When we travel, something shifts in us. For one, we physically mix up our world: crossing continents to a completely different time zone, only to realize you’re not quite sure where you’re going; not speaking the language; and Everything. Is. Amplified. And for some, that shift feels amazing and travel is their drug of choice.
I’ve travelled in waves throughout my 20s, and now in my 30s, I am lucky enough to work for a company where I live, eat and breathe travel experiences every day. As I look through the beautiful photographs that come in from all over the world (yes, I literally look at every single Flytographer shoot), I want to experience it all: every shoot route, every single city that I get to explore through our photographers’ lens.
In 2016, I travelled to Europe for three weeks with one of my best friends, Kelly. We spent five nights in Iceland and two weeks in France. While there’s too much of our epic adventure to include in one blog post, I wanted to use this space to reflect on some of the things that I think we learn about ourselves when we travel.
Your flight gets delayed. You connected at the wrong train station. Your SIM card isn’t working and you can’t find your Airbnb. The uncontrollable variables when you are travelling are endless – like that moment when you’ve been up for more than 24hrs, have taken four different flights, are wearing the same pair of jeans from two days ago, and you just want to eat a real meal. You just have to go with it. Find patience. Practicing patience when you’re in those moments is the only way to make every day of your trip a good day. After all, you’ve been saving for this trip, pinning photos to your ‘France’ board for months – and now you’re here!
To Go Without
Trying to pack successfully for any trip is a feat in itself, but accepting the idea of ‘going without’ once you’ve left is the golden ticket. I’m the girl who tries on three outfits before leaving the house for work in the morning, so trying to pack for winter/spring/summer weather in the month of April alone is impossible! You’re going to forget something or wish you’d packed those practical shoes or rain jacket or … ! There is something so freeing in only having the belongings in your bag and leaving the rest behind. The silver lining? If you absolutely need something, you’ll find it on your trip, then you’ll likely wear it the entire time and it will become the sweater you bought in Iceland and wore all over Europe. One day it will be passed down and be a memory that reminds you of every place you wore it abroad.
A Personal Check-up
How things go when we travel with someone (or on our own) can really reveal who you are. We discover our own personal strengths when placed in an unfamiliar situation or new environment. Travelling can also make or break a relationship. After travelling for three weeks with someone, if you’re still getting along well, it speaks volumes of your relationship!
An Appreciation for Details
In our everyday lives, we can miss the details because we are so used to them, but when we travel, everything feels brand new. Your environment is suddenly amplified and we see all the little things: the pastel colour of a door, the way the light hits a window, the sound of children playing in the street. You walk down an unfamiliar street and just notice things you wouldn’t make time for at home.
A Heightened Imagination
Travelling as an adult brings me right back to my days of make-believe: walking down cobblestone streets and imagining what’s happened there over centuries; seeing the paintings I studied in art school in person and standing in awe; experiencing symmetrical gardens, book shops, people-watching… I love people watching. My imagination is on fire when I travel and I can take myself back there anytime in a daydream. There’s also the time to be creative, by keeping a journal, taking photos or reading epically long novels in between destinations.
Flytographer: Gonçalo in Paris
I think the real takeaway from travelling, no matter how long the trip or exotic the destination, is what you learn about yourself and how the experience shapes you. Returning back to my regular day-to-day schedule and familiar environment, I try to remind myself that a lot of the things that I feel when I’m travelling can be brought home: I can go for a walk in the city where I live and discover something new; I can slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee in the sunshine; I can take a photo of something really beautiful. And for all the things I can’t experience here, there’s always my next adventure.