Travel is something which can inspire many emotions.
You might catch your breath as you round a corner to see a sweeping mountainous vista, ocean glittering in the sunlight. You might visit a small village and laugh as the local children play rambunctiously, demanding your attention, or hide behind their mother’s skirts, only to be coaxed out, shyly smiling, as you take their photo and show it to them on your camera. Or you might be solemnly stunned by war and genocide museums, by the images and stories that detail the depths to which humanity can sink, and realise that you will never, ever be able to comprehend the horror and atrocities some people have had to live through. You might get somewhere and find it’s not at all what you expected – happily, or disappointingly. You’ll meet people who will become life-long friends, and make your experience even better than it otherwise would have been. You’ll meet some people to whom you look forward to saying goodbye.
Through all this, there’s emotional modifiers working for and against you. You pick up a bad stomach bug. A stranger sees you in need and gives you a helping hand, taking them well out of their way, and asks for nothing in return. You have to take some uncomfortable overnight transport, and arrive at your destination tired, sore, and grumpy. You bump in to people you’ve met previously while travelling, and have a great time catching up with them. You have to lug your heavy backpacks in the hot sun trying to locate accommodation in a busy city. Somehow, all your travel plans line up beautifully, you never put a foot wrong, everything runs on time and you even arrive at your destination early. Or the complete opposite happens. But the delay means you end up finding a cosy little coffee shop with amazing décor and friendly staff that you otherwise never would have had the chance to enjoy.
The longer you travel, the easier it is to shrug off the bad and enjoy the good. Everything is part of the overall experience, and every experience is worth something, even if it’s just a story to tell, or some perspective on how things could be worse.
One of my favourite emotions to have while traveling is what I call “the moment”.
After you have spent so much physical and mental energy in getting to somewhere new, finding where you’re staying, and sorting everything out, you finally arrive at the point where you have nothing to think about except what you want to do next. You’re completely free. Those are the moments where I find myself sitting at a café, walking down a cobblestone street in the sun, sitting by a beautiful lake or even rugged up in a tent while it lashes down with rain – and the realisation suddenly hits me. “Wow. I am actually here. Travelling, in this country, on the other side of the world. This is AWESOME!”
Travel is one of the few things that can provide you with that kind of moment. There are many reasons to go travelling, and having those moments is high up on the list. 🙂