Some Reflections on my First Three Months of Travel
I had originally been drafting a post about the rest of my time in Byron, on the farm, the incredible bunch of people I met there who became like family, and my adventures around the area when I wasn’t harvesting salad mix! But then I realized that I’ve just hit the “3 months on the road” mark. Every month to me is a milestone, it might not seem like a huge deal to others, but to me every month that passes continues to shock me. How has all this time passed? How many borders have I crossed? When am I going to settle somewhere? Do I want to settle somewhere? and the monthly milestones are important to me because it shows me that I can do this, I am doing this.
I’m meeting fabulous people, climbing and jumping off things, bush walking through forests, partying a bit and eating my way around the world. I’m thrilled that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but at the same time I also miss my family and friends, sometimes I miss the comfort of my own bed, the feeling of “coming home” and the predictability of routine. All of these things are part of the journey. And so, I want to take the chance to write down some of my reflections on my first 3 months.
At the beginning of my journey, I met tons of people who were well into their own journeys with many months on the road. I wanted to hear their thoughts about long term travel, so I found myself bothering them with many questions. Now that I’ve been to 4 countries, hopped on a few flights, crossed a few time zones, and have packed my bags quite a few times; I’m going to see how I’d answer my own questions.
Does packing your backpack ever get easier?
I still have so much anxiety around packing, even though I’ve had to pack my bag numerous of times over the last 3 months. When it’s almost time to move on to another place, I start to dread packing. I don’t know what it is. I start to think about all the things I need to do before I pack: time to do laundry, what will go in my bag for carryon, is there anything I can leave behind, what liquids will need to go in a bag? I even go so far as to “pre-pack”, which logically makes no sense because once my laundry dries I’m going to re-pack anyway. I think this has to do with where I head to next. In places where I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and am ready to move on, packing only takes one try and can be quite meditative. But I notice when I’m stressed about moving on (ie. Melbourne to Vietnam), I can spend all day packing! And its the opposite of meditative, its very stressful. It’s like playing level 120 on Tetris; rolling, folding, and squeezing things into every nook and corner. It took me 3 tries to pack that day, and I found that my nerves were so raw I needed to take a break and leave to grab a coffee and star fish
on the floor before I could continue.
A fellow traveller that I met in Thailand, who had been on the road 6 months already at the time, told me his trick is to pack exactly the same way each time, because you know it works. I have yet to adopt this strategy! It’s always different. However, I’ve learned to shed things I no longer use or like. When I packed up my life into my Osprey backpack, I jammed as much stuff as I could. Over the last 3 months I’ve learned that I have certain go-to pieces, and pieces that I’ve worn, don’t like and pieces I have yet to wear! So I’ve opted to leave things behind for later pick up or pass them on to other travellers. This surprises me sometimes because all of the items I have with me are pretty much my life, carefully chosen and rolled into my backpack. But I’m finding that it’s quite easy for me to leave and move on without them. My attachment to things have changed, I’ve learned that I don’t need so much while I move around. I also often pass on things like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash if I am catching a flight somewhere else. This makes my bag too heavy, and these things you can easily find elsewhere.
Does being home sick go away? Does missing home get easier to handle?
Yes and no. It’s a tough question. I still have moments where my heart aches for home, for familiarity, for a hug from my mom! Sometimes I scroll through social media and have a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) from seeing all the things my family and friends are doing, activities and events I know I’d be at if I were at home. Even though these are my feelings sometimes, it doesn’t mean I want to end my adventure. These feelings are all part of the process right? I think what one eventually realizes is that we are trading experiences and all those things we are familiar with for new, unfamiliar ones. And thankfully for technology, I’m still pretty well connected!
I’m also pretty lucky, I’ve been able to sprinkle my trip with visits and stays with familiar faces. I’ve had my cousin join me in Bangkok, I’ve stayed with another in Brissy, and also stayed with one in Melbourne. For my first two weeks in Vietnam, I’m staying in my mom’s hometown of Trà Vinh with family I haven’t seen in 7 years. It’s a great way to break up such a long trip, see familiar faces, catch up, have them show you around their hood and save money while travelling. This is absolutely fabulous and I appreciate and enjoy my time with everyone, helps lessen the impact of being home sick! Everyone’s also taken such good care of me, I’ve really been spoiled I’ll tell ya. They know there’s certain things I want to do, see or eat, and they make it happen! Of course I could also make these things happen on my own, but for someone to go out of their way and make sure you check off that bucket list item, is really so touching. For example, my cousins made sure I got to go see the Little Penguins on Phillip Island when I was in Melbourne. I had briefly mentioned that it was on my bucket list to my cousin when I was in Brisbane and when we all reunited in Melbourne, they made it happen and my heart is so full by the gesture! I have noticed though that I get oddly comfortable, almost too comfortable. Sometimes I feel like I don’t push myself in these situations, I often feel like I get too lazy or sometimes I find I’m less than motivated. This is an interesting feeling compared to when I’m by myself in a whole new place, there’s a different kind of motivation. Maybe from being alone? From having to make new friends so there’s a different kind of motivation to explore? Who knows! Just something I’ve noticed thus far.
Keep a Travel Journal
Keeping one is so important! It’s funny how many details can slip your mind over time. The journal is so helpful in processing your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Much like this blog. Except a bit more in-depth and personal. I refer to the journal sometimes to write my blog posts since I post about things that have already happened, I often get my days or activities mixed up. I also am finding that I doodle a lot. I wish I had brought my adult colouring books with me, but I had no room. I think I might need to go invest in another one, it really works!
I was also gifted a small sketchbook, which I’ve now used to let other travellers I’ve met along the way write messages, doodle, write words in their own language so I can learn. I got this idea from a fellow traveller who had asked me to write in hers. What a fabulous idea! and a great way to remember your time with people. I won’t lie, the messages make me laugh and cry all at the same time.
So those are my thoughts on 3 months of travel. I’m curious to see what reflections I’ll have further down the road… if some of the things that I mention above remain the same or shift. I guess we’ll see!
I’m leaving my mom’s hometown and headed to Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow – the big city they call it! The city is home to 8 million people, 4x as many as Toronto, imagine that. After which I’ll be heading to Mui Ne to start the yoga teacher training (YTT) with saigon om and other fellow yogis. Excited, nervous, you name it, I’m probably feeling it.
Until next time friends… xo.