The Life of a Traveler: What It Is Really Like
Have you ever wondered what it is really like to travel the world full-time? To leave behind home, not knowing when or if you will come back?
Living the life of a traveler, especially as a solo traveler, is full of paradoxes. Full of strange feelings. Full of grandiosity. Let me tell you what traveling is really like.
Choosing this life is more than a temporary escape. It will completely and entirely transform who you are.
Are you prepared for a journey of beauty, adventure and heartbreak? Come with me.
What the life of a traveler looks like
Traveling is saying yes to life
Traveling puts you in situations so strange they’re hard to believe. The art of traveling is saying yes to opportunities as they arise, saying yes to life. Fear has no say here (even though we all experience it, of course).
As a traveler, you choose to conquer your fears again and again. You become a first-hand witness of how letting go of fear liberates your spirit.
You choose courage. Follow your instincts of curiosity. Have that conversation with the crazy guy. Explore that shady area of town. Dance like no one is watching.
It’s a wild ride, this traveler life. One that creates endless stories and miracles, simply because you said ‘yes’ at one point along the way. You get to see things few others ever see.
And at the end of the day, you will often wonder how you have gotten here. It does not matter. Embrace it.
Uncertainty is a traveler’s homeland
Most people desperately try to hold on to certainty. They resist change. They do everything in their power to keep things as they are just to feel safe.
A traveler does the opposite.
A traveler understands that the only constant we get in life is change and that by resisting it, you only create struggle.
Uncertainty is a solo traveler’s homeland. Sometimes you may not even know where you will sleep tonight. You may not know where you are tomorrow, you don’t know what you will experience in a year, you can’t fathom how the strangers you meet will change your life.
Even if you think you know, you never know. Life has its own ideas of what’s in store for you. Certainty, as much as we try to create it, is not an option.
It is the same for everyone, only that travelers understand and follow the flow of change.
Traveling is a life of extremes
By leaving behind certainty, you enter a ride of extremes. You might get stuck in hopeless situations and be rescued by a stranger. You might land in the middle of nowhere exhausted, only to be swallowed by the kindness of the world.
The emotional extremes are always present when traveling. You experience more deeply.
Everything is amplified. You will experience the lowest lows, feel lost and lonely. You will experience the highest highs, in a rush of freedom and gratitude.
It’s never one or the other. You need to feel deeply to live deeply.
About the unknown driving force
What is it, that drives travelers? What is it that leads us to explore country after country and never feel like we’re done? What is it that makes us choose a life so far from the ordinary?
Is it curiosity? Is it lust for adventure? I don’t think so.
It is a deeper feeling, a deep longing for the world. A burning sensation to experience and expand yourself. Guided by the inner knowing that wonder awaits around every corner.
I have no words to describe this feeling inside of me but I know it is the ever-present Northern Star in the life of a solo traveler.
We are the restless souls, eager to drown in the magnificence of this world. We go, go, go, until we find it.
Discomfort as a teacher
Sleeping in a million different beds. Dealing with chaos, cultures and criticism. Being the one that stands out from a crowd. Doing what scares you. Moving forward despite physical pain. Embracing mental challenges.
Often, the experiences of travelers have one thing in common: Discomfort is more frequently present than most people would like it to be.
But the magic of discomfort is exactly what makes travelers grow so much as people. Life outside of the comfort zone changes your mindset, your outlook on life.
No, the life of a traveler is not comfortable. But a single day on the road sometimes holds as many lessons as an entire year of staying at home.
This is what makes it worth it.
Read also: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: The Secret Power of Discomfort
Traveling is falling in love deeply with the world
Even after all these years, I catch myself falling in lover deeper and deeper with the world. With its people. With its natural phenomenons. With its inexplicable magic.
This is where gratitude is rooted. In letting yourself fall deeply, irreversibly in love with the world.
The more you see, the more you will realize what there is to love.
And that feeling, that love, that gratitude – you take it with you wherever you go. It will be with you in your darkest nights, it will be your light to hold onto when everything else is falling apart.
The world is a kind place. Even those who struggle to express it, deep down, want to be kind, want to love and want to belong – if only you give them a chance to.
Always a stranger, but at home in the world
It is bittersweet, sometimes, being a traveler. You have no home. Your home is everywhere. You develop the ability to deeply connect with the world around you, no matter where you are. To find something in common with the strangest stranger.
And yet, you are always a stranger, too. Even in your actual home, you will stand out through the experiences you have made – never completely understood, maybe only by those who carry a similar feeling within themselves.
That’s why travelers seek the company of other travelers. They understand the feeling of everlasting seeking, the love for the loneliness of the road and what it is like to have a million homes and none at once.
Experiencing exhilarating freedom
It comes with the range of incredibly strong feelings, but it is one of the most present ones. That feeling of complete freedom.
When you know you belong to the world, know you have nothing to lose, you feel like the luckiest star child. You don’t need to be anywhere, you don’t need to do anything or be anyone, you only need to exist. In the here and now.
Standing on the back of a pick-up truck. On top of a cliff. Feeling the wind in your hair. Running naked through the fields. Being on the verge of tears simply because of the deep realization of what a freaking gift life is.
We were born free. This is how we’re meant to be, you and me.
Understanding different perspectives
Nothing makes you understand more than traveling how there is no right or wrong. You experience different cultures, different ways of living and will be challenged to question your own cultural conditioning.
Eventually, you realize all these ways of living have their place in the world. If we move beyond judgment, we open our hearts to true connection.
Let yourself discover new ways. The more you know, the more you understand. The more empathy and compassion you will have.
We label others as different, but deep down we are the same.
Dear traveling soul, I’d be honored if you chose to stay for a while:
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In the life of a traveler, nothing lasts
Traveling is a life of million goodbyes. The people and places you fall in love with are predestined to depart – as is everything else in life.
You will have to learn to not hold on, to be fully present in the now and enjoy the fleeting moments while they last. Your memories are your most lasting companions.
When that thought saddens you, just remember, with a million goodbyes come a million hellos.
Travel is symbolic of the impermanence of life. Nothing ever lasts, the beauty as well as the heartbreak. Everything comes and goes in waves. Swim with it.
Travel teaches you everything
Travel teaches you everything. It teaches you you can live out of a backpack and be happy. It teaches you how misguided our more-more-more culture is. There is nothing more than life itself.
Traveling makes you grow and expand in all the ways possible. If you say yes to travel, you have chosen your teacher in life.
I am the person I am today because of travel. I may have learned many of those lessons staying in one place, too, but I would have never understood them so deeply and so quickly as out there.
Being confronted with a million different circumstances and people, in the end, always confronts you with yourself.
And that, to me, is beautiful.
This is what the life of a traveler is like
Dear friend, you have come to the end of my poetic musings about the life of a traveler. My life.
Writing this made me smile and feel deeply – because it made me realize, once again, how much travel means to me. Even though my words may be clumsy at times, this is my best effort of speaking my inner truth.
It may look very different from yours. But I hope that you, if anything in my words resonates deeply with your soul, get to go out and experience it for yourself.
Be courageous. Follow the calling of your heart. It will lead you to a million places you would have never expected.
And you will grow big. You will grow beautiful. You will grow so full of life it will make your heart burst with happiness.
Some of us simply belong to the road.