“How do you do it? How do you just go?”
A friend asked me this after I returned from nearly 10 years of world travel. It was then I realised that travel was not an easy decision for everybody to make. Leaving friends, family and a good job with no fixed date of return can be more than a little daunting. Why would you want to do that? Of course there are many reasons, but I want to talk about one that struck me like a hammer on the head when I decided to take the big leap.
Growing up in the ‘shire’ (colloquial for the Sutherland Shire, nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings), just outside of Sydney, I was a fairly well-liked person and I was relatively happy. But I felt there was always something missing. I felt a little odd, like I didn’t quite fit in. It wasn’t until I decided to jump in my van with two friends and a dog and drive across Australia that I discovered there were many ‘odd’ people, just like me. The world was a wonderful party – far beyond the boundaries of the ‘shire’ – that I was only just discovering.
Of course nothing was the same after I made that first leap. Life really began for me and I’ve since met so many people. Here’s just a few of the wonderful weirdos I’ve met on my travels, all who I’m still in touch with, bar the family below.
I met an Ecuadorian family when I was left penniless after my ATM card stopped working. The father, a taxi driver, took me into his home just outside of Quito, where I was looked after for two weeks. His family literally saved my life. You can read the story here. Amazing time. Amazing people.
Paula and I met on a tour of the salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, and we’ve been friends ever since.
I met Patrick in Sydney and visited him in Barcelona (his home) for a few months. When my partner and her friend later visited Barcelona, I called him up and he looked after them for a week. A top fella and I’ll be visiting him when I hit Spain next year.
My good friend Carole and I met in London way back in 1999. I visited her in her home country, Paris, again in 2007 and we’re still in touch. I plan to pay her a visit next time I’m in Europe, hopefully next year.
I travelled with Tana (far right) in Ecuador. I then went to Switzerland (read the story here) to visit her, met her friends pictured here and bumped into Claudia again in far northern Laos several years later! Tanya and I are still friends and I’m soon to visit her with my little family.
Alejandra and I met in Alice Springs and I just missed catching up with her in her home country, Mexico. We are still in touch and plan to meet up again, one day….
I met Drew (right) while I was living and studying in Mexico City. We’re still in touch and he’s a regular reader of Planet Andy T.
I went on a mission through Madidi National Park in Bolivia for a week with an American girl named Katy. It was a time I’ll never forget and you can read the full story here. I met up with Katy again three years later in Thailand and we’re still in touch.
Anke (right) and I travelled together in Ecuador way back in 1999. We’ve recently reconnected on Facebook and have tentative plans to meet up in Barcelona next year.
I met this guy, BJ, in India, only for a day. We’re not in touch but I’ll mention him as an example of the many interesting characters you’re likely to meet on your travels. His alleged claim to fame is micro-engraving the Ten Commandments on a grain of rice.
So, if you’re stuck in your circle of friends, feeling a bit lonely or ‘weird’, be brave, take that big leap and travel with an open heart. Things will change.
The party is about to begin…