On Travelling

"So... What are your plans for after graduation?" "Travel!"

It seems to be every college girl’s dream: To travel the world. Explore new sights. Visit some place you've never been before. A scroll through your Insta feed feels unfamiliar without one of your friends from secondary school looking all grown up and beautiful in Rome, Paris, Maldives... You get the drift. Travelling the world is the goal. But is it? Do you really want to travel, or is it something else, something related to travel but not tied solely to it?

I've recently come back from a 5-month-long stay in another country. While that sounds like a lot of travelling was involved, there really wasn't much. Apart from the necessary flights and ferry rides, I barely moved beyond the city I was in. I hung about the area I was living at, and for the most part did not venture past where I could not access by foot. What a waste! Right? Getting to go so far away from home, yet staying only in one area. Yet, it was one of the best 'travel' experiences I've ever had.

Why? I experienced living where I was at. Not all new experiences have to be brazenly so. Call me weird, but I found pleasure in figuring out the subtle differences between the grocery store downtown, the one uptown, and the little one down by the street. I revelled in discerning what time the sun set at the park near where I lived, and tried every possible flavour at the ice cream store downstairs. I discovered where to get the most affordable books in town. I walked and ate new foods on a whim. I bought a burrito from a guy who recognised me because of my coat, and gave me a discount.

Perhaps this take on travel stemmed from an 'anti-rush' attitude of sorts. I've lived most of my life in a community where the people walk at a pace that is the fastest in the world. So, being somewhere completely new, I wanted to experience what it was like to take my own time, for once. This experience helped me to realise that what we call 'travelling' really takes place in the mind. I could feel the same way about going to two different cafés within a kilometre of each other, as with going to two different provinces a hundred miles apart. In fact, adopting this mindset helps me to 'travel' within places I've been familiar with for years. It's all about detaching yourself from where you are at, recognising your presence as temporary, and refusing to claim that you know all about the place. One can never know anything for certain, because things are always changing.

Especially for those tight on money, or unable to remove themselves from their current circumstances (family, job, life), know that travelling happens when you realise that you can never be to the same place twice. Tread into 'known' land with the perception that it has changed, and you will always be travelling.