Today I want to explore the idea about travelling with a purpose. After 8 months of travel I’m at a point now where sightseeing, to an extent, doesn’t excite me any more and feels meaningless.
If I’m honest it wore out within a few months for me and I felt like I was just going through the motions. I am, after all, travelling so I should want to tick off a load of boxes, but ultimately trying to fit in so many sightseeing activities quickly became stale. This happened mainly because some things didn’t really interest me and did nothing to enhance my experience. I was visiting places for the sake of it and to fill time.
Now, obviously, that doesn’t mean I have not been enjoying my time travelling because believe me I have. This is what leads me to talk about travelling with a purpose, so finding something you enjoy doing and organising travel around those activities which you actually enjoy and fulfill you. Believe me, the world has plenty to offer so I could never run out of places to see!
I have discovered that I really enjoy nature, hiking, trekking, adventure stuff (like river rafting and canyoning) and being in places that are quiet and relaxing (whether that’s in a rural area or near a beach). I’m an introvert by nature so being able to retreat somewhere peaceful is very important to me. I also like learning about the history of a place so going to museums is usually a must for me, particularly in Laos where I learnt about the Secret War.
Of course, my passion in life is Muay Thai so I’m very excited to be travelling back to Thailand in a couple of weeks to start training again on two beautiful islands. I’ll be spending 12 weeks there before returning to the UK.
So, now I’ve had a small glimpse of travelling for a long period I have discovered what I like and how I like to travel. I take satisfaction in feeling no guilt if I don’t see something that perhaps all the tourists are busy going to see.
An example of that is where I am right now. As I talked about in a previous post I am starting to wind down from the constant travelling around, I’m aware of how it’s been affecting my well-being and I needed to do something about that. I am currently in Kep, Cambodia and have found a lovely place to help me unwind and relax. I have a safe place to run and to prepare myself mentally for training.
Kep is a small coastal town most popular for its crab market, nearby pepper farms, its national park and the nearby Koh Tonsay (or Rabbit Island). I’ve been here 12 days and I keep saying to myself “today I will go to the pepper farm, I really should go whilst I’m here”. Yet, everyday I don’t go instead preferring to chill-out, catch up on reading, listen to podcasts and exercise. I feel so happy doing this.
Today I had a conversation with another traveller about trying to get to motivation to go to the pepper farm and reflecting on that conversation I was aware of the word “should”. This word to me implies doing something that is kind of forced because it’s expected of me. “Oh, I should see this and that because I’m travelling”. Actually, I just don’t want to go to the pepper farm because I’m not that interested, so why force myself to go because it’s “expected” or it’s on some itinerary in a guide-book.
Maybe a few months ago I would have already been and gone there, however, I’m aware of a shift in my focus and priorities. Travelling has been an amazing life chapter that I’ve needed to do for myself. It’s been healing for me and given me a chance to think deeply about an abusive period in my past, a kind of “fuck you” to someone who brought me down and made me feel I wasn’t good enough.
Although my focus and priorities are shifting back to Muay Thai as I prepare myself to train again, I still want travel to be a part of my life. It’s an excellent way to see and experience other places, cultures as well as meet other people I may not have necessarily crossed paths with.
In the future I would feel happier taking smaller and more meaningful trips. By meaningful, I mean travelling to places and doing activities that fulfill me instead of what I “should” do. I want to see a bit more of Europe and would like to do more hiking and see some beautiful nature. A place that is interesting me at the moment is Lake Bled in Slovenia. I’m also interested in learning about the culture in the Middle East and visiting Iran is high up on my list, so much so that I’m already making enquiries about a trip there next year.
In saying all of this I am not against seeing touristy places and sightseeing but what I’ve realised for me is it’s not the be all and end all if I miss out on something (I didn’t even go to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam **gasp**). I would rather do and see things that make me happy, interests me and is more meaningful. I’m grateful for the travelling I have done and wouldn’t have learnt about what I do and don’t like so I have no regrets.
How has travelling long-term influenced how you like to travel? Comment below with your own experiences…