I was pondering recently, as yet again I realised that I had no recollection of somewhere in New Zealand that I had visited 12 years previously, as to whether I was a bad traveller or simply have an awful memory.
I suppose as you go through life, you may recall events because of exciting experiences, because of the people you enjoyed (or endured) them with or simply because they gave you an emotional or spiritual uplift. There can be many reasons.
When I went travelling in 2002 and took in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada there were certain things I recall…
1. I loved the scenery in Canada and New Zealand.
2. Vancouver is a beautiful city. Possibly my favourite.
3. I did a bungy jump in Queenstown from the Pipeline bridge over Skippers Canyon. I have a certificate of insanity.
4. I made some good friends who remain as such years later.
5. The East Coast of Australia is quite repetitive when on a bus.
6. Lake Superior is vast…as are the Canadian prairies.
7. I discovered and lived on Subway sandwiches.
8. I was on TV in the Olympic stadium while watching the Montreal Expos.
9. When I first arrived on my own in Cairns, it was possibly the most miserable I had ever been…”why am I doing this?”.
10. The sight from the top of the Fox Glacier (after the helicopter trip to get there) on the South Island was truly breathtaking.
OK, this isn’t all of them but in 5 months it might seem an small list of highlights in some ways. I wonder if I really took full advantage of the experience or if I perhaps worried about spending too much money on things like socialising or worried about my stuff being taken or my next destination too much!
Whatever way I look at it though, it was still one of the best things I ever did. Leaving a job which had gone past its sell by date (I will never forget a morning in November 2001 when I was having a bad day at work, put the phone down, had my head in my hands and just thought for the first time “That’s it, I am going travelling”) and discovering that I actually could get out there on my own and survive was great.
So, what makes a good traveller? Is it the desire to explore? Is it the willingness to step outside your comfort zone? Is it doing new things? Is it immersing yourself in new cultures? I guess is it different for everyone who ever had a mind to step out of their home and see something of the world that wasn’t a part of their everyday routine.
And I can honestly say that I have travelled far and wide since 2002 and have always gained something different from those times (and coming back to NZ makes me realise that I am a different person with different interests now). The hardest part is perhaps just making the decision to go and then acting on and sticking to it…but once you do, great things await those who are in control of their destination. Take the first step…you will never regret it!