Why I First Went Travelling: A Personal Reflection
I'm fascinated by people and the reasons we do the things we do. Have you ever stopped to consider what it is that makes you want to travel? I hadn't! So, in the interest of sharing and possibly learning something about myself, I thought I'd sit down to write about it.
Maybe the reasons we travel are the same across the board?! Hopefully learning about why I first went will in some way inspire you to travel for the first time too!
I think I’ve always felt drawn to the idea of travel.
I’m the youngest of three brothers and apparently it is quite common for the youngest to break the mould and go travelling- something to do with finding our niche in the family where other roles have been taken by older siblings.
As a child I remember being excited by the prospect of getting older and finally having the freedom to move out and do my own thing. I couldn't wait to 'be an adult' and have the ability to make decisions for myself.
Interestingly, I was obsessed with changing and reorganising my bedroom furniture when I was young, which I think was probably my way of taking control of what I could at the time.
There must be an allure of power to the powerless and growing up as the youngest child there’s a certain amount of being the smallest and weakest that you get used to.
No matter how many years pass it is difficult for anyone to get away from their early experiences and from the standpoint of a powerless little kid brother, the absolute freedom of travel becomes more understandably attractive.
To me, travel has always represented these ideas of autonomy, free-agency, liberation and control over my experience.
So, who knows, perhaps my urge to travel stems from the same reason I wanted to rearrange my bedroom furniture as a child: to take control of my life, to have choice and to be free.
THE PERSONAL & PRACTICAL
What I've called 'the background' might explain the theory behind why I find travel so appealing, but by the time I actually first went, I was 20 years old.
If I was so inspired to travel, why did it take me so long to bloody go?!
I suppose the simple answer is that it didn’t feel right up until that point.
Life happened, or the urge wasn't great enough, or for whatever reason, stuff just got in the way. I'm full of paradox, like most people.
So, despite longing for my personal freedom and independence, historically I've tended to rely on other people to shape my experience. I've followed and fitted myself around what I thought others wanted to see.
Despite my best efforts, throughout my teens I only had a very loose sense of who I was and it was far simpler to follow the crowd and the status quo.
For the longest time I’d said I was going to take a gap year between school and university, but had never given it any real consideration.
By choosing not to look into it seriously, I gave myself a reason not to go- true independence is a scary prospect when you spend a lot of time following everyone else.
However, possible personal explanations aside, there were practical reasons I postponed travel as well.
Firstly, I was flat broke at the time! Secondly, I was lucky enough to be in the final year that qualified for the lower fees at university. Had I taken my gap year, I would have committed myself to three times the expense for the same degree, just a year later.
Obviously, that didn't make sense.
So I went to university.
Looking back, I don't regret that decision. My time at uni was incredible for all sorts of reasons and was a hugely formative period of my life: moving out of home, living with people I didn’t know, looking after myself, making mistakes without the safety net of parental support etc etc.
All these things helped me mature and develop as a person.
In hindsight, I think it was this growing maturity and self understanding that really gave me the confidence boost I needed to seriously consider travelling for the first time.
I recognised the opportunity in a way I hadn’t previously: where it was once a loosely held but alluring aspiration, it suddenly felt far more realistic and attainable.
And then, when I turned 20 I received some inheritance money. Alongside my savings and student loan, I finally had the financial means act on my ambition.
So, it was really a combination of factors that explains why I first went travelling.
After a lifetime of travel aspirations it was at 20, with growing self-confidence and understanding, plus the financial means to buy a plane ticket, I finally felt able to head out into the world.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
And I haven't looked back since.
What makes you guys want to travel? Do you share any of the experiences I had, or recognise any similarities to why you travel/want to travel? I'd love to hear about your reasons in the comments :)