love, the money you spent on souvenirs. I did not only learn from the forever-adorable Audrey Hepburn that Paris is always a good idea (however, it is simply true), but also that “no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself” (Surely, we all remember the famous scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s). So if you think that by traveling endlessly you will build a better personality, figure out your future, or produce your career plan, you are probably still afraid of yourself. And I am no different.
I’d say, it’s easier for people who have a job, which doesn’t “require” the experience of travelling. I tend to imagine that those people know better when they travel, why they do it: they travel for the sake of pleasure. As a writer, however, I always have to think and evaluate: is this trip really about the journey, or am I just seeking excuses to escape from myself?
Is traveling a necessity?
Is travelling really just an excuse to be young, wild and free for a longer time? I’ve seen young people around me building up their careers and developing a professional life just by themselves by hard work without going all over the world. So there are those people, like my father, who truly value the experiences that a new journey to different cultures can give. But there are also those people, who only travel to be able to say they travel. And then again, there are those, who never wish to travel and explore.
At the end of the day what really matters is to know who you are, what you want to do, and how you can achieve it. For some people traveling is more inspirational than for it is for others. For some, like me, it’s a necessity; for others it’s a burden. Can’t we just make the place for travel and careers without any pressure?
I hope so.
If you are lucky, you don’t have to choose between discovering the world, other cultures , building a career, and settling down. Our century after all is: post-everything, multi-everything, e-very-thing.