I’m sitting on top of a volcano in Indonesia, my legs are aching and my trainers are full of volcanic ash after hiking throughout the night to reach the summit. I’m gazing out on to the horizon of the most striking sunrise I’ve ever seen, arrays of red, purple and orange merging as one and piercing through the darkness, carrying with it the torch of a new day.
I feel completely at peace with myself and where I am right now, in this moment everything else is irrelevant. Then with a blink of an eye, I’m sitting in front of a computer, I’m answering emails and taking telephone calls in a career I have little interest for. Now back on British soil with months of air miles behind me, I’m going to tell you why travelling was a blessing but also a curse for me.
There is 196 countries in the world, there is so much beyond our own backyard and, fortunately enough, nowadays we have more of an opportunity than any generation before us to pack our bags and book a one way ticket to explore once before inaccessible lands. I can describe to you what the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat looks like at sunrise, I can tell you what it feels like to free fall through a cloud at 200mph, and I can recite to you the stories the Vietnamese survivors of the war endured, but it will never do it justice unless you live these things for yourself.
Experience shapes and allows us to grow, it helps you create the morals which will then be in place to influence the way you live your life and travelling is the perfect way to do that. It makes you take responsibility for your own life and others around you, and puts you in challenging situations you wouldn’t normally foresee yourself getting into. It makes you understand the world is bigger than you and your issues, you see things that test your patience and you witness suffering more than you would like to admit. However, you also see happiness, raw and unmaterialistic happiness, and in these moments you have complete clarity. Moaning becomes a long forgotten habit and humbleness takes over you. A delayed train or a cancelled plane doesn’t raise your hackles, you learn to just accept that sometimes things don’t go as planned and that’s okay. ‘Yeah but's’ will disadvantage your life if you allow them to.
You want to see the world but then you find yourself saying, ‘but I have a good job, so I better not’, you could go on forever telling yourself excuses and trying to convince yourself you’re right. The only thing that is standing between you and your dreams is fear. Fear tells us to play safe, tells us that we do not need to change. Then change tells us to wait, we can wait all our lives to do something, keep putting it off to next week, next year, how about your next life? Because that is something we are not guaranteed, time. We are creatures of habit and I understand the fear, I have been in that position myself. I’ve had to give up everything I had, it was terrifying and wasn’t easy but I can ensure you that you won’t regret it.
Nothing worth having is ever easy, and the same goes for travelling, do not be one of those people who says ‘you’re lucky’ to the likes of me who did go out and travel, you too can be one of those ‘lucky’ people. It’s just whether it means enough to you for you to actually want it and work for it. I wasn’t handed my plane ticket, I worked my arse off and saved every god damn penny I could get my hands on to make my dream a reality.
Trust me, I’m under no illusion, I know it’s not easy and unfortunately I am aware many people will never be in a position to do what I have done. I have seen the slave trade and I have witnessed extreme poverty and spoken with individuals who have never seen beyond their own village, let alone their own country and never will. However, if you are amongst those like myself who realistically do have the opportunity, then why aren’t you going out there and grasping it with both hands. Believe me there are many people out there who would give anything to be in your position, so don’t waste the hand you have been dealt. Embrace it.
When you arrive home and after the excitement of being back with your family and friends has long faded you have this awareness that part of you feels like home just isn’t home anymore. Of course you have so much here and everything which you left behind, but you notice that it’s just not enough for you anymore. You have this overwhelming realisation that so little has changed at all, and the only thing that has changed is you. So yes I now find myself at the moment confused and ultimately bored with where I am, the feeling I had on Mount Batur feels like a distant memory, but what travelling did for me was more than I could have ever visualised. It taught me more in eight months than what eight years in education ever taught me. I now question what I really want to gain from life and travelling has molded me into a person with drive and determination to get where I want to be.
I don’t want to go back to my old repetitive life, but I will take the necessary steps to get where I need to be. Excuses will never hold me back again, because without risk and having faith in yourself, life would be dull. You’ll find when you talk to elderly people that they don’t regret the things they did do, but instead they regret the things they didn’t do. With that in mind I want to one day be able to look back on my life and be able to say to myself in complete serenity that I didn’t just exist on this earth, but I truly lived.
If you too want to expand your mind and immerse yourself in the world of travel book now...what are you waiting for?!
Words By Lucy Burling