It’s never the things that you expect to be most meaningful that actually hold the most meaning. It’s not seeing the Mona Lisa or visiting the Phi Phi Islands. It is the 6 hour drive through rural India. The boat ride between islands in Indonesia. The endless wandering through Angkor Wat. The solo bike ride through Vietnam’s rice terraces. The moments where there is the availability to just witness.
Most of these moments happen for me when I travel by myself and currently, as I write this, that is the ferry ride from Capri to Amalfi. Looking out into the Mediterranean, there is nothing but time and space to just be in awe of the world we live in.
The first time I ever traveled by myself I flew fourteen hours from London to Bali. I had never been to Asia before and had no idea what to expect. What I found was an experience I still have a hard time putting into words to this day.
Growing up in a culture where everything is readily available and normally at your doorstep within a few hours, it is humbling to be in a place where life is not as simple. There is less distraction, less concern, and simply more presence in the moment.
The true magic of the island lives in the beauty of the people who live there though. I have never met nicer, more genuine, and more inspirational people than during my time in Bali. As a taxi driver in Ubud once said to me:
“You never understand how small you are and how large the world is until you are in the ocean, just you and a thousand miles of sea. Being small doesn’t mean your impact in the world has to be small though. Live fully and passionately and the whole world will hear you”
We go through the motions everyday. We run to work, we run home, we sometimes manage to get a yoga class thrown in here or there, but for the most part, life remains methodical, predictable.
We live in a world of immediacy. And growing up in the States, we live in a world of endless possibilities. Endless cuisines. Endless careers. Endless opportunities. The sheer endlessness of our culture makes it hard sometimes to grasp what life without all these opportunities would really be like.
Now having traveled through thirteen countries over three continents by myself, I have come to appreciate the details that often get overlooked when traveling with someone else by your side. Whether Africa, Asia, or Europe, one thing that has always remained constant through my solo travels are the people I meet along the way and the impact it has long after I return back home.
So travel. Travel as often as you can. Travel with friends, travel with family, and every once in awhile, travel on your own. Get lost on your own and just be where you are. Challenge your fears. Challenge your preconceptions. Challenge your understandings. Just go, and do, and see.