‘So has it changed you? Travelling for so long?’
I was at the bus station in sky-high Potosi, Bolivia. It was about a month before I was due to return to Australia. A fellow traveller, who I’d just met in the taxi to the bus station, and I, were waiting in line to purchase snacks for the journey to nearby Sucre. And she was the first person to ask me the question I’d spent several weeks mulling over myself.
How had a year and a half of travel changed me?
The answer is: I’m not too sure.
I know what new skills I’ve developed. I know that it’s propelled me forward in life and given me opportunities I would never had otherwise. But have I experienced some kind of intrinsic shift in the direction of my life or the way I live it?
Over the last eighteen months there are most definitely several standout moments. Moments where I experienced something – where something in me clicked, shifted, turned over.
When I first left Sydney in May 2010 and I spent my flight to Los Angeles struggling to fathom what I’d just done.
At the train station in Beijing, getting ready to board the train to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the one place I’d been dreaming of visiting for so long.
The three emotionally and physically shattering days I spent on the Kailash kora in Tibet.
But what is it that’s changed?
I take better photographs. I can pack my backpack in three minutes flat. I drink tea instead of coffee. And green vegetables no longer terrify me but strange dogs do.
I’m more adaptable. New and potentially stressful situations don’t bother me so much anymore. I’m more resourceful and independent. I’m more tolerant of difference.
And, perhaps most importantly, my restlessness has…well, been given a rest.
For a good five or six years before I left, travel consumed me. I thought about it, read about it, worked in the industry and hopped on a plane as often as my job and my bank balance would allow. I spent most of my evenings and weekends researching my eventual Epic Adventure.
By the time I arrived in Buenos Aires this October, I knew that I was ready to go home. I felt done.
I was ready for a break from travelling long term. I was beginning to crave routine and consistency. I no longer had a fiercely burning desire to stay away from Australia. I’ve been home in Sydney for a month now. I’m living with my best friend in a place we’ve christened the PP (Party Pad) and I have my own kitchen. I have a wardrobe full of pretty things. I see my friends and family frequently.
And I haven’t worn my hiking boots in weeks.
And it feels pretty damn good.
So am I finished with travel?
Not by a long shot. It will always be a priority for me and I’m already thinking about next year’s short trips. I’ll give you a hint…the destination features in my brand new header image.
And what about long-term travel?
It’s in my not-so-distant future. I guarantee it.