I’m hiking the Camino de Santiago this week, and I once again reminded how travel can take you out of your comfort zone and remind you the importance of always testing your limits. Don’t get me wrong, luxury travel has its place and I love staying at a 5-star hotel as much as the next person. However, for me, travel is an opportunity to grow and test yourself as a person. It offers you a chance to always choose to be your better self—even if it might be a little difficult.
You can grow in many ways as a human being, and travel doesn’t necessarily have to be the way you do it. But for me, travel has served as a constant source of introspection and acknowledgement of both my weaknesses and my strengths. From moving abroad to Venice when I was nineteen, to embarking on the Camino now, I’ve learned things about myself that my other interests never asked from me.
One of my first times traveling alone required that I take a bus to Vienna. My credit card wasn’t working, and I had cobbled together enough cash to pay for the bus ticket. I had to call the company on the bus WiFi, which chose to be intermittent, so I could have enough money to pay for my hostel. After that, I walked alone in the dark on the outskirts of the city, trying to find my way with Google Maps. It was January and cold, and I didn’t know that Vienna is one of the safest cities in the world.
I was scared. And I have been scared many times on my travels. I have slept in a train station without cash, have stayed in sketchy hostels where no one knew I was there, and have walked home alone living abroad with my keys between my fingers like Wolverine so I could stab someone in the eye if needed. And guess what? All of my fears were unfounded. I never once had a situation on the road where I looked back and regretted it.
I’m not advocating for unsafe travel. There is a line there. But I do want to stress the importance of testing yourself (and others) by trying situations that you think might be scary or that you think you can’t live through. For me at nineteen, it was living without my parents for three months. For me at twenty-five, it’s walking 115km within less than a week and doing some internal digging.
Travel for some is a hobby or a way to get out of the daily day-to-day grind. I don’t fault that kind of travel, at all. Everyone needs to do what is right for them. But for me, as someone who is always traveling, this nomadic existence has become my life and I wish to make the most of it. This means taking a look at my boundaries, and knowing what is just outside them. Trying new foods, kayaking down the Amazon River, taking a tai chi class in Greece, asking questions, and meeting new people who can help me achieve my goals of exploration.
And if you don’t have someone who can do that for you, I’m here! Send me your travel goals or experiences you would like to accomplish and we’ll work together to make sure they happen. Let’s test our limits together.
What was the last journey that tested you?