As I write, I’m looking out at Connecticut from my train window, watching the clapboard houses and woodland trees pass me by. There’s something about long train journeys (which I adore) which always makes me think and reflect. Today’s journey, being in the USA, is reminding me of the magic of travel — and that there’s a world out there.
I’m aware that I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to have had the travel experience that I do, especially being just 25. I was just one year old the first time I crossed the Atlantic, and ten years old when I took the first adventure I can fully remember.
My parents and I flew out to Kenya, for 2 weeks split between the beach and safari. Yes we stayed in a lovely hotel and did the whole tourist thing but it was the drive from Mombasa airport that stuck with me. The intense heat outside the minibus, kids coming up to the windows to sell us mini bicycles made from wire, goats tethered up next to houses on the roadside, and tall palm trees arching overhead. That was the first time I realised how diverse and different the world could be, and I knew I wanted to see more of it.
As soon as I left school I was ready to pack my bags for my first solo adventure, ignoring the advice of my father and heading off to Venezuela to begin my travels. We slept in hammocks a stones throw from the beach, backpacked around the country and climbed Latin America’s table mountain. I was hooked.
For me, travel brings perspective. A fresh appreciation for the life you have back home, or perhaps new ideas for changes to make when you return. You are inspired by new and different cultures, put yourself into at time difficult situations and test yourself as a person.
I was 22 when I decided to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina for 6 months. I knew next to no Spanish and didn’t know a single person in the entire country, let alone the city. But it worked. Those 6 months were simply amazing. I learnt more about who I was, what I wanted and where I wanted to go. I discovered a whole new culture, country and way of life.
I truly believe that taking yourself out of your comfort zone is essential to confirming who you really are. And travel is an excellent way to do that, especially to a country with an inherently different culture to your own. I consider it no coincidence that I fell in love with an incredible South African man with the same zest for adventure and exploring new places as me. There’s a world out there, and it’s waiting for you to discover it.