When I was in my late teens, I had a longing to go to The United States of America. TV soaps from the USA showed it as an exciting place full of fun, adventure and beauty. To me, it was the centre of the world!
That is how my travels started. At the age of 20, my sister and I packed our bags to go to Hollywood and New York. It ended up being a 26 state 3-month road trip.
We learned that the world was quite small. As we raced across The States, we bumped into people from Australia there. That is before Facebook existed, and the internet was just a rumour.
We also learned to have no fear. Most people are good people, and they are not out to rob, murder or victimise you. If you travel without flashing around your wealth, stay away from reputed bad areas and be kind, then you can usually keep out of trouble.
We also learned how much fun it is to experience new cultures, new food, new sights and meet new people from all over the world.
As we were university students with a minimal budget, we stayed in youth hostel dormitory rooms. It also ended up being the best way to meet people. Some of these people became travel partners, and that turned our trip into an adventure of a lifetime!
Most of all, what I learned (despite it seeming like a small world) is that there is a great big world out there. After having come from the end of it (Australia) to what felt like the centre of it, I saw the world through the travellers I met. I developed a yearning to visit the places they came from and how they lived and see it all for myself.
Back home, I finished my last year of university while working part-time and saving as much as I could while living at my parent’s house. After university, I got my first full-time job. Before a year was up, I quit, packed my bags and raced off to Europe.
Back then (pre-internet), people would not hear from you for a long time except for the occasional postcard. Airfares were more expensive back then too, and Australians usually went away for a year or two. Before the once in a lifetime trip, there was an extravagant farewell party and then off I went solo to begin a new life.
I headed for the Greek islands with no plan but to see the gorgeous Aegean Sea I had seen in photographs. It was the only thing on my bucket list. I had a brand-new backpack with 20 kilograms of new clothes, shoes and makeup and they called me ‘the greenhorn’.
As a newbie traveller, it was exciting to try to experience everything my budget could reach. I met so many travellers that became my travel partners and shaped the rest of my travels even as they departed and new travel buddies came on the scene.
As I travelled from Europe to the Middle East, I learned all about different cultures and cuisines. I learned history and geography direct from the field. I learned how to plan and organise. And most importantly, I learned about living a life full of adventure and discovery.
They were some of the best years of my life. Travel changed my life and ruined me from having a normal life. I never wanted to settle down to get a job, get married and start a family. Or get a mortgage for a white picket fence.
I went home, worked for a year and then packed my bags again. This time I went to Asia, where I met my life travel partner, business partner and husband, and he too was living the nomadic lifestyle. We embraced this and began to live a life less ordinary.
Travel in my 20s showed me there was more to life than working 40 years in the same job to raise and support a family and give you material luxuries to make your life more comfortable.
I was never one of those people who had a strong desire to be a nurse, a lawyer or a teacher. I never felt passionate about any job.
So it’s not to say that travel in your 20s will ruin you for life and ruin it that you will be unable to settle down. It will open doors for you in your mind. It will show you anything is possible and that you can do what you want and live the life you want.
And if you can find a way to travel and live your passion even better for you. And if you find after exploring the world that you want to go home, have babies, become a nurse and build a white picket fence, good luck to you and your beautiful dream of love and family.
I urge you to take some time and go travelling in your 20s. Please don’t leave it till later. Later there are partners, babies or ageing parents and you won’t want to leave. And if you are already in your 30s, it is not too late. Just go. Just go at any age.
But hurry, life is truly short. Go out, open doors, explore, dream big, live, Live Life!
Camel Riding in the Sahara Desert, Morocco
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